The Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Beach free trolleys are a great opportunity for all to see the gloriousness we are blessed with. Don’t know where to go? Have an adventure—it’s free and easy.
The lone open-air San Juan Capistrano trolley runs about every 45 minutes from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. I have not ridden it as I live near downtown and can get around quickly on my bicycle. I do not have a smart phone, so I cannot use the trolley tracker app. There is no set schedule, and my time is too valuable to be waiting at a trolley stop for 45 minutes.
If you go to the San Juan Trolley’s last stop, south at the Residence Inn, off of Stonehill Drive and Camino Capistrano, you can walk a half-mile to the Dana Point trolley stop in front of the Doheny Village Car Wash in Capo Beach. From the Doheny car wash, the trolley goes northwest on Pacific Coast Highway to the Harbor, makes a right onto Golden Lantern up to PCH, and ends at the Ritz Carlton.
The Dana Point trolley operates Friday noon to 10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Labor Day. The four “woodie” trolleys are well-organized and spaced about 15 minutes apart. Sometimes you have to wait in the air conditioned trolley at a stop (but someone sometimes has to!) The vans are handicap accessible and can carry two bikes strapped to the front grill. You can go as far south as Capo Beach Park and as far north as the Ritz. To see the route map, visit www.danapointtimes.com/dptrolley.
The Laguna Beach trolleys start on Ritz Carlton Drive next to the Ritz and go as far north as Crystal Cove State Park (but not to the Beachcomber restaurant) and to the art fairs. The gray trolley line goes up Bluebird Canyon to the Top of the World for great hiking and views (also Aliso Creek). And you have to love the trolley hours: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. seven days a week through Aug. 30.
Laguna Beach has a ton of vintage open-air trolleys, but the problem is the buses bunch together, causing sporadic pickups. On a sunny weekend, the trolley is packed with people and will not stop until room opens aboard, so you have to wait more than 30 minutes sometimes. The $2 OCTA bus rumbles through, too. I suggest going early and as far north as you want to go to beat the crowds and overloaded trolleys. To see the Laguna Beach route, visit www.visitlagunabeach.com/plan/transportation/trolley. All three cities have apps to track the trolleys’ locations on your iPhone or iPad.
The trolleys need ridership to get more funding from OCTA, AQMD, etc. for the coming years. At least 10 riders on each trolley per hour are needed. I suggest advertising and adding a donation drop on the trolleys to help generate funds. San Clemente is applying for a grant to start a trolley next year. A quad-city trolley could be a boon to our local city economies, if there are enough riders.
Please get up, get out and have some fun and adventure so the trolley network can grow. I suggest a new stop at Costco or Smart & Final in Capo Beach to close the link between San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point trolleys. Ridership would certainly increase and more tourists mean more commerce, activity, fun and adventure. All aboard!