Summer Escapes Part 3
All Summer long, we’re bringing you ideas for Summer Escapes. We’ve explored Montauk and shared how you can have fun in NYC by Boat, but now we’re living that bi-coastal life and sharing a Summer Escape from LA!
Who hasn’t wanted to visit Catalina Island ever since they saw “Step Brothers”? While we don’t have a Catalina Wine Mixer for you to attend, we do have a whole slew of awesome ways you can spend your time on the island.
*For optimal article-reading pleasure, listen to Will Ferrell’s rendition of “Por Ti Volare”.
HOW TO GET THERE
Since Catalina is an island, a visit requires a bit more planning than simply hopping over to Venice Beach. But don’t let the boat ride intimidate you – it is definitely worth it.
Catalina Express – The best way to get to the Island is by boat. The Catalina Express only takes about an hour and leaves from Long Beach, Newport Beach, and San Pedro. You’ll get awesome ocean views and maybe even see some dolphins! It’s a high speed boat, so it can get a bit choppy! Good thing they sell drinks. Alcohol solves everything, right?? They offer a birthday special for a free ride, so be sure to take advantage if you’re celebrating!
Island Express – If you’re feeling fancy or just really hate boats (feel ya!) check out Island Express Helicopters. You can take a 15 minute (huh?!!!) ride from Long Beach for $125. If you’re planning a day trip, this could be a great way to get the most out of your day, plus you won’t have to spend $$ on a hotel.
Seaplanes of Los Angeles – For a super indulgent experience, take a seaplane to Catalina. They can take you from pretty much anywhere and land you right in the harbor near Catalina’s main city, Avalon. We’re not gonna lie, landing a plane on water is a little bit frightening, but it’s perfect for adventure-seekers.
WHERE TO STAY
Catalina can certainly be a day trip, but to get the full experience, stay the night! There are some great options ranging from historic inns to luxurious hotels. Here are our picks.
Inn on Mount Ada – This is by far the most iconic spot on Catalina. Located at the top of a hill overlooking the town of Avalon, you’ll feel like you’re in a castle overlooking your kingdom – Which is probably what William Wrigley Jr. had planned when he developed the island and made the property his home back in the early 1900s. There are only 6 rooms, so plan ahead! Each guest gets their own golf cart to drive around town, there is breakfast and lunch everyday as well as a kitchen full of wine, beer, and snacks. Be sure to enjoy hors d’oeuvres or tea with the innkeepers to hear stories about Wrigley family history.
The Pavilion Hotel – A great spot close to all the action is the Pavilion Hotel. It’s walking distance from the ferry and all the restaurants and bars in Avalon. We love the fire ring with oceanfront lounging and wine reception they host each night. They also have a spa and feature group fitness and wellness activities so you can feel better about your weekend away.
Camping – One of the best ways to truly experience Catalina Island is by camping. There are some amazing campgrounds throughout the island, and you can even book one of the exclusive sites only accessible by boat. Book a campsite in Two Harbors for a more beachy experience, and check out Little Harbor, where you can rent everything from sleeping bags to firewood and even kayaks right there.
WHAT TO DO
There is so much to do on Catalina Island. You can spend all day shopping and eating, but be sure to check out some of the historic spots and take in all of the beautiful natural surroundings. I mean it must be awesome if Marilyn Monroe spent her time there!
Catalina Casino – The name is a bit confusing because Catalina Casino is actually not a casino at all. It’s a historic ballroom, theater, art gallery and museum. Check it out and take a tour to learn about the amazing ballrooms and theaters where all the greats from the early 1900s performed. Be sure to see the amazing art deco chandelier while you’re there!
Wrigley Botanical Gardens – Just a short 30 minute walk up the Avalon Canyon from the center of town is an amazing botanical garden next to the Wrigley Memorial. Wrigley and his wife Ada created the garden back in the 1930s using only endemic plants which would thrive in the natural climate. Some of the plants are so rare they’re even listed as endangered. By visiting, you’ll see some amazing gardens and help support conservation!
Catalina Island Skyline Drive – The Island is huge and offers some amazing views of the topography and wildlife, so be sure to see it all. This tour takes place in an awesome retro 1950s bus, and shows you all of the coves, oceans, canyons, and wildlife of Catalina Island.
Two Harbors Recreation Center – For a day of outdoor adventures, head out to the more quaint town of Two Harbors. The Recreation Center offers all kinds of activities from snorkeling to kayaking to biking.
Zip Line Eco Tour – Not for the faint of heart, the most extreme way to see the island is by Zip Line. You can check out all of the spectacular views of the island 300ft above ground, and learn about the island’s natural habitat along the way.
WHAT TO EAT
Most of the island’s restaurants are located in Avalon in the heart of the island. There’s everything from quick serve to fancy dining with a view, so you’re sure to find something perfect for your Summer Escape.
Inn at Mt. Ada Patio – Whether you’re able to stay there or not, be sure to dine at the Inn at Mt. Ada. Now open for guests and non-guests alike, you can sit on the patio with views of the town, harbor, and ocean as you eat some delicious fare.
Avalon Grille – For a nice upscale (but still relaxed) dinner, check out Avalon. As a great bonus, they have a delicious vegan vegetable ravioli on the menu, that will make your evening.
Café Metropole – If you’re looking for somewhere healthy and simple for a quick lunch, check out Café Metropole. They cater to special diets, so they’ll have some great vegan salads, wraps, and sandwiches perfect for a lunch on the water.
CC Gallagher – A great relaxed place to sit outside and enjoy a bite is CC Gallagher. This oceanfront café doubles as a wine bar and a local art and artisan gallery. Buy a bottle and take in all the local art, jewelry and pottery.
WHERE THE PARTY’S AT
If it’s just not a beach vacay without some nightlife, you’ll definitely get your fill in Catalina. There’s all kinds of local bars, shows and adventures to keep you busy all night long.
Descanso Beach Club – This is where the party’s at! We’re talking private cabanas, a hoppin’ bar, live performances and DJs all weekend long. It also helps that this is the only place in Catalina you can drink directly on the beach.
Luau Larry’s – If you’re looking for a classic beach drink and tiki bar vibe, you can’t find better than Luau Larry’s. It’s that iconic local spot with great live music, awesome drinks, and a guaranteed good time.
Avalon Theater – If you’re looking for a nighttime activity with just a little more culture than drinking, check out Avalon Theater. Each night they show a movie at 7:30 with a live organ performance in the classic art deco theater before.
Summit Night Adventure – Probably refrain from drinking if you plan to go on this crazy nighttime adventure. It involves off-roading in a biofuel Hummer to check out all the sights of Catalina in the moonlight.