At the top of Avalon Canyon Road in Avalon is the 37 acres of gardens William Wrigley Jr created while he was on the island in the mid-1900’s. While many people complain that there is not a lot of diversity in the plants, there is a quiet beauty in the simplicity and style of the cacti and succulents that line the gardens as you walk to the Wrigley Memorial which overlooks it all. At $8, I think it is easily worth a stop to experience the plant life and some of the history of Catalina Island.
- Price: 8 dollars for adults (as of 2019)
- Hours: 8 AM – 5 PM daily
The memorial itself was started in 1933, a year after Mr. Wrigley passed away by his wife, Ada. The tiles came from Catalina Tile Factory, open in 1934 and the memorial itself is made almost entirely from materials found on the island itself. Mr. Wrigley was buried there until his body was moved to Glendale in 1947.
In 1935 his wife, Ada, started to plant the exotic succulents and cactus garden which was envisioned to become a beautiful desert plant sanctuary. There are over 500 different plants in the gardens with a majority coming directly from the California Islands themselves.
The first garden you enter is that of the plants which are native to California. These plants include and a wide range of strange and exciting specimens. I am not a plant person myself, but I can admire the different types, especially the unique ones. Here are some of my favorites
From here we headed to the cactus gardens which has a ton of different kinds of cacti. I liked the short barrel ones which I learned have water stored inside in case you ever find yourself in a survival situation there is your tip for the day.
I also like the ones that look like they are wearing socks, super technical term I know.
It was fun to explore as you continue up to the memorial.
The memorial is the final resting place of Wrigley, and his grave is at the top. It began construction in 1933 with a focus on using materials that were made or taken from the island itself. This led to the creation of the tile company from which all of the tiles that line the memorial are from.
As you proceed up the stairs, you will reach the fountain which was not running but has the beautiful tiles and a plaque to Mr. Wrigley.
After that, you will reach the final set of stairs that lead up to the pinnacle of the memorial.
From here you have a beautiful view over the canyon and the ocean below, and you can sit and relax while you take it all in.
Make sure to look at the beautiful tile work while you are up here as well before you proceed back down.
All in all, I found the gardens to be worth the $8 as it was very historic and had a lot of excellent picture opportunities. If you will like it is largely based on your feeling on horticulture and historical memorials. It is a unique way to spend an hour on Catalina, though.