The only thing more convenient than a staycation is a day trip. One of my favorite day trips in Los Angeles, CA is to Catalina Island. I grew up in Orange County, California so going to Catalina has been preferred destination for a while!
The Catalina Express departs out of various SoCal ports with ample depart/return times to choose from. The travel time is approx. an hour each way and you get a view the whole time!
Once you arrive on the island via Avalon Bay, the beautiful views are everywhere from Descanso Beach along the Avalon Shore to the gorgeous mountains that make up the terrain. There have been native inhabitants on the island for over 7,000 years but really, the resort vibe of the island has only developed over the last 120 years. After passing hands in ownership during the 1800’s, William Wrigley, Jr. (owner of Wrigley gum) snatched up the island, investing millions in its tourism and even building the historic Casino on Avalon.
My favorite aspect of the island is the Bison! The story goes that 14 Bison we transported to the island in 1924 for a Western movie. After filming, they left the Bison on the island and they’ve grown to a current population of approx. 150. Part of this growth is due to the Catalina Island Conservancy organization who puts forth efforts to preserve natural habitats and wildlife on the island. Furthermore, there are restrictions on automobiles present on the island. When you travel to Catalina, one of the first things you notice is there are tons of golf carts and slim to no cars. Avalon is the only city in California authorized by the state legislature to regulate the number and size of vehicles allowed to drive on city streets. Currently, there is a 14 year waiting list to own a car! Not only does this do wonders for animals populations but there is absolutely no smog around the island.
There are so many things to see and do. Below is a list of some things worth checking out there:
- Catalina Island Casino
- Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Gardens
- Rent Golf Carts to tour the island
- Banning House
- Inland Expedition (http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/activities-adventures/land/inland-expedition)
- Glass Bottom Boat
- Snorkeling (especially check out https://www.underwaterpavilions.com/#underwaterpavilions)
- Ice Cream at Big Olaf’s
- Hiking (tons of trail & camping info here: http://www.catalinaconservancy.org/index.php?s=visit&p=hiking)
The island has the most magical 1930’s feel. Even the store fronts and cobblestone roads feel authentic. Hope these tips help you plan your trip. Have you been? Let me know what cool activities you do while on Catalina Island!