Walk up to the Catalina Country Club. It's an old country club from the 1930s designed in period revival architecture. The walk is nice, and the country club has a nice bar and restaurant. And if you want to play some golf, they have a lovely course.
I hear that Catalina hosts some of the best jazz venues ever. So, this year we had tickets to one of the venues. It's a 3 week long festival in October with several venues from Thursday through Sunday each weekend. The $$$ can add up if you buy tickets for more that one venue unlike some of the more local jazz festivals I've attended where you pay one price for the entire day. We saw Kirk Whalum. He gave an awesome 2 hour show! Had a blast! The Casino provides a full bar. So, I had a few kamakazis and a hang over the next day.
If you like to walk/hike I highly suggest walking up to the Wrigley Memorial. Just walk directly up Sumner Avenue. You will pass homes, the golf course and then you get to the Botanical Gardens and Memorial. You can check out the gardens and go up to the memorial. It's beautiful and has original Catalina tile all over it. From the Memorial you get a great view of Avalon Harbor and if it's clear, you can see the mainland. If you want a good hike, you can continue on some trails behind the memorial (I suggest stopping at the Catalina Island Conservancy to check on restrictions and get a hiking map). If you go all the way up the trails, you will hit the mountain ridge and see the back side of the island.
If you don't enjoy a long walk or if it's really hot, you can pick up a shuttle from town or get on a tour.
On Cemetery Rd, which naturally branches off Country Club drive, high above the Avalon school, is the park like landscape where Catalina pioneers and former residents are buried. I didn't find any TongV tribal burials here, but there were plenty of locals who were born, lived out their lives, and eventually died in this island paradise. We visited the grave of Wrigley's accountant, who was the one responsible for bringing my host to love this island. We also visited the memorial of young woman cut down early in life during a boating accident, and found a Wrigley daughter's grave.
Take Wrigley Road up the hill a couple of turns, and you will find on the left an abandoned gated estate that's been turned into a pet cemetery. Although the city has not formally permitted the use of this lot, it has not been bulldozed. And, for good reason because their are many charming memorials to dogs, cats, and even hamsters. Some of these memorials are quite elaborate. It's a good place to walk the dog.
At the far end of the Wrigley Botanical Garden you see this structure, Wrigley Memorial. This 130 feet tall building was built in 1934 in memory of Wrigley Jr. It's made of mostly locally-produced material such as tiles, marble, etc. Walk up the circular stairway to the top of tower, and enjoy its beautiful architure and valley view. The entrance fee to the Botanical Garden is about $3.
If you have the chance to visit the Pacific side of Catalina, you'll see San Clemente Island on the horizon, as seen in photo. Opposite to Catalina, San Clemente Island is completely reserved for military use. No visitors allowed.
The majority of tourists to Catalina Island only see Avalon. And most of them only see its waterfront (harbor and Crescent Street). But the real residents of Avalon live just a few blocks behind it. They get everything they need in town: a VON's supermarket, a Taco Bell/KFC, and a nice public library with internet. The photo shows the quiet life on the island. No automobiles. Only golf carts and bicycles. The little guy is on a tricycle.
The airport on Catalina Island, nicknamed "airport in the sky", is located at a mountain top in the center of the island, far from either the city of Avalon or Two Harbors. Inside there's a small cafeteria and a cute garden. Although you may not own a plane or fly one, it's still important to know the airport, especially if you plan to venture beyond the two cities into the inland. Here's why...
Since the airport is far away, it provides its own shuttle service for airport workers as well as the public. But few people know it. It's inexpensive compared with the "Inland Safari" provided by the tour operators but don't expect any narration or photo stops though. I usually take the shuttle to the airport, hike down to either Two Harbors or Little Harbor (small campground on the Pacific side), then catch the ferry back to Avalon. Since the airport is high in the sky, these hikes are mostly easy downhills with plenty of wildlife and scenery.
Here's a photo of my secret lagoon, but I'm not yet ready to give out the name. Sorry. This is also to protect those who live there. If you recognize this place, let's talk. Here's some hints...
1. I usually have to hike 2 hours to get there.
2. It's accessible by cars, but only to the residents of the village above it. The village has only 10 houses and not occupied year-round.
3. The lagoon is about 8 to 10 feet deep. Water warm. Fish plenty.
4. The lagoon is relatively small. I'm usually there by myself, sometimes joined by local kids. Or I should say I join them since this cove is supposed to be their own private.
The photo shows Hypress Reservoir near Toyon Junction. It's about the mid-way point between Avalon and Airport-in-the-sky. The reservoir looks like a natural lake, very beautiful.
In front of the it there's a small playground. Not sure why they put a playground here. This is quite a remote area and there's no school around. In the playground there's a pay-phone and also tap water in case you need to fill it up.
El Rancho Escondido means "lost ranch". It's indeed a hidden jewel of Catalina Island. It was founded by Philip Wrigley of the chewing gum giant Wrigley family in the 1930's. Although today 88% of the Island is managed by Santa Catalina Island Conservancy, the Wrigley family keeps this ranch at the remote corner of the Island, and continues its tradition of breeding award-winning Arabian horses.
The Ranch is located between airport-in-the-sky and Little Harbor. The easiest (also the most expensive) way to visit is to join one of the Inland Tours which provides narration and refreshments, and ends with a horse show. Or, you can visit by the Safari Bus that circles around the Island picking up and dropping off campers and their gears.
I took the airport shuttle to the airport-in-the-sky and hiked down here. This is also a good spot to see buffalos. They often wander around the Ranch trying to steal water and food from the horses.
The photo is taken from Little Harbor Overlook. You can clearly see the twin bays of Little Harbor separated by beach rocks; one placid, the other surf-pounding. Little Harbor is the only camp site on the Pacific side of Catalina Island. There's no residents here. You can either hike in or take the Safari Bus.
This is not some boat painted like a submarine. This is a real submarine. Instead of peaking through small windows like in other glass bottom boats, here you sit inside a glass ball submerging under water to get a 360 degree view. It can take 2 passangers at a time. It's located right next to the ferry terminal. The photo was taken a few years ago. I haven't seen them lately. Not sure if they are still in business.
If you like Ravens you need to take a tour up in the hills of Catalina . There are lots of big Ravens and 2 will also follow the tour bus and fly right next to it. Rumour has it that 3 used to follow the bus and they were named Edgar Allen and Poe but are down to 2 now . On a good day you can see bison also . We saw some off in the distance but nothing I could get a good enough picture of .