The island of Catalina, off the coast of Southern California, has been a popular spot for weekend adventures for over a century, and the landmark building known as the casino is one of the islands most iconic spots. The casino is not a casino in the traditional sense with gambling and such, but a gathering place for people with a movie theater and one of the largest circular dances floors in the world. While it is still open for movies and events during the year, you can also tour the casino daily as well. We went for a tour on a recent trip, and I have to say it was an enjoyable experience and one I highly recommend while on the island.
- Cost: $20
- Hours: Daily at 11:45 am and 2:30 pm
To get to the island, you have to take a boat from either Long Beach or Dana Point. Once you get to Avalon, Catalina, you will be able to see the famous casino building and can walk over to it for the tour.
We got there about 15 minutes before the tour started and paid to join it. There were only three other people with us on the tour, but it was a weekday, so I am not sure if it is more popular on the weekends.
Our tour guide started the one hour tour with some history on the large murals at the front of the Casino. These panels were designed by famous artist John Gabriel Beckman.
From there, we entered into the lobby and then moved into the fantastic movie theater. This theater was immaculate with a sizeable cylindrical ceiling that helped provide amazing acoustics and that the Radio City Music Hall in New York was based after.
We got to watch a short 15-minute movie while we were in the theater on the history of it and it was a fun way to get a better understanding of the area and to experience seeing a movie there.
From the theater, we walked up to the second floor on the slanted cement pathways that resembled what you would find in a baseball stadium (the creator was William Wrigley Jr. from Wrigley Feild).
The next stop was a visit to the famous ballroom, and it was just as impressive as you would imagine.
The 20,000-foot circular ballroom is gigantic (world’s largest circular ballroom), and I have to imagine the parties in here are pretty special.
The ceiling and chandelier are also impressive with an art deco design that I spent a lot of time admiring.
For our last stop on the tour we got to go out on the balcony and overlook the city of Avalon.
It was a fantastic last stop as the views were awe-inspiring and were worth the price of admission for me. The tour guide gave us ample time to take photos out here before we starting walking back down to the lobby.
All in all, this is a great tour and a fun way to experience the history of Catalina Island. I highly recommend you go on it if you are into this type of thing and let me know what you think in the comments.