Catalina Island, located about 20-25 miles west of Los Angeles, California, is full of adventure and class. It is a famous landmark for the Chicago Cubs’ practice field (which was owned by the candyman William Wrigley, Jr. himself). There have been a number of movies filmed on the island.
Ok, to be honest with you, the kids were not terribly impressed with Catalina. It’s a pretty island but there aren’t a ton of things for kids to do on Catalina. With such a small number of kids that live on the island, there is not a huge supply of entertainment. Here are some things they can do though. There are a couple of playgrounds, one close to the beach and one a few blocks west of the docks. There’s not an abundance of equipment to play on, but there’s enough to let the kids get some energy out. Next, there is an arcade center (Three Palms Avalon Arcade) in the heart of Avalon’s shopping and eating complex. They offer bowling, video games, food and drinks, and an electronic shooting gallery. The weather was a bit chilly and I’m sure the kids would have had more fun if they could have been involved with more high-adventure activities or watersports.
We’ve heard on numerous occasions that Catalina has some of the best snorkeling and diving around (underwater kelp forests). Parasailing is also a big hit! If you’re not into swimming with the fish or flying above them, perhaps you might be interested in their glass-bottom boat tour.
If shopping is your thing, you can easily spend two to three hours just in shops close to the beach. There are a few souvenir shops that are relatively inexpensive. There are also multiple restaurants and courtyards surrounding the shops which are ideal for the less avid shoppers.
One thing that did impress our kids was the casino. The archway at the doors to go into the casino remind you of “The Little Mermaid” ride in Disneyland. They offer behind the scenes inside tours for about $25 to $30 a person. The tour includes a look inside the ballroom and the theater. The ballroom itself is used often for weddings, receptions, banquets, jazz bands, etc. If you’re not interested on what goes on inside, the outside landscaping is amazing! The younger ones ESPECIALLY loved the rocks to the side of the casino. Depending on the time of year, temperature of the water, and weather conditions, you could possibly spot whales in the not too distant waters. Be careful on the rocks though… Justin actually fell on those rocks and it left a nice spot on his face for the remainder of our trip. If you find yourself there at night or on the weekend, they often show movies, hold musicals, have live bands, etc. Check their website for more information on ticket pricing and events.
Because the island is small and the streets are incredibly narrow, most residents own golf carts instead of cars. With that said, there are multiple companies that offer golf cart rentals throughout the city of Avalon. The prices are a little steep, so keep that in mind before renting one. Also, you can book online which could speed up the process. For more information on golf cart rentals, check out the following website: http://catalinaislandgolfcart.com/cart-rentals.html. There are companies on the island that provide child seats if you need one. Also, there are 4-passenger and 6-passenger golf carts.
There is a ferry that goes from a port of your choice… Long Beach, Dana Point, or San Pedro to Avalon, Catalina or Two Harbors, Catalina. They offer one way or round-trip tickets with a varying prices based on the type of seating you want. There are multiple times offered for drop off and pick up. The ferry ride is usually about an hour. You can purchase tickets online if you would like to skip the line at the ticket booth. For more information on pricing and scheduling or to book your ferry ride, visit the Catalina Express website at http://www.catalinaexpress.com/schedule-fares.html.
For more information about Catalina- the history, lodging, entertainment, and more- visit their website about http://www.catalinachamber.com. Or, if you want more information about specific tours, check out the following page: http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/activities-adventures/land.