Friday, March 6, 2015

This Weekend (and next weekend too): Festival of Whales

Have you ever wondered what makes Dana Point so special? Probably not, but the Californian Gray Whale seems to be rather fond of the area. And after this weekend, you and your pup may be fond of the cozy beach town too.

California Gray Whales migrate each year from Alaska to Mexico to give birth or mate, making their 5,000 mile journey the longest mammal migration. From December to March 40 – 50 whales pass by Dana Point every day. Experts believe that Dana Point’s location (halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego) and its 200ft cliffs that jut out into the sea serve as a navigational landmark for the whales. And California Gray Whales aren’t the only sea mammals coasting by; Humpback Whales, Fin Whales, Blue Whales, and even Killer Whales have been seen too.

The Festival of Whales began 44 years ago in the coastal community of Dana Point. As an important part of the community, the festival has continued to this day with ocean-themed events and activities keeping an emphasis on education and environmental responsibility.

This whale of an event is jam-packed with things to do for two consecutive weekends, celebrating the roundtrip voyage of the whales.

This first weekend, March 7th-8th, will feature art lessons, live music, an art show, a parade, a street fair, an antique boat show, sailing rides, a stand-up paddling clinic, whale watching, a movie in the park, pancake breakfast, Diamond Dig, sand sculpting competition, rubber ducky derby, a free fishing clinic and trip for kids, a Polynesian Luau, and so much more!

The second weekend, March 13th – 15th, will feature the Dolphin & Whale Film Festival, the 10k and 5k Grunion Run/walk, a classic car show, Doheny State Beach clean-up, a Clam Chowder Cook-off, and Captain Dave’s carnival, along with many of the activities offered the weekend before. And please note that the Grunion Run marathon (which also has a 1k run/walk for kids) is not to be confused with the actual yearly grunion run, but just a fun name to go with the theme of the weekend.
For a complete weekend schedule, directions, and any other information you may like to know about this event, check out the Festival of Whales website. This event is family and dog-friendly, so no need to leave anyone at home this time. All day parking is $8 or $2 per hour, and there is a free shuttle back and forth to the event site (but dogs are not allowed on the shuttle, so plan accordingly). The address to map for this event is 34675 Golden Lantern, Dana Point, Ca 92629.

So now that you have something to do this weekend, grab your dog, some extra water, and sun block and head to the beach for some fun in the sun!