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 quickly make a day trip out of visiting these and doing so will give you insight into a culture and lifestyle that is similar yet 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 you are leaving from Newport, I suggest getting their early and going to Alta Coffee House for the Surfing Burrito and Coffee. Open from 6 AM it is a great early spot you can catch good food and coffee at before the boat ride. Since it is less than 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 an 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.

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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 of minutes except for the art house that I would plan to visit for 15-20 minutes. This walk is about a half mile and is all downhill so it should be good for most people.

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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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After arriving back into town, you should be ready for lunch, for 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 two fish, two shrimp, two scallops and two calamari on a bed of French fries. If you have another person with you that is a natural split. I also suggest the clam chowder in a bread bowl as it is delicious. 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 tasty! There are a lot of things to choose from, but I recommend the lobster tacos.


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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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The casino is also where the best place for trying scuba diving is, but that is 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 fantastic saltwater taffy.

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After that, you should be ready to head back to the boat, with a full belly and a couple of 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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