Off the coast of California is a getaway island where you can relax and unwind. Catalina Island is part of the California’s Channel Islands and is centered around the town of Avalon. It is the perfect day trip or weekend getaway.
We departed at 9am from Newport Beach on the Catalina Flyer and arrived at the island around 10am. As we approached the island, the first thing I noticed was a large blue sign with the words “Hotel Catalina” in white lettering as if declaring, “Hey, over here! Look at me!”. Yup, that was our home for two nights.
What I like most about Avalon is how quaint the town is, from the pastel buildings to the floating boats in the harbor. It’s a serene little town with golf carts dominating the streets and seagulls flying about. It was the perfect three days trip for unwinding.
Here are 10 things you can do on Catalina Island:
1 . Visit Green Pleasure Pier
You can’t miss this unique green pier. It’s one of the first attraction you see. It calls you like a siren to walk upon its wooden floors and draws you towards its various vendors and eateries. It is where many of Catalina’s sea tours depart and where many fishes meet their fate.
2. Take a stroll to Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Garden
Located about 30 minutes uphill from town, this classic art deco structure is surrounded by a collection of native plants. There is a $7 entrance fee and is the access point to a variety of hiking trails.
3. Take a Hike on the Garden-to-Sky Trail
This 2.4 mile round trip hike is a constant uphill hike that begins at Wrigley Memorial and ends with a breathtaking view of both sides of the island. It’s a good option for those who wants to see more than just the town. You’ll need a hiking permit before you start, which is available free online at catalinaconservancy.org. The hiking permit is required for your safety.
4. Watch the sunrise over the ocean
Watching the sunrise over the ocean was my favorite part about this trip. From mainland California, you mainly see the sunset over the ocean but rarely a sunrise over the ocean. Plus, you kind of get the whole town to yourself in the early mornings, which is pretty nice.
5. Stroll along the waterfront to the Casino
Peaceful and relaxing, the stroll along the waterfront is a must do! Start from the Green Pleasure Pier and make your way towards the Casino (there is no gambling at all). The Casino is the most iconic building on Catalina Island. You can take a tour of the building or watch a movie in its theater.
6. Stop by Metropole Market Place
Souvenir shops, variety of eateries, and best of all, a mini-arcade. A perfect place to kill some time.
7. Enjoy the panoramic view from Buena Vista Point Scenic Overlook
The overlook offers a spectacular view of Avalon. It is about a 30 minutes uphill walk from town. It’s best to rent a golf cart to get to the overlook or be like us and hitchhike on a golf cart ride up the hill. Just kidding. A local gentleman offered us a ride to the viewpoint halfway through our walk up Wrigley Rd. He kindly told us about a shortcut from town to the overlook. If you end up walking to the overlook, take the below route. The stairs may be a bit steep for some but it’ll save you time.
Directions: Start at Avalon City Park. Take the stairs behind the park to Lower Terrace Rd. From the small parking lot, there is a set of stairs to the right. Take the stairs up to Middle Terrace Rd. Make a right on Middle Terrace. Turn left on Wrigley Rd and follow the road uphill to the overlook. Happy walking!
8. Take pictures on the stairs of the Inn on Mount Ada
Located right across the street from the Buena Vista Point Outlook is a set of white stairs leading up to the Inn on Mount Ada. It is an Instagram worthy spot.
9. Take a nap at Hotel St. Lauren 6th Floor Patio
Hotel St. Lauren is a quaint pink Victorian hotel on the hill with a view. The 6th floor patio is open to the public and a great place to take a nap (when there’s no people). It’s also offers a great view of the harbor. Unfortunately, the fog rolled in the morning we visited the patio.
10. Do nothing.
Seriously. Do nothing. Catalina Island has a way of making you feel relax.
Check out the below gallery for more images!