A memorable excursion on your trip to Avalon is the Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Gardens, located literally at the top of the town. Yes, this is the same Wrigley that made all the gum. The garden opens with a chintzy video about Catlina and its unique, endemic plants. Then you can wander around a neat little botanical garden. At the end of your walk you will see the Wrigley Memorial, which is a large structure decorated beautifully with glazed tiles made in Catalina. They are similar in style to the tiles seen in the Hearst Castle.
From the top of the memorial, you can see all of Avalon. It is a great view, and a nice place to stop and take a break after a steep hike up the hill.
The garden is a good starting point for some of Avalon's hiking trails. From here, we went on a hike along a hilltop path that ended up being more than five miles. It was a beautiful walk, but be prepared... it is longer than it looks on the map, so wear comfortable footwear and don't start too late.
Admission is $5.
A fun thing that everyone has to do on a trip to Catalina is look underwater, whether it is in a glass bottom boat or an undersea tour (semi-sub). The semi-sub is much more expensive, except in the off season, when they sometimes run the semi-sub for half price. I took the semi-sub tour with Discovery Tours, and it was very cool. They periodically drop food from the boat, encouraging colorful fish to swarm around the windows. The tour guide was cheesy as is to be expected, but it was a lot of fun trying to spot something unique out the windows.
Avalon is such a quaint little town that it is possible to walk from one end to the next in fifteen minutes. There are wonderful shops along the way and it is possible to spend time just meandering. However, watch out for rogue golf carts. There are few cars allowed on the island, but there are a lot of golf carts. Some are even customized to look like full size cars. My favorite is an aqua colored Mercedes-Benz!
Although a little pricey, you will get the ride of your life and may even see a few bison along the way. A bus, takes you up into the steep mountains overlooking the canyons and harbors of Catalina Island. It takes you from Avalon up to the Airport in the Sky. The Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are to die for!
We took this picture on the other side of the casino, away from the city of Avalon. In the summertime, you can rent snorkels, paddle boats, and kayaks to go out into the ocean. You can see the place you need to go to rent these things just behind us.
Called a casino but having nothing to do with gambling...this beautiful structure was a reknown ballroom back in its hey-day. It is still remarkable to see and extremely interesting to learn about. Don't miss this tour!
Even if it's close to Los Angeles, it feels a world away! Stroll the quaint streets of Avalon, and explore the adventurous village of Two Harbors. Hike past grazing buffalo and dive crystal clear water brimming with life. You'll have a great time no matter what you choose to do!!
Ocean kayaking is a lot of fun, too. You can rent single or double kayaks usually for the following hours: 1 hour, 2 hours, 1/2 day, full day. We paid $32 for a double kayak for 2 hours. You are allowed to kayak just about anywhere around the island and you can land on any of the public beaches and have some beach space of your own to sunbathe or snorkel. Most of the beaches on Catalina Island are rough and rocky. Wear booties!
This allows you to have some mobility on the water if you do not own a boat and to select a 'private' beach area on which to land.
Every year we take a Flying Fish Tour. It may be boring for some, but it's a family tradition to get out in the boat and watch those fish fly! If you take the tour, sit on the RIGHT (starboard?)side of the boat... you'll get the best view.
It's just good fun. They claim their tour is one of the two or three you can get in the world! It's worth a look.
Avalon itself is a quaint little town. Tours around the island are worth doing, though if you're on a day trip check how long the trip takes - you wouldn't want to miss the boat back to Long Beach - there again, maybe you would
There's swimming around the island and it's known for snorkelling around Avalon. Recommend a shorty wetsuit as the water is chilly even in summer..
The Casino is now a museum and restaurant. It is open most every day, I need to find more info on it, that's all I remember.