Planning a trip to Los Angeles? Want to get away from the hustle and bustle. We felt the same and decided to spend a day exploring Catalina Island. This was the most welcome break from the hectic city pace offered by the island’s mainland neighbor. You might want to do the same!
Stepping on this island, in the city of Avalon, is like stepping into a European village. Avalon is an ideal place to spend the day away from the hustle and bustle and experience an entirely different side of California.
The Catalina Express offers direct service back and forth from the mainland to the island via three different ports. There are multiple sailings each day. Because we had just returned from a cruise, we decided to begin our journey to Catalina via the Long Beach Port. We returned to the Port of San Pedro that night to have better access to our hotel that night.
Catalina is a little over 20 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. Each ferry route takes just a little over an hour, and the tickets are a little less than $50 per person each way. While you can buy advance tickets online, you can also buy them at the port itself, however the seats fill up quickly. Once on board, you can sit back and relax. Generally speaking, the ride is smooth.
Due to the nature of our overall trip to the Los Angeles area, we packed in our travel backpacks instead of suitcases. We were doing multiple things during our time there, including a short cruise. We knew there would be one day in which we didn’t have any place to leave our bags. Catalina turned out to be that day.
On our way to the island, we did a little research and found out lockers are available! Upon arrival in Avalon, the first thing we did was store our backpacks in the lockers at the pier. They fit perfectly! Finding storage available in such a convenient location is a major bonus! Plus, the lockers only cost one dollar each for unlimited storage time. There is also a change machine located nearby to get quarters.
Strolling Through Avalon
After our bags were secured, and we switched into flip-flops, we set out to explore this quaint little town. Immediately, it felt like we were in another country. The town is small but offers plenty of things to pass the day away.
Much like other small towns, there are candy shops, boutique hotels, and trendy restaurants. On top of all this, there is a cute beach, pier, and waterfront boardwalk. This really is a romantic little island and is a great place to waste the day away.
Avalon is also reminiscent of an artist’s community, with photography studios, intricate tile work, great architecture, and so much more! Strolling the tree-lined pedestrian streets is the perfect way to spend the day, or golf cart rentals are available on nearly every corner. The dog-friendliness of this community really stands out. We found sweet pups everywhere, which made us both happy since we miss our dogs so much when we are traveling!
Beyond sightseeing around town, Avalon has plenty of activities available for visitors to participate in. We watched several people go parasailing, but I’m not sure how they tolerated it because it was so cold the day we visited in December!
There are plenty of things like island tours, glass bottom boats, a botanical garden, snorkeling and scuba diving, and so much more! And, because if you visit in the off-season like us, the town will be somewhat busy but not bursting at the seams. December is a great time to visit!
So, if you are visiting Southern California, and would like a change of pace for a day, be sure to visit Catalina Island! It’s easy to access, charming, and affordable. The area is beautiful, and it is a world apart from metro Los Angeles. Our day here was probably one of our most favorite days during this particular trip, and we easily could have spent more time strolling through out the quaint streets, visiting shops, and wasting the day away.