Image source: Flickr
- Justin Ennis
Located just 22 miles off the coast of the South Bay,
Catalina Island is a quick weekend jaunt from the greater
Los Angeles area. It's part of the eight islands that make up the Channel Islands archipelago. Catalina's main city is Avalon, and the island is also home to the unincorporated town of Two Harbors.
Catalina Island is an ideal destination for a romantic getaway, family trip, or even a solo adventure weekend. There are a number of organized activities, tours, and options to keep you entertained for several days.
More than 30 restaurants offer travelers diverse dining options from casual and family friendly, to more formal fare. Don't miss the sweet shops like Lloyd's that makes the famous saltwater taffy Avalon is known for.
Shopping is abundant on Catalina as well. Wander the Mediterranean-style streets and explore a number of art galleries and clothing stores, along with jewelry and souvenir shops.
The easiest and most popular method of getting to Catalina island is on one of the regularly scheduled boats from Catalina Express or Catalina Flyer that depart from one of four mainland communities:
If you want to splurge for an unforgettable journey, helicopter service is also an option. Travel to Catalina Island takes about 15 minutes by helicopter and one hour by boat.
Accommodation options on Catalina cover a great range. You can set up an overnight tent at a campsite or book a high-end elegant room at a local hotel. Bed & Breakfasts and private vacation rentals are becoming increasingly popular as well. Because Catalina is relatively small, it is not recommended that you show up without lodging arranged, as it's not uncommon for weekends to sell out during special events and peak travel times.
Some people enjoy escaping to Catalina and just relaxing on the beach, while others want to be on the go the entire weekend. Despite its small size, Catalina is big on adventure. Choose from water-related activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, parasailing, fishing, or kayaking. If you prefer to stay on dry land, consider renting bikes, Segways, or golf carts to go exploring. There are hiking trails, or you can book a round of golf as well.
Most travelers enjoy booking one of Catalina's many tour options to learn about the island's history or enjoy some niche exploration. Astronomy, ghost, zip line, food tasting, casino, and art tours are just a few of the options available.
Whether you book a tour or not, don't miss visiting Avalon's historic Casino Building. It's Catalina's most recognizable landmark. Built in 1929, the Art Deco style building is open for tours and movie screenings. Many people choose to rent out the Casino ballroom for weddings and special events, so there is a chance it may not be entirely open during your visit.
Regularly scheduled events throughout the year keep the town of Avalon bustling. It's recommended you check on events taking place, especially if you're hoping to visit Catalina when it's relatively quiet. If you're hoping to attend a special event, consider the summer months when there is something taking place nearly every week.
Have you been to Catalina Island? What are your top recommendations?
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Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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