Though it’s just a hop, skip and jump away from star-studded Los Angeles, Catalina Island feels like an entirely different world. Here, we give you the inside scoop on how to spend the perfect day in the tropical town of Avalon.
9 a.m.: Some travelers charter private flights, but the easiest way to reach Catalina Island is by ferry. Grab a boat from San Pedro or Long Beach — the journey takes about an hour — and enjoy the morning ride. You might just spot a dolphin or two.
10 a.m.: Avalon absolutely deserves an overnight stay. Even if you plan to head out early the next day, check in at one of the hotels or guest houses that surround Crescent Street. The Best Western Catalina Canyon Resort and Spa is ideal for luxury seekers, but don’t be afraid to cozy up at an unassuming inn; these properties are typically the best — and most inexpensive — ways to immerse yourself in the local atmosphere.
11 a.m.: It’s time to start exploring. Avalon is a tiny town, so it’s not difficult to get your bearings within an hour. Start at the ferry landing, make a loop around the bay, and then head back to the restaurants and boutiques on Crescent. Don’t worry about transportation; though some locals have cars, most tourists traverse Avalon on foot or by way of golf cart.
12 p.m.: Ready for lunch? There’s no place like the Lobster Trap. Situated just off the main section of Crescent, this casual spot offers some of the best seafood in town. Try the lobster roll or hearty cioppino. Trust us: You’ll be craving both for years to come.
1 p.m.: Catalina Island is gorgeous above all else, so you’ll want to spend a little time soaking up the natural splendor. One of the best lookout points in Avalon is located at the top of the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Gardens. Take the easy hike up Avalon Canyon Road, and spend the afternoon marveling at the flora, fauna and unbelievable sea views. Don’t forget your camera; the memorial structure is covered with world-famous Catalina tile.
4 p.m.: Once you’ve hiked your way back to sea level, rest those tired feet at one of the island’s top-notch cafes. Courtyard Coffee is a charming place to kick back, Cafe Metropole offers an array of sweet treats, and the Descanso Beach Club is great for beachfront cocktails. Bring your credit card, and you might even score some AmEx travel points on that so-delicious mojito.
6 p.m.: Evening is truly magical in Avalon. Head back to your hotel to freshen up, but don’t waste too much time indoors; you’ll want to spend any many minutes as possible in the sunset-hued streets. Take in the ocean views from Crescent’s public beach, stroll over to Ristorante Villa Portofino or Steve’s Steakhouse for dinner, and then burn off those calories with a jaunt through the the local boutiques.
8:30 p.m.: The excitement doesn’t end when the sun goes down. Though Avalon isn’t a bustling party town by nature, the city offers plenty of places to cap off a perfect day. Luau Larry’s is the best option for drinks and dancing, but CC Gallagher is among the most underrated night spots on the island. Catch the boutique-meets-restaurant on the right night, and you might be able to bid farewell to Catalina with an intimate wine tasting.