From Kits to Kites


Between Street of the Copper Lantern and Street of the Crystal Lantern, both familiar thoroughfares along Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point, is the more obscure Street of the Binnacle Lantern. Binnacle is nevertheless a beacon for hobby enthusiasts, flanked as it is by shops serving grown-ups in search of collectibles and kids who just want to fly a kite. High tea is another draw.


Webster’s defines “binnacle” as “a housing for a ship’s compass and a lamp.”

You’d need neither to find the Landmark, a two-story complex complete with patio and back porch, all filled with collectibles and antiques. The two levels--officially referred to as Upstairs and Downstairs--keep separate phone lines and slightly different hours.

On the Upstairs patio was a circa-1940s wooden ironing board ($45), perfect for displaying whatever other collectibles you find. Among great finds Downstairs: the original 1950s Disney recording LP “We’re the Musketeers” ($79), on which Sgt. Garcia (actor Henry Calvin) introduces Zorro in “stirring song”; R.M. Schornstein’s definitive 1925 work, “Plans for Concrete Houses” ($67); and a 150-year-old teacup and saucer ($42.50).


It’s an easy segue to afternoon tea next door at Traditions, a restaurant that also serves breakfast and lunch and is itself full of antiques, starting with the fringed Victorian lamp inside the beveled-glass door. In fact, said manager Cathy Harding, “It’s all antiques, and it’s all for sale,” right down to the chairs you sit on.


Ken Weeks was for years the chef at Hog’s Breath, Clint Eastwood’s restaurant in Carmel. Now he serves a quartet of afternoon teas--cream tea, English country tea, French buffet tea and Traditions tea--from $9 to $19. English country tea ($12) includes cucumber and egg-salad canapes, bread pudding, fresh orange-cranberry scones, muffin, lemon curd mini-tart, Devonshire cream and an assortment of preserves and flavored teas.


To the east of Binnacle Lantern are shops that can bring out the kid in anyone.

In addition to model trains and cars in a variety of sizes, Hobby Central offers a number of particularly elaborate kits; among them are a one-eighth scale BMW bicycle ($49.99), a one-12th scale four-wheel-drive Hummer ($169.99), a one-16th scale American Dream electric hydroplane ($169.99) and a ".40-size semi-scale” Learjet ($179). “Sport flying, executive style” is how the Learjet is described on the box.

Most intriguing is a pair of working Rigiduo ski gondolas with reversing unit and two speeds ($189). Railroad engineer hats are $7.99.

In its holiday issue last year, Bon Appetit magazine singled out Bodega, a manufacturer of “early California fudge and chocolates,” for the tastiness of its products. The company’s slogan is “Bona fortuna!” and it’s our good fortune that it’s open to the public.

A 2.5-ounce fudge truffle (traditional or low-fat) is $3.95; a 10-ounce jar of hot-fudge topping is $6.50. For holiday gift-giving, consider the 1-pound tin of assorted fudge wedges ($16.95). It includes “traditional” fudge, with or without walnuts, bittersweet fudge and a butter-vanilla variety that could make you dizzy with pleasure.

Doheny State Beach is just down the hill--go fly a kite!

Ride the Wind offers single- and dual-line kites selected for ease of flight from $18.99 to $350. At the high end is a hexagonal cellular kite 9 feet in diameter that requires two people for assembly. At the more modest end are ultralight dual-line kites that can fly in almost no wind at all. Single-line shark and killer whale kites ($25) are top sellers. The shop also carries decorative flags and windsocks.


1) The Landmark

34241 Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 105. Upstairs: (714) 489-1793; downstairs: (714) 489-8313.

10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily (till 6 p.m. Friday, Downstairs only).

2) Traditions

34241 Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 101, (714) 248-7660.

9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.

3) Hobby Central

34255 Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 108, (714) 488-8095.

10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

4) Bodega Fudge and Chocolates

34255 Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 106, (714) 489-0708.

9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

5) Ride the Wind

34255 Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 101, (714) 443-1084.

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday.

Parking: There is ample free parking in lots at each location.

Buses: OCTA Bus No. 1 runs along Pacific Coast Highway with stops southbound at Street of the Binnacle Lantern and northbound at Del Obispo Street and Alcazar Drive.