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Day Tripping in Avalon, Catalina

Haven't been to Catalina yet? Under 3 hours' travel from S.D., the island is a world of its own.

Hilltop view of Avalon Harbor, Catalina. Photo Credit: Karen Chazanovsky
Hilltop view of Avalon Harbor, Catalina. Photo Credit: Karen Chazanovsky
One of the island's iconic bison, originally brought over for a film in the 1920s and 30s. The herd currently numbers around 100.

Under three hours' travel from San Diego, Catalina Island is truly a world of its own. Avalon, the island’s main (and only incorporated) town, offers equal parts relaxation and adventure.

Here’s how to enjoy a day of island fun in the sun!

Getting to Catalina

Avalon is closer than you think. It’s a one-hour drive from San Diego to Dana Point Harbor and a 1.5-hour ferry ride via the Catalina Express. Or, if you’re short on time but not money, you can schedule a helicopter ride from Long Beach to Avalon.

Before leaving home, dress comfortably and wear walking shoes. Don’t forget to bring layers (the afternoons can get chilly), snacks, and a reusable water bottle.

Where to Stay

If you’d like to be close to the action in Avalon, book a room at the Pavilion Hotel or Hotel Atwater.

William Wrigley Jr. purchased the Catalina Island Company more than a century ago, and Hotel Atwater was the first hotel built on the island under his direction.

Vacation rentals and campground reservations are also reliable alternatives.

What to Do

Stroll along the waterfront, or rent a golf cart and zip around town. It’s easy to spend the entire day exploring the boardwalk boutiques and family-owned stores. Avalon is a shopper’s heaven.

The Ridgetop Eco Tour's biofuel Hummer Photo Credit: Karen Chazanovsky

Play a round of mini golf at Golf Gardens. This attraction has been a source of nostalgic fun for over 50 years. Considered by mini golf enthusiasts as one of the most unique courses in the world, its challenging 18-hole layout will bring out the best in you. No one game is the same.

Tour the backcountry of Catalina Island with Ridgetop Eco Adventure. As you cruise the rugged canyons that open to ocean horizons, you’ll get an up-close-and-personal feel for the island’s topography.

This memorable 4-wheeling adventure makes stops along the way so that you can take in sweeping views of both sides of the island. Who knows, you might even spot a herd of bison…

Catalina Casino

Before you board the ferry back to Dana Point Harbor, enjoy a late lunch at Descanso Beach Club, which is a short walk past the historic Catalina Casino.

Ceviche at Descanso Beach Club Photo Credit: Karen Chazanovsky

The beachfront restaurant and bar offers an open-air setting with comfortably spaced tables and serves a variety of appetizers, burgers, wraps, sandwiches, salads, and classic cocktails. Trying bison milk is a must!

A Day Well Spent

A day trip to Avalon on Catalina Island is the perfect getaway for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the mainland.

Don’t you owe yourself a little close-to-home escape?

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Hilltop view of Avalon Harbor, Catalina. Photo Credit: Karen Chazanovsky
Hilltop view of Avalon Harbor, Catalina. Photo Credit: Karen Chazanovsky
One of the island's iconic bison, originally brought over for a film in the 1920s and 30s. The herd currently numbers around 100.

Under three hours' travel from San Diego, Catalina Island is truly a world of its own. Avalon, the island’s main (and only incorporated) town, offers equal parts relaxation and adventure.

Here’s how to enjoy a day of island fun in the sun!

Getting to Catalina

Avalon is closer than you think. It’s a one-hour drive from San Diego to Dana Point Harbor and a 1.5-hour ferry ride via the Catalina Express. Or, if you’re short on time but not money, you can schedule a helicopter ride from Long Beach to Avalon.

Before leaving home, dress comfortably and wear walking shoes. Don’t forget to bring layers (the afternoons can get chilly), snacks, and a reusable water bottle.

Where to Stay

If you’d like to be close to the action in Avalon, book a room at the Pavilion Hotel or Hotel Atwater.

William Wrigley Jr. purchased the Catalina Island Company more than a century ago, and Hotel Atwater was the first hotel built on the island under his direction.

Vacation rentals and campground reservations are also reliable alternatives.

What to Do

Stroll along the waterfront, or rent a golf cart and zip around town. It’s easy to spend the entire day exploring the boardwalk boutiques and family-owned stores. Avalon is a shopper’s heaven.

The Ridgetop Eco Tour's biofuel Hummer Photo Credit: Karen Chazanovsky

Play a round of mini golf at Golf Gardens. This attraction has been a source of nostalgic fun for over 50 years. Considered by mini golf enthusiasts as one of the most unique courses in the world, its challenging 18-hole layout will bring out the best in you. No one game is the same.

Tour the backcountry of Catalina Island with Ridgetop Eco Adventure. As you cruise the rugged canyons that open to ocean horizons, you’ll get an up-close-and-personal feel for the island’s topography.

This memorable 4-wheeling adventure makes stops along the way so that you can take in sweeping views of both sides of the island. Who knows, you might even spot a herd of bison…

Catalina Casino

Before you board the ferry back to Dana Point Harbor, enjoy a late lunch at Descanso Beach Club, which is a short walk past the historic Catalina Casino.

Ceviche at Descanso Beach Club Photo Credit: Karen Chazanovsky

The beachfront restaurant and bar offers an open-air setting with comfortably spaced tables and serves a variety of appetizers, burgers, wraps, sandwiches, salads, and classic cocktails. Trying bison milk is a must!

A Day Well Spent

A day trip to Avalon on Catalina Island is the perfect getaway for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the mainland.

Don’t you owe yourself a little close-to-home escape?

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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