Did you know that Southern California has a magical Island getaway just 45 minutes from Long Beach? We have never been as a family and it sounded like the perfect Island for us to explore.
First I was wondering what is Catalina Island and how was this beautiful island established? – Here’s the Story for our history friends *
* Catalina Island Company was established in 1894 by the pioneering Banning brothers, who bought Catalina Island with the goal to transform it into a resort destination. In 1919, after a run of bad luck, they were forced to sell shares of the island to a group of investors that included William Wrigley Jr. The chewing gum magnate eventually gained controlling interest in the company, investing millions in needed infrastructure and various tourist attractions, including iconic Catalina Casino in 1929. Wrigley created publicity for the island by bringing his beloved Chicago Cubs to Avalon, where they held spring training from 1921-51 in Avalon Canyon near the Catalina Island Golf Course. After Wrigley introduced Hollywood to Catalina in the late 1920s, the island became a backdrop for a number of movies and a favorite getaway for many A-list stars.
In 1972, members of the Wrigley and Offield families deeded 88% or 42,135 acres of Catalina’s interior and coastline to a private land trust, and established the Catalina Island Conservancy. Today, Catalina Island Company offers a complete resort destination experience, with hotels, restaurants, Spa, water sports, camping and a host of land and sea activities, tours and adventures that showcase Catalina’s culture, history, rugged wilderness and unique marine ecosystem.
Our transportation to the Island was provided by the Catalina Express. The beautiful port in Long Beach felt like a luxury waiting area in an airport. Our trip went so fast and we landed in Avalon. It was the cutest beach side town. Full of character and people. You can eat, shop and play right on the main street while looking at the fun on the beach.
Immediately after landing we started our first island excursion, an undersea expedition in a climate-controlled cabin, where we came face to face with Catalina’s abundant marine life from our own personal porthole. We saw an incredible array of sea creatures, including California’s bright orange Garibaldi. The Ziering girls loved this magical experience! It was so cool to feel like the fish were looking in on us.
After our epic trip under the sea we spent the afternoon walking around the main street and shopping before checking in to The Pavilion Hotel. We enjoyed their 4:30 Wine and Cheese hour and mingled in the beautiful courtyard with other families.
For dinner we took a trip just a block away to the Avalon Grill. The Avalon Grille features premium Angus beef and line-caught local fish, artfully crafted into a variety of original dishes and regional favorites. A wall of windows opens to create an al fresco dining experience steps from Avalon Bay. We sat watching the ocean during our delicious meal! It was such a great experience and we were thrilled with how amazing the food was on the island.
The next morning we started with a beautiful breakfast in the library of The Pavilion Hotel. From there rented a golf cart to tour around the beautiful island.
We made our way to the green Pleasure Pier and climbed aboard the 2,500-horse power Cyclone for a thrilling journey of discovery to the eastern tip of Catalina, where we got to get close to the furry residents of Seal Rocks. Along the way, the crew shared interesting facts about the island’s geology, while we kept your eyes peeled for bald eagles, dolphins, whales and other wildlife on this fast and fun off-shore adventure. The Ziering girls kept a look out for Sharks but felt confident that they were hiding from their daddy the Shark Slayer.
We spent the rest of our day at the beautiful Descanso Beach Club. The kids played in the ocean while Ian and I enjoyed the cabana life and a couple of cold ones before it was time to head back to Long Beach on the Catalina Express. We both agreed that The Descanso Beach Club is now our new favorite beach destination in SoCal! It was truly stunning with the best service.
Thank you so much for inviting us Catalina and we can’t wait to come back!
- Erin Ziering