Kid Rating


2 Under Free

Tallship Festival @ Ocean Institute

Tons to see and do at the Tallship Festival held at the Dana Point Ocean Institute. Not only are the tallships docked and available for tours, canon battles, and reenactments, but the Ocean Institute facility is open and full of interactive entertainment for children.

Our Experience

We found the designated parking lot and shuttle easily enough. We missed the bus by a few seconds, but the next one came round in about ten minutes.

The tallships were in port, but we decided to see what was available inside the Ocean Institute campus first. We found the place buzzing with activity. The hanger had a tables lined with either historical treasures or small crafts. The boys could watch their name burned on a wooden fob, or try their hand at soap carving. They had just finished looking through whaling antiques when a Pirate came through carrying a mermaid.

Story time was told by a gold-tailed mermaid, which enchanted the girls and the toddler crowd…my boys weren’t particularly interested. After story-time, the mermaid invited everyone to come to the tank and watch her swim. I spent the next hour watching mermaids swim around, which I found fabulous. The boys couldn’t care less, and entertained themselves by making cork-wood boats and trying to capsize them in the wave tank.

We kept hold of the itinerary, so that we made sure not to miss anything. We were onetime for the squid dissection. Every child got their own dead squid and were walked through the dissection with plenty of scientific facts by a man in a white lab coat and a big red squid hat.

The fish tanks and touch tanks were also open during the festival, as well as additional crafts inside the aquarium area. After which we went aboard the tallships. You’re welcome to ask questions to staff members, or just walk around and take a look.

The boys learned scrimshaw while we waited for the Tallship pirate battle. The battle itself was entertaining, with plenty of bad theater, firing cannons, and clashing swords. But by that point my boys were pretty tired, hungry, and the sun was out. We barely got the kids to sit through the battle, and they certainly weren’t going to go through the fair stands. So unfortunately it was time to call it a day.

Having never been to Dana Point, I didn’t realize there was a sand cove next door. We were so hot that I desperately wished we had swimwear to enjoy the water. As it was we sent our boys in to cool off, and it did lift their spirits so that everyone was happy enough as we caught the shuttle and headed for home


Beach Access

There is sand-beach located right next to the Ocean Institute. If you have appropriate swimwear it’s a great way to cool off if the day gets too warm.

Ocrean Institute