The Ocean Institute on Dana Point hosts the Tall Ships Festival for the 34th year. Families get to tour real, working tall ships.
They also can experience interactive living history encampments, sea chanteys concerts, cannon battles at sea, an arts and crafts show, a boat parade, and more. Friday evening, before the start of the festival proper, the ships sail as a parade at sunset; the best view is from the breakwater behind the Ocean Institute.
Inside the Ocean Education Center, kids can check out hands-on labs and art activities, undersea explorations, pirate school, sailor training, and even mermaid swim encounters. A complete schedule of the weekend's events is available on the festival website; note that some activities may cost extra, and there is a discount for buying a full weekend pass instead of paying by the day.
Parking near the Ocean Institute during the festival is extremely limited; alternatively a free shuttle runs from Salt Creek Beach Park (at PCH and Selva Road).
Saturday and Sunday hours are 9am-5pm; Friday evening Sunset Sail is 4pm-7:30pm.
Advance ticket purchase is recommended.
Want to join the Sunset Sail on Friday evening? Tickets to be on board for the three-hour tour cost $45 for adults and $35 for kids (4-12). Check-in time to sail is 1:30pm-3pm. There is also a separately priced Mermaid Breakfast on Saturday morning.