One of the 8 California Channel Islands, the Island of Santa Catalina is a mere “26 miles across the Sea” as sung by The Four Preps in 1958. However, the Island destination feels like it is a world away. With a relaxed small town, stress and hassle free feeling and a friendly close-knit community of people immersed by the natural beauty of the Island, Catalina is the perfect location for a weekend getaway. In fact, there is not a single traffic light located anywhere on the Island. <br.
Catalina was purchased from the Banning family in 1919 sight unseen by William Wrigley Jr. whom had a vision of a Hollywood Island resort destination. Island residents joke that Catalina was built on a land of used gum wrappers. It was Wrigley’s vision and investments that created Catalina what it is today-one of the most unique Island resorts in the country.
How to get there
An hour by boat or 15 minutes by flight Catalina Island is readily accessible in only a few short minutes and yet when you arrive, you’ll be a world away.
The Catalina Express departs from downtown Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point up to 30 times a day. The Catalina Express features roomy airline type seating, cocktail service and a friendly staff on your Catalina bound voyage. Fares start at $70.50 round trip per person.
Where to stay
Catalina Island offers a bounty of overnight accommodations from bed and breakfasts, hotels, cottage rentals to four-star inns that can accommodate any budget.
Located near the center of Avalon and directly off the Avalon shore is the gorgeous and newly renovated Pavilion Hotel. Set within a tropical garden paradise, with gorgeous four-star accommodations, a super comfortable bed and a complimentary continental breakfast served every day there is literally no better hotel to stay at on the Island. Not to forget, every afternoon from 4:00-4:30pm is a complimentary wine tasting and cheese hour served in the dining room. You can take your wine to sit fireside and watch the sunset, life doesn’t get any better than that.
Where to eat
One of the best features of Catalina is the wide array of dining options. From hotdogs and pizza to the most delectable steak and sea food available there is something for everyone’s pallet.
The Avalon Grille is Catalina’s newest restaurant and is located at the base of the green pleasure pier. Avalon Grille serves American regional dishes with a seasonal flair. With indoor and outdoor seating, a lively central bar and casual atmosphere, Avalon Grille is the perfect locations for a romantic dinner. Don’t forget to try the deep friend Oreo ice cream sandwich for dessert, you’ll fall in love!
Step back in time to the 1950’s for a slice of delicious pizza. Jukebox music, lively nostalgic decorations and peanut shells on the floor make this restaurant one of a kind on Catalina Island. Pizza, pasta, salads, soups, hot and cold sub sandwiches, beer and wine are served. There is even a walk up ordering window for a slice on the go.
Steve’s Steakhouse is a local favorite and is located on the 2nd story from the harbor with beautiful panoramic Avalon harbor views. Open for lunch and dinner, Steve’s Steakhouse is an elegant dining experience with a casual, friendly atmosphere and not to forget to mention, delicious gourmet surf and turf entrees and all served on a triangular plate! Anything on the extensive menu will be sure to please.
What to do
Catalina Island is 22 miles of undisturbed, natural land with pristine gorgeous beaches. What isn’t there to do on Catalina Island? From high adventure seeking activities such as zip line eco tour to family fun activities such as snorkeling and miniature golf everyone in your party will be thrilled.
Ultimate Plus Package
Catalina’s best offer to experience the Island to its fullest potential is the Ultimate Plus Package. Which includes round trip boat transportation, accommodations at the Pavilion Hotel, Zip line tour, Unlimited use all Discovery Tours, and unlimited use of activities such as miniature golf, Avalon Theater, rock climbing wall and much more. See website for more details.
Experience the beauty of Catalina Island in the most thrilling way available-by Zip Line! Soar through the ocean air via 5 separate zip lines pushing 45 mph. starting high in the hills of Descanso Canyon. The zip line tour lasts 2 thrilling hours, winter season fee’s start at $109 per person.
The historic Avalon Theater is located on the lower level of the Casino. The stunning theater is 138 feet across and 43 feet high and is adorned by John Gabriel Beckman art deco murals. Movies are shown in one week increments at 7:30pm nightly.
Some may choose to rent a golf cart for a self-toured view of the Island, however many choose to ride aboard a narrated drive tour for a relaxed and fun guided tour. Go 10 miles within the Island’s interior on this 2 ½ hour Skyline drive tour aboard a 1950’s bus with a destination to the “Airport in the Sky”. Along the way you’ll learn facts about the Islands history and culture by a funny and friendly driver. Don’t forget your camera, as you may even see some Catalina Bison!
Hands down the best tour on the Island is the tour of Catalina’s world famous Casino. Led by a knowledgeable staff member, you will be taken aback by the beauty and history of the Casino (which means “place of gathering” and has never housed gambling). The lower level of the Casino houses the Avalon Theater and the upper level holds the world’s largest circular ballroom. The views from the circular ballroom are absolutely outstanding.
Aboard the semi-submersible vessel to come face to face with Catalina Islands sea life! You will sit 5 feet underwater with your own large, clear and unobstructed view of Catalina’s precious natural sea life resources such as the beautiful golden garibaldi. Go at night and see what glows-nighttime tours are even available.