The wee town of Avalon, California (Catalina Island’s only incorporated city) packs a lot of punch for its size. Although it measures in at just about one square mile, Avalon offers more things to do than a caffeine-fueled day-tripper can hope to check off before hopping on the evening boat back to the mainland. It’s a good idea to make reservations for guided tours, especially in the high seasons.
Rent a golf cart to zip around in…just because you can…, then grab a hearty breakfast at the lively Original Jack’s Country Kitchen. Get a great overview with some Instagram-worthy scenery and historic tidbits on a 50-minute Avalon Scenic Tour with the Catalina Island Company. Poke around in the shops along Crescent Avenue and snag some souvenirs. Don’t miss the house-made saltwater taffy at Lloyd’s of Avalon Confectionery; look for the taffy-pulling machine in the window.
In the afternoon, choose either land or sea adventures.
Go out on a high-speed rigid inflatable boat into the Catalina Channel and keep a lookout for frolicking dolphins and sea lions.
Thrill seekers will love the Catalina Island Zip Line Eco Tour. The exhilarating ride takes you from mountains to sea in five consecutive zips, with bird’s-eye views of the canyons and the Pacific from 300 feet above the canyon floor. This is one of the most popular activities on the island, and for good reason. Make a reservation and count on taking about two hours.
The zipline tour will end at Descanso Beach, where you can rent comfie chaise lounges with umbrellas, private cabanas and lockers at the Descanso Beach Club. By now you’ve earned a cocktail at the club’s open-air restaurant and bar on the palm tree-lined beach. The nearby Descanso Beach Ocean Sports offers kayak, snorkeling and stand-up paddleboard equipment, but save those for your next visit.
Now it’s time for dinner at the easy-breezy Avalon Grille. Soak up the ocean views while sipping a Wrigley martini and devouring freshly caught seafood and house specialties like the blue buffalo burger. Insider tip: Ask your server about the dinner and a movie offer of one movie ticket at the Avalon Theatre per entrée purchased between 5 and 6pm.
If relaxing on the beach is more the way you roll, spend your perfect day in Avalon soaking up the sun on South Beach, Middle Beach or Step Beach, all of which have lifeguards on duty during the summer months and are just sandy steps away from restaurants and shops.