The tiny seaport village of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island has had a makeover in recent years, and now the popular island destination boasts a state-of-the-art spa, a renovated beach club, and several noteworthy waterfront restaurants. If you haven’t visited the island in a while, there are more reasons than ever to visit.
There are several AAA Diamond-rated lodgings in Avalon (call for the latest rates). Among them:
Many of Avalon’s residential properties are also vacation homes and condos. Learn more by consulting your travel agent or Catalina Island Vacation Rentals (800-631-5280; catalinavacations.com).
The waterfront Bluewater Grill dishes up sustainable seafood and signature cocktails. 306 Crescent Avenue. 310-510-3474; bluewatergrill.com.
The Avalon Grille serves delicious American fare in an airy pub-style building. 423 Crescent Avenue. 310-510-7494; bit.ly/2o1hWwp.
Maggie’s Blue Rose, dishes up Mexican cuisine and margaritas; 417 Crescent Avenue. 310-510-3300; maggiesbluerose.com.
Other AAA Diamond-rated restaurants in Avalon include:
Lloyd’s of Avalon Confectionery, founded in 1941, makes chewy, house-made saltwater taffy. It’s hard to miss because it’s in the center of town with a taffy-pulling machine in the window. 315 Crescent Avenue. 310-510-7266; catalinacandy.com.
The Catalina Island Museum, which features the art, history, and culture of Santa Catalina, is in a new location at the Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building. On the first Friday of the month, the museum stays open late and ticket-holders get refreshments and admission to the digital theater and galleries and experience live performances, film screenings, lectures, and more. 217 Metrople Avenue; 310-510-2414; catalinamuseum.org.
Island Spa Catalina: You’ll find Catalina’s day spa in the restored El Encanto building. Designed with an aquatic motif and island tiles throughout, the spa also has a spacious rooftop lounge with harbor views. The outdoor pool, hot tub and soaking tub provide more opportunities to enjoy the plush surroundings. 163 Crescent Avenue; 310-510-7300; bit.ly/21bCheK.
Catalina Island Zip Line Eco Tour: Take an exhilarating ride from the mountains down to the sea. Each of the five consecutive zips highlights the island’s flora and fauna and provides a bird’s-eye view from high above the canyon floor. 1 St. Catherine Way; 310-510-7422; bit.ly/2dstjHE.
Catalina Island East End Adventure Tour: Enjoy a heart-racing excursion in an open-air biofuel Hummer that winds along interior roads and climbs 1,684 feet to East Peak, overlooking Avalon. It’s an E-ticket, knuckle-gripping, Indiana Jones–style ride. Some drivers provide hilarious commentary, while others offer interesting facts about Catalina’s history. You might even spot a few buffalo. Discovery Tour Plaza, 201 Catalina Avenue; 800-626-1496; bit.ly/2faLrGV.
Catalina Island Ocean Runner: Experience an outing on a Ribcraft that powers through the water at high speed in search of dolphins, sea turtles, and sea lions. It’s an hour-long, sometimes bumpy ride that is not recommended for women who are pregnant and anyone with neck or back injuries, or motion sickness. 1 Green Pleasure Pier, 100 Catalina Avenue; 800-626-1496; bit.ly/2dm0k7p.
From top to bottom, photos by Robert Landau / Alamy Stock Photo; Sunpix Travel / Alamy Stock Photo; Shelly Rivoli / Alamy Stock Photo
To help you get around the island, a free Santa Catalina Island Quick Guide map is available at a AAA Auto Club branch. For information about TourBook guides and TripTik Travel Planners, visit a branch or go to AAA.com/maps.