The famed (but non-native) Catalina Island bison
  • The famed (but non-native) Catalina Island bison
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I’m always surprised at the number of Southern California residents who have never been to Catalina Island. My family spent quite a few summers on the island, and it’s the perfect opportunity to get away from it all without traveling far.

Just 22 miles off the coast of Long Beach and accessible by boat, helicopter or plane, this picturesque destination transports you to a quaint, idyllic holiday. Avalon has many moderately priced hotels and bed-and-breakfasts and a variety of mostly casual eateries to chose from. Golf carts are the main means of transportation, but bikes can easily be rented too.

The island offers activities including snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, hiking and golfing. The new Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour is drawing raves, and I highly recommend the Inland Motor Tour that takes visitors up into the rugged interior of the island. There you’ll see the so-called “Airport in the Sky” and perhaps stumble upon some wild buffalo along the road. The glass-bottom boat tours are also worth checking out, and the historic Catalina Casino is the most recognizable landmark in the city of Avalon.

A trip to Catalina Island is a not-to-be-missed opportunity – this beautiful resort island feels like another world, but it's just a short 90-minute boat ride across the Pacific channel.

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