Ditch the cartoons and spend Saturday morning on an outing that mixes whale watching, dolphin scouting and seal sightings with an art lesson and ocean cruise. Departing from Dana Point, Wyland’s Whale and Dolphin Adventure—Art Lessons in the Wild gives the kids a taste of art in nature, not a museum, with a bonus side of sea spray, inspiration, and a peek at Moby Dick.  Or at least a bunch of his pals.

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Inspiration Begets Inspiration
Why Wyland?  Because he’s the guy who saw a whale in the wild and brought them to the landside world with his life size murals and marine inspired masterpieces.  He knows from experience that one magical moment can construct the whole landscape (seascape?) of life as kids know it.  (You can see his art at many galleries across the country, including the closest-to-LA location of Laguna Beach.) And what better lesson to impart than the one where his personal epiphany occurred? Step aboard the ship, settle into the sea, and see what happens when pencil hits paper.

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A Moving Classroom
It’s one-part art, one-part sea, one amazingly immersive trip into Mother Nature’s spectacular swimming pool.  Intended to introduce an inspiring ecosystem from a vantage point most of us have never experienced, it’s a dream situation made remarkably accessible and designed specifically for the 3–12 year old artist and oceanographer to be.

Rise and Shine
Advanced reservations are required, because this trip starts at 9 a.m. in Dana Point.

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Wyland himself is teaching the class, through a video feed. He leads the kids in a whale drawing art lesson where each young artist who participates not only receives a small gift (again from Wyland, who is talented and generous) but will also be entered into a contest for more prizes. The lesson itself takes place on the Dana Pride, Dana Wharf’s flagship 95 ft. vessel.  Young Ariels and Erics may have trouble containing their exuberance.

It Draws You In
When the urge to pick up a colored pencil and start sketching along side your kid strikes, go with it.  They invite you to.  Wyland takes a super simplistic approach by first drawing a grey whale, then an orca.  Learning a new skill with your minnow is an experience that you’ll treasure, and your kids will adore (especially as they often end up drawing a more recognizable creature than their parents can produce).  Plus, putting pencil to paper is a lost art that is undeniably soothing.  Consider it the meditation you never make time for.RTWylandAnnie'sgreywhale

Then at 10 a.m., artists are welcomed to settle in and set sail.  For the following two hours the magical connection between what they just drew and what they’ll see sparks ideas that only  the vast and wondrous under the sea world can conjure.  The cruise lasts 2 hours. The memory of it?  Circle back in a decade or so.

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The Price of Priceless
For an experience that is priceless, the cost in dollars is terribly reasonable.  Little mermaids and mermen who are accompanied by a paying adult (up to 2 kiddos per adult) are just $5, if they take the art class.  Adults are $45.  And kids 12 and under are $29 if they just want to whale watch, sans art class.  Families participating in the art class before the ship sails receive VIP boarding.  Those tables at the top of the ship?  You get dibs.  Best seats in the house, but the best part is, there’s no need to stay seated.  Guests are free to roam and find the view that suits them best.     RTWylandsnugglingwhalewatchers

So Much to Sea
This is why Angelenos put up with the traffic and the smog.  Because we get to live somewhere where boarding a boat and seeing the sea for two hours (post art lesson from an internationally known artist) is not only available, but easy.  Expect your mini minnows to emerge with new eco-intellect. Like that orcas were actually dolphins, not whales. See seals lounging on the rocks.  Watch dolphins (so many dolphins!) surfing the Dana Pride waves, and grey whales out there, minding their own plankton, flaunting those fabulous tails.

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Wyl the Day Away, But Do It Soon
The program runs every Saturday, 9 a.m.-noon, but only until April 30, 2016.  Gray whale season ends in April, so no arguing that end date.  Spots fill up fast; schedule your trip today. Driving down from LA on a Saturday morning is totally doable.  The crew is super friendly and eager to get the kids engaged.  And parking couldn’t be easier—four hours free at the wharf. What are you waiting for?

Art Lessons in the Wild: The Wyland Dolphin and Whale Adventures
Meet at Dana Wharf Whale Watching office
34675 Golden Lantern
Dana Point
888-224-0603
Online: danawharf.com/wyland-art-in-the-wild

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Have you taken a cruise that combines art and nature?  We’d love to hear about adventures that hit multiple interests!  Let us know in the comment section.

—written and photographed by Jolie Loeb