Best Escape from Southern California Traffic
A trip to Catalina Island is a true escape. Just a short hour-long ferry ride transports you from one of several ports along the southern California coast to a haven with few cars and beautiful vistas.
Plan your departure from Dana Point, Long Beach or San Pedro on the Catalina Express. You can upgrade to the Commodore Lounge and have a free drink and/or snack, but the trip is short so it’s not really necessary. Some of the ferries have private cabins available. Check out the website for details, they do not run every day, but when they are running have many trips. Average adult fates are $74 round trip, $67 for those over 55, bikes and surfboards $7 extra. Reservations are a good idea.
Once you dock in the town of Avalon be sure to rent a golf cart, it’s a great way to tour the island and get to the higher elevations quickly – then, enjoy the walking. You will find golf cart rentals as soon as you walk out of the ferry landing area. It’s delightful to stroll around town, with cute shops (look for the famous local pottery) and good restaurants. We enjoyed a delightful, tasty lunch at the Bluewater Grill.
Of course, there are hiking trails all over the island and activities like ziplining, parasailing, diving, and camping. Charming boutique hotels are available if you are lucky enough to spend more than a day.
William Wrigley, Jr., of baseball and chewing gum fame, bought controlling interest in the island and built a home here, and the Chicago Cubs held spring training on the island from 1921 – 1951. The Wrigley family have been great benefactors and the island owes its beauty to their generosity and foresight. In 1972, Phillip Wrigley established one of California’s oldest private land trusts, the Catalina Island Conservancy, protecting 88% of the island.
More than 500 movies were filmed here, including Mutiny on the Bounty with Clark Gable. John Wayne was quite a presence in his day when many westerns were staged on Catalina. As a result of those movies, about 200 buffalo still roam parts of the island, descended from 14 abandoned long ago after being brought in for a Zane Grey western. Today you can take a jeep eco-tour to check them out.
Ferry service: https://www.catalinaexpress.com/ 800.995.4386