Sometimes the best getaways are those little gems that your nearby city holds. Located just a short boat ride away from Newport Beach, Catalina Island offers a romantic and laid back experience. The best part is getting away from the L.A traffic and finding yourself on an island that has almost no cars. Once you lose sight of the city and those freeways are long gone, you will be immersed with restaurant options, entertainment, beauty and relaxation.
To best enjoy the island without rushing, a one night stay will do but one day will also give you enough time to explore it.
Here are some fun things to do on Catalina Island.
1. Ride a Bike
With no option to rent a car (not that you need one), the next best thing was to rent a bike for a few hours to stroll the cute streets of the island. It’s fun to get a good workout especially if you ride uphill to the Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Garden.
2. Drive a Golf Cart
If you prefer, you can rent a golf cart to get around the island. They serve well for every time you want to go uphill to catch a beautiful sight of the island.
3. See and feed fish on a Glassbottom Boat
Bringing the underwater world right to us was quite fun. We were able to feed the colorful fish that thrive among the kelp found in the Lover’s Cove Marine Preserve during our boat ride.
4. Walk the Island to find some great views
Catalina is best done by foot. We spent most of our time walking and in search of views where we could capture the beauty of the island. The furthest we walked was to the botanical garden, and that only took 30 minutes. Everything else is even closer.
5. Relax on the Beach
Descanso Beach Club is a restaurant and bar located right on the beach. Here you can rent cabanas or a lounge chair while relaxing and enjoying the view. You can also relax at South Beach and Middle Beach located on each side of the Green Pleasure Pier. Both are walking distance to shopping, food, restrooms, and activities.
6. Visit the Casino
Not exactly what you imagine. The Catalina Casino is actually a ballroom and movie theater. It’s also known for its art and beautiful views. Built in 1929, the casino is a “place to gather,” based on the Italian meaning. If you decide to do the casino tour, you’ll learn about the building’s history, see a short film and theater, go behind the scenes, explore the ballroom, and enjoy the wonderful views of the island.
7. Pick some fun activities
Besides riding bikes, the island has many options for fun. You can go on a zip line tour and fly 300 feet above the Descanso Canyon. You can go on a jeep tour to see bison roaming around Catalina. Or you can go kayaking, paddle boarding, or snorkeling.
8. Explore the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden
The memorial and garden are just a 30 minute walk away or a quick trolley ride if you prefer to skip the exercise. The name might sound familiar to you because of the famous chewing gum and you are on the right track. Sir William Wrigley bought most of the island in the early 1900s. Now, he has a memorial named after him because he played a big role in the history of the island. The Botanical Garden is a nice place to explore the plants and to take in the ocean views from afar.
The Wrigley Memorial itself was our favorite. The monument was made mostly from material found at Catalina Island. It includes red roof tiles, glazed tiles and blue flagstone. From the top you get those amazing views we just mentioned.
9. Do some shopping
Catalina Island has many small shops. You can find anything from souvenirs, to pottery, and art.
10. Drink Micheladas
Something we did three times while at the island was stop for some delicious Micheladas. This was the best way to relax before walking the pier or laying out on the beach. Get your drink on at Mi Casita Mexican Food.
11. Indulge in a Dessert
It’s no secret. We have a strong sweet tooth for ice-cream and pastries. Catalina Island was quite pleasant because it fulfilled our need to feed those sugar cravings. You can stop at Scoops for some ice-cream but they also serve Starbucks. A stop Big Olaf’s will get you that delicious ice-cream picture above, and last but not least Lloyd’s has some delicious candy!
12. Eat your way around the island
Because food is the way of life, right? One of our favorite eateries was the breakfast at Original Jack’s Country Kitchen. We stopped here because we saw a long wait line outside the restaurant, and since no one is living a rushed life during their visit to Catalina, we decided we would also wait. It definitely was worth it. We also enjoyed some delicious pizza at Antonio’s Pizzeria and Cabaret, and savored a quick snack (a yummy chili cheese dog) at Avalon Seafood Fish and Chips on the pier for a decent price. However, many places we didn’t make it to are quite popular such as The Lobster Trap, Luau Larry’s, and Avalon Grille.
13. Enjoy the sunset cruise back
As if all that wasn’t enough, the ride on the ferry is an adventure itself. On the way back you might be lucky enough to experience a beautiful sunset.
Tell us, have you ever been to Catalina Island? What was your favorite thing to do? Did anyone stay for more than two days?
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