Your Family Escape to Catalina Island: Top 5 Adventures
Are you looking to head to a dreamy European-like tropical location in the U.S.? Look no further-Catalina Island has it all! Right off the coast of LA, this Mediterranean-vibed island is just a ferry ride away. We got lucky enough to spend three amazing days here and these were our top five experiences traveling as a family!
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Where to stay in Catalina Island, California
Modern comfort and convenience featuring hotel and camping accommodations as well as an array of land and ocean tours.
The Avalon Hotel
Coastal beauty, seaside charm and luxurious accommodations on Catalina Island.
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Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel
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Things to do in Catalina Island, California
Rent a Golf Cart & Take the Scenic Route
If you do anything on Catalina Island, do this! Following this route, which takes about 1-2 hours depending on how long you stop to admire the views, can achieve the iconic Instagrammable photos of the aerial view! We rented a cart from Cartopia (It ran $55/hour) and they gave us a map of all the places to stop! We had a lot of fun riding all around the Avolon area and baby Graham slept the whole time! Tip: If you’re traveling with a little one, you’ll want to have your car seat to take along on the ride!
We will probably be talking about this restaurant for years to come! We saw the sign for fresh sushi on our way off the ferry and thought we’d try it out. Long story short, we ended up eating here three times in three days, and it was so good! We had a torro-cut bluefin tuna sashimi, a shrimp appetizer and amazing sushi rolls (probably the freshest we’ve ever had). My mouth is watering just thinking about it! This restaurant had a great casual vibe that we needed and the service was great!
When you go to Catalina, seeing the other end of the island is a must. In fact, many people backpack on the Trans-Catalina Trail (a 37.2-mile trek) from one end of the island to the other! If you don’t have time for that, the Catalina Island Conservancy has the perfect alternative— an Eco-Tour! We couldn’t book the Bison tour because Graham was too young, so we chose this one and were not disappointed. Our guide was so very knowledgeable about the island and we learned some incredible history. A bonus was we could spot two bison! Why are there Bison on Catalina Island, you may ask? See for yourself by taking this fun tour! We did the 2-hour option and it was plenty! Note: If traveling with a little one, this is another activity you will want to have your car seat for!
Drink a Buffalo Milk at The Buffalo Nickel (for the adults on your trip!)
When we’re traveling, we always meet some really interesting people and this trip was no different! We met a lady on the ferry who had visited Catalina her whole life! She told us we must go here for the best Buffalo Milk! This yummy tropical cocktail consists of half a shot of Creme de Cocoa, half a shot of Kahlua, half a shot of Creme de Banana, one shot of vodka and Half & Half, then topped with whipped cream! This place is on the outskirts of town but was a pretty cool venue! If you can't get one here, make sure to try it in one of the other restaurants!
Explore Avalon’s Waterfront Area
There are so many shops and restaurants that are fun to visit while you’re on island time! Along with this, the views from the pier and the walkway towards the casino are breathtaking! They say it feels like you’re in the Mediterranean and we could not agree more!
Places to eat & drink in Catalina Island, California
Get Out on the Water: The Duhls did not do this, but our friends did with their four-year-old and seven-month-old! Their little girl loved seeing the fish and when asked, she said this was her favorite thing on the island! Another option is a glass-bottom boat tour! We can help you book a tour like this.
The Sand Trap Restaurant: This is a great place for brunch. It is across the street from the golf course and has a definite island vibe. We had a Mexican-style breakfast and it was very yummy and filling.
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out Fora Travel Avisor Ashley Besic's guide, Exploring Santa Catalina Island.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to California.