Our grandson had enjoyed an overnight stay on the Pilgrim boat, and we had enjoyed short day trips to Dana Point right at the Ocean Institute' location, but we had an especially wonderful evening recently when they host a viewing of the annual lighted boat parade.
If you have a membership (very reasonable) there are lots of events and ways to enjoy the Ocean Institute, but even non-members can attend the boat parade viewing. It's a miniature version of the elaborate one in Newport Beach, but more intimate if you pay the modest fee ($5.00 each or $20 per family) to attend the evening festivities at the Ocean Institute. Everyone enjoyed a chili supper, with hot chocolate (marshmallows and whipped cream too!), stories on the Pilgrim and a chance to raise the sail, carols sung by costumed singers, arts and crafts for the little ones, and a prime spot to view the beautiful lighted boats on parade.
Our granddaughter loves the tanks with all kinds of sea life and plants. There are docents to explain the names of things. It's wonderful any time of year, but this evening during the Christmas season is really magical!