Beautiful and laid-back luxury, the city of Dana Point is one of coastal Orange County’s most brilliant gems.
An appealing combination of natural beauty and laid-back luxury, the city of Dana Point is one of coastal Orange County’s most brilliant gems. It was once famously described as “the only romantic spot on the coast” by Richard Henry Dana, Jr., author of the 19th century American classic “Two Years Before the Mast.”
Dana Point is just over an hour’s drive from the heart of Los Angeles as well as San Diego, making it somewhat out-of-the-way yet still easily accessible. Blessed with a balmy Mediterranean climate and free of the smog that plagues many other areas in Southern California, this beautiful coastal town has become a popular vacation destination and is a mecca for surfers, whale watchers, anglers, the nautically minded, and just about everyone with an appreciation for the good things in life.
The city has a land area of just under 6.5 square miles but has a total area of almost 30, most of which is water. It has an estimated population of around 34,000, and population growth has been constant yet gradual over the years.
Dana Point has long been a great spot for whale watching. Native Americans camped out on the headlands for millennia and watched out not just for migrating whales, but also for traders and possible invaders. So while it only got incorporated as a city in 1989, Dana Point has been called home by various groups of people since before the days of recorded history.
The city is named after Richard Henry Dana, Jr., whose memoir Two Years Before the Mast has been part of the American literary canon since the 1800s. Dana, while still a Harvard undergrad, enlisted as an ordinary sailor on the Pilgrim, a Boston merchant ship. The ship anchored in the Dana Point area in the course of its voyage, which included sailing around Cape Horn, and Dana described the area in his journal, which he would later turn into his famous memoir.
It wasn’t until the early 20th century, however, that Dana Point would start becoming the city we now know today. Developed by a real estate group from L.A. in the 1920s, Dana Point was envisioned as a resort community, and its spirit as a relaxing retreat remains alive to this day.
There’s no end of things to do in Dana Point. The community has a wealth of attractions, including gorgeous beaches, a vibrant harbor, diverse shopping and dining options, plenty of parks and open spaces, and a vibrant arts scene.
Dana Point has a wide variety of neighborhoods and properties to choose from, ranging from condos to grand beachfront residences. Given the city’s coastal location and the fact that it’s a highly desirable place to live, home prices here lie in the higher end of the spectrum and home values continue to rise as well. The median value of single-family detached homes is already close to $1 million and the median value of condos is over $500,000.
The city is composed of distinct communities, including Capistrano Beach, Monarch Beach, Dana Hills, Del Obispo, and Lantern Village. Each of these has its own unique character and housing stock, though all benefit from the top-quality services and facilities that the city provides.
The community of Dana Hills is located on the eastern side of Dana Point and bounded by the streets of Camino Del Avion, Del Obispo, and Stonehill Drive, with Buccaneer Street roughly marking its westernmost border. Dana Hills has over 30 neighborhoods with mostly single-family residences that were built during the early 1970s to the late 1990s, as well as other housing options like duplexes, townhouses, and condominiums. The neighborhoods of Dana Crest, Harbor Heights, and The Landing are among the most popular in Dana Hills, which also include Point Vista, Silvertide, Sunset Hill, Diamond Ridge Estates, Terraza Del Mar, Marluna, Waterford Point, and more.
Dana Hills is also known as a family-friendly community, with many homes within the vicinity of its most prominent educational facility, Dana Hills High School. Considered as one of the oldest high schools in South Orange County, Dana Hills High School has several notable courses, including a junior medical program called the Health and Medical Occupations Academy, and a Marine Ecology program that’s only offered to those in the 12th grade.
The San Juan Creek that spills out into the Pacific Ocean is a prominent feature of the Del Obispo area in Dana Point, which counts the Pacific Coast Highway and Del Obispo Street as among its marking boundaries. Most of the homes in Del Obispo were built during the early 1960s, but have been lovingly preserved through the years or remodeled, giving the community its own distinctive character. Housing options are usually single-family residences and condos, with many providing gorgeous ocean views. Some of the neighborhoods in Del Obispo include Bal Harbor, Brighton Court, Dana Knolls, Hampton Hill, Harbor Creek, The Moorings, Seabluffs at Dana Point, Sea Knoll, and Westbourne.
Areas of interest in Del Obispo are its many parks, such as Del Obispo Park, Creekside Park, Mission Bell Park, along with the nearby Lantern Bay Park and Doheny State Beach. Del Obispo is also located adjacent to the Dana Point Harbor, with its marina, shops, and restaurants.
Lantern Village near Dana Point Harbor was named after the colored lanterns that were used by ships docking into the harbor to advertise their fares around 200 years ago; today, some of the streets are still named after those lanterns, such as Golden Lantern, Street of the Violet Lantern, Blue Lantern, Copper Lantern, and Silver Lantern. Homes in Lantern Village are mostly single-family residences, along with townhouses and condos. Some of the homes were built as far back as the late 1940s, with a majority built during the 80s and 90s. The various architectural styles give Lantern Village its own unique look, with homes ranging from Spanish to Cape Cod, to Craftsman and Modern.
Neighborhoods in Lantern Village include Golden Lantern Villas, Harbor Cove, Lantern Village Central, Las Marianas, Portofino, and Spindrifter Condos, along with some gated communities like Admiralty and Lantern Bay Estates. The area is within walking distance to the beach and Dana Point Harbor, as well as many amenities, like shopping and dining establishments.
An upscale community with the laid-back and casually chic feel of a luxury resort, Monarch Beach is a neighborhood in Dana Point that’s edged by Salt Creek Beach and looks out on the water and Catalina Island in the distance. It’s named after its most distinguishing feature, Monarch Bay, which in turn is named after the monarch butterfly, which was once abundant in the area. The days of admiring kaleidoscopes of butterflies are long gone, but you can still admire the beautiful homes that now adorn the hillsides here, which are like butterflies in their own right.
Life in Monarch Beach is laid back and time often seems to stand still in this beachside neighborhood. Residents and tourists alike love Monarch Beach’s vibrant yet calm atmosphere and its many amenities that have been designed with the ultimate in luxurious comfort in mind. Crime is not an issue here, and residents sleep soundly at night knowing that their security is of utmost importance in the community. If you have school-age children, you can rest easy in the knowledge that their potential will be further developed at Monarch Beach’s top-rated public schools, which are under the award-winning Capistrano Unified School District.
Monarch Beach is famous for being home to two premier resorts, St. Regis and The Ritz Carlton-Laguna Niguel. Guests flock to these exclusive resorts, which enhance Monarch Beach’s appeal as a fashionable oceanside community.
Residents and tourists enjoy the community’s pristine beaches and surf spots. Salt Creek Beach, which is right next to The Ritz, is a definite favorite among surfers. There are also other recreational activities to try in Monarch Beach. St. Regis Resort’s Monarch Beach Golf Links offers guests a wonderful golf experience, thanks to the combination of a challenging 18-hole championship course and the natural beauty of the surroundings.
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