Catalina Island is one of the easiest and quickest mini-holiday destinations for the residents of Southern California. And for those coming to visit Hollywood Blvd and take the tour bus through Bel Air it is a great side trip that is cheap and TOTALLY WORTH IT! My husband and I have literally gone about 10 times and for every and all occasions (secret honeymoon, Valentines Day, birthday). Needless to say we have solidified the list and all you need to do now is book it!
1. Local pub to drink at
JL's Locker Room.....This is literally not the place to go if you want to feel like a tourist. This place is chock er blocked full of local construction workers and a few old timers that will probably be in there from 10am on. But if you're like us and you just love any and all diver bars then you've found your spot. Cheap drinks with a heavy hand, you'll definitely fall out at the end of the night happy and drunk. Try the locals favorite (and be careful) Vodka, sprite, soda water and a lemon...yummy.
2. Good breakfast spot
Sally's Waffle Shop....I wish this place was down the street. It's the perfect morning grub. Not too expensive and don't expect perfect service or the best food in the world, but it just hits the spot and you leave looking forward to the next morning.
3. Local dinner recommendation
Coyote Joe's....Yummy mexican food and a fav with the islanders. The price is good and it's a big meal, but you will leave pretty happy.
4. Spend the afternoon
Descanso Gardens....Order yourself (and friends) a pitcher of Buffallo's Milk (the local sweet rum drink), lay down a towel and enjoy yourself. It's a little bit of a walk from the main area, but well worth it. You can hang here all day and it will be awesome. More like the place where adults come to get away from the kids, have a few drinks and take a dip in the ocean.
5. Hangover cure
Original Antonio's Pizzeria....OMG kill me this place is soooo good. Not only is it just the perfect thing when you feel like your head is going to explode, but it's also awesome when you're still drunk the night before. You get to munch on peanuts while you wait for your pizza and they serve beer and wine so you can either keep it going or chase it.
6. Tourist nerd must do
Brown's Bike Rentals....You gotzta rent some bikes. We are pretty active people, but for some reason we had never done this before until our last trip to Catalina. We rented them for 3 hours and rode all around that mug. Up to the gardens (which is pretty hard actually) and over to Descanso, along the beach and maybe pop a few wheelies. There are also options for renting a boat for an hour, but it's like $50 and the bike riding thing is like $12. Both are fun but I'd do the bikes if you're gonna choose one. And you can work off some of those calories we all like to put on over holiday.
7. Must shop
Lloyds of Avalon....Salt water taffy, caramel apples, peanut brittle, chocolates and more!! Yumm Yum. Every time I go to Catalina, I bring home a bag of goodies for my mommy (and myself). I don't know if you know the history of Catalina Island, but it was purchased by Wrigley's bought the island back in the early 1900's for like $2 million dollars so it's only fitting they have one of the best sweet shops in Cali.
8. Cheap sleeps
Hotel Catalina....not super cheap, but not one of the over-priced nightmares. It has a European feel to it or maybe that's just because the rooms are so small, but still we like it. It's between the main strip of Avalon and Descanso so it fits the bill for us.
9. Splurge sleeps
Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel...Always wanted to stay here, but never did because it's a bit up the hill. Did hear it has amazing views and looks super cute, but again you will probably need to rent a golf cart of have cash for cabs as it's not really walking distance.
10. Favorite thing
I'd probably have to say the day sunbathing at Descanso.
a. If you're going during the summer time, make sure to call ahead to the Catalina Express and reserve your tickets as you can't count on there being seats and how suckie would that be to drive all the way to Long Beach and not get on the boat.
b. If you have some extra money and want to make it really adventurous, fly over in a helicopter instead of taking the boat. I think the heli is like $80 one way per person, but the boat is $65 round trip so it's not thaaattt much more for a real experience. That is if you have the dough.