Avalon Day Trip: What to do on Catalina Island

One of the most unique things about Southern California is the quick and easy access there is to the coastal islands ranging from Catalina to the Channel Islands National Park. You can easily make a day trip out of visiting these and doing so will give you insight into a culture and lifestyle that is similar and different from the rest of Southern California. If you are heading to Catalina though here are my recommendations for how to spend a day trip on the island, specifically in the town of Avalon.

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Breakfast & Boat Ride

If leaving from Newport I suggest getting their early and going to Alta Coffee House for the Surfing Burrito and Coffee. Open from 6AM it is a great early spot you can catch good food and coffee at before the boat ride. Since it is less then 5 minutes away, from there you can head to the harbor and wait in line to board the boat and head out to Catalina. I don’t have a ton of recommendations on what to do on the boat but the hour trip goes pretty fast so just bring a book or take in the sights.

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The Gardens and Will Richards Studio

After getting off the boat proceed to the small town strip and grab a trolley up to the Wrigley Gardens for 2 dollars. They pick up only once and hour at each stop so make sure to be ready as this is a great thing to do first.

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Explore the beautiful succulent gardens and the famous Wrigley Memorial 7 dollars. I will have a full post on that area soon.

Wrigley Botanical Garden 4

After the memorial opt to walk the mile and a half back into town as it is beautiful and there are some fun things to see on the way.

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On this walk back you can see the campground, the golf course, old bird cage which is now a preschool and the Will Richards Studio. Each should only take you a couple minutes with the exception of the art house that I would plan on 15-20 minutes for. This walk is about a half mile and is all down hill so it should be good for most people.

Catalina Art House 5

If you decide not to take the walk you can always just play a round of mini golf or visit the arcade as well.

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Lunch

After arriving back into town you should be ready for lunch, of which I have an expensive and a medium priced recommendation.

Medium priced – Fish and Chips on the pier.

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This little shack on the pier is a walk up and order place that specializes in fried seafood. I suggest Combo One which is 2 fish, 2 shrimp, 2 scallops and 2 calamari on a bed of French fries. If you have another person with you that is an easy split. I also suggest the clam chowder in a bread bowl as it is really good. Grab your food and sit on the pier with a view like this.

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Expensive – Lobster Trap

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Plan on about 15-20 dollars a person here but the seafood is ridiculous and super good! There are a lot of things to choose from but I recommend the lobster tacos.

 Shopping

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After lunch walk the shopping streets which can take as long or as little time as you like. They mostly have art, some clothing and cheap souvenirs but some good finds can be had there, especially if you are into the unique art that is prevalent on this island.

The Casino

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After shopping make your way over to the casino, which is only a casino in name, you cannot gamble at it, but it is the massive flagship building on the island. You can tour this for 9 dollars, twice a day or just walk around and take it all in.

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This is also where the best place for trying scuba diving is, but that would be a post for another day.

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Ice Cream

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After visiting the casino head over to Big Olaf’s ice cream and indulge in one of their famous waffle cones, there is always a line, but that is how you know it is good.

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Lastly if your sweet tooth hasn’t been filled or if you need to bring something back for a loved one, head into Louie’s Candy Shop for some amazing salt water taffy. Here is a video of it being made.

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After that you should be ready to head back to the boat, with a full belly and a couple adventures completed. This guide obviously does not talk about any of the excursions which I am sure are great as well but just deals with what you can do on the island. Let me know what you think I left off in the comments.

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Map

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  • Michele

    Oh yeah! Gotta get a Big Olaf’s!

    • Heck yes, it was some awesome ice cream!

  • And ride a golf cart!

    • I do like that you can rent golf carts there, but since the town is so small and the golf carts cost so much to rent, I always opt to spend the money on other things.

  • Thanks for the comment and suggestion!

  • Whitney

    This is awesome! I’ve been looking for reasons to explore different areas of California since moving here. Blog posts like this are perfect. Thanks!

    • Thanks for the comment and I am glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Celina Walker

    Great post! Is there night life in Catalina?

    • Thats a good question, I haven’t stayed overnight. Maybe someone else can comment on this

  • Kathryn Rynders Howard

    I’ve been to Catalina on a day trip. I absolutely love this place. There aren’t many places I’ve been to that I’ve wanted to revisit, but Catalina is an exception.

    Night life… pretty much a day activity place unless you’re staying on the island. I suggest day trips. I’m ready!

  • Tamara Wilcox

    Enjoy Descanso Beach, the private beach where you can rent a cabana, enjoy a walk-up bar/cafe, or rent kayaks.

    • Thanks for the comment and suggestion!

  • Dona Gilbert

    hi

  • Ariana Jenkins

    If you ever head back to Catalina, Two Harbors is lovely! We hiked up to Ballast Point and had a great view of Two Harbors. It’s very green right now from the rain making the area exceptionally beautiful.

  • Ryan

    Will be worsted if I only spend only one day there? leave in the morning and come back evening ?

    • Yep, most everything in this post is from a trip I did that was a day trip as well.