It has been made famous in song. It has been the playground for Hollywood stars. It was once the spring training home for the Chicago Cubs. Its golf course has played host to Tiger Woods. It’s Catalina Island, and it is just “Twenty Six Miles Across The Sea”.
With a quiet, relaxed life style, and an average of 267 days of sun annually, Catalina is an idyllic place to visit. Thanks to concern for conservation and preservation by William Wrigley, Jr. and his family, owners of controlling interest in Catalina Island since 1919, the island has kept its tranquil charm rather than become an island of high rises and high tech.
To get to Avalon, Catalina’s seaport and main town, you can take the hour and one-half journey from Long Beach, San Pedro or Dana Point aboard the comfortable Catalina Channel Express. Or, if you want to shorten the trip, and your budget can afford it, you can take a 20-minute helicopter flight across the channel. Either way, Avalon, home to all but a few hundred of the island’s 3600 permanent residents, will greet you with a beautiful crescent shaped harbor and a picturesque main street that boasts a variety of restaurants, shops and hotels.
Avalon has lots to offer. Its many shops can provide a daylong adventure for even the most jaded of shoppers. Non-shoppers can take highly educational and relatively inexpensive tours, including one to see historical sites, native flora and fauna, and possibly the 300 bison that roam the island. Tours on a glass bottom boat or the Nautilus undersea submarine present an opportunity to see migratory sea lions in their natural habitat, and view the highly colorful fish along the island’s reefs
Combining the Avalon Scenic Tour and The Casino tour is highly recommended. Both guided and narrated, these 50-minute tours highlight historic and scenic sights in and around Avalon. The Avalon Scenic Bus Tour will take you on a nine-mile ride along the seashore, though the hills, past the Wrigley mansion, the Catalina Country Club, and stop for outstanding photo opportunities of tranquil Avalon harbor.
A guided tour of The Casino, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, will awaken your artistic instincts as you view Wrigley’s wonderfully restored building which houses both an art deco movie theater and a highly impressive Grand Ballroom. During its 1930’s and 40’s heyday, the Grand Ballroom played host nightly to upwards of 6,000 tuxedoed gentlemen and gowned ladies who danced the night away to the top big bands of the era. Surprisingly, in spite of its name, The Casino has always been a ballroom and never a gambling casino.
If relaxing on the beach is more your style, join people of all ages who enjoy the sun on the small but inviting white sand beaches that line Crescent Avenue, Avalon’s main street. For those who want to sit and people watch, Crescent Avenue’s European style outdoor bars and restaurants are a must.
Whether you plan to stay a day, a week, or a month, Catalina is a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Southern California. For an enjoyable getaway, visit Catalina, the friendly island known worldwide. After all, it’s only “Twenty Six Miles Across The Sea”.
For complete information on transportation, lodging, restaurants, and things to do on Catalina, visit the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce website at www.catalina.com.