On warm weekends in the summer, popular Orange County beaches such as Huntington, Newport, and Laguna are packed with tourists and inland dwellers looking for reprieve from the heat. As a spoiled local, I can’t stand to sit in traffic in Laguna Canyon only to have to spend an hour finding parking somewhere on the street. Luckily, I have been let in a secret. That secret is Strand Beach in Dana Point.
For years, only the diehards went to Strands because quite frankly, it was a long way down to the bottom. The steps were steep and the walk back up was a thigh burner. But now, the trip down to water has gotten quite a bit easier thanks to the funicular. If and elevator and a tram were to get together and have a baby, it would look like a funicular.
The funicular definitely gets you from point A to B but it does it at a very SLOW pace. Personally, I would skip the ride down and just take the stairs. Save the funicular experience for the way back up, especially if you have a bunch of stuff to lug back up the hill.
The beach itself is, just as its name implies, a narrow strand of sand just north of the Dana Point headlands. During high tide, the strip of beach to the north is quite small so I suggest following the boardwalk south to a larger expanse of beach. The boardwalk will take you past obscenely beautiful newly constructed beachfront homes that are perfect for drooling over.
Besides the beautiful strip of sand (which I have had all to myself on multiple occasions), Strands is also great because on busy weekends and holidays, more than likely you will find plenty of free parking in the lot. We went on Memorial Day this year and there were plenty of free spots to be had!
If you would like to check out The Strand for yourself pop this address into Google Maps: 33971 Selva Road Dana Point, CA. There are bathrooms both at the parking lot level and near sea level where the funicular lets off.