California getaways#1: Catalina Island

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Welcome to Catalina Island, just about an hours boat ride from the mainland off the coast of Southern California.  It is almost all in the hands of the Catalina Island Conservancy, thanks to the Wrigley Family Trust and will never be developed.  It really looks much the same as it has for the last 50 years.  The idea of Catalina as a resort destination really took hold in the late 1880's.  A lot could be purchased for $500 dollars.
This is Avalon Bay as you arrive by boat into the main Harbor.  No need for a car over here,  you can walk everywhere or rent a golf cart and do a scenic tour of almost all of Avalon.
Lets start with a walking tour of some of the most beautiful vintage tile work anywhere.  This is the entrance to the historic Hotel Atwater which opened on July 1, 1920.
Sprinkled throughout the island are tile plaques featuring birds and fish.  This is a fountain in the central plaza area.  The colors are really amazing.

I love the marlin plaque and the striking black on the front of this building.  It almost looks like a quilt.
T-shirt and tourist stuff every where you turn. There are also some great little bars and restaurants all along the main walkway of Crescent Ave. Try Anthony's or Steve's for seafood.
More historical tiles on the fountain walls
Incredible new tile work done on the Via Casino walk way by RTK Studios in Ojai, California

This building on the main walk way was once the Security-First National Bank, built in 1930.

The famous Tuna club and fish sculpture.  The Tuna club was built in 1924.  It looks pretty much the same and is still in operation.
The Holly Hill house is the oldest structure on the island with its interesting circular roof structure.  It was built in 1888 by Peter Gano the engineer who built Catalina's first fresh water system.  Mr. Gano was aided in the construction by his horse Mercury, who helped pull ropes to bring the lumber and construction materials up the hill.  True story!
Via Casino walkway arch.  It has newer decorative tiles to replace those lost in a destructive storm in 1988.
The weather on Catalina is always a little cooler in the summer and a little warmer in the winter than on the mainland.  It also tends to be less foggy during the months of May and June.

The Green Pleasure Pier located in the center of Avalon Bay can't be missed.  It was the official weigh station for sport fishing through out Catalina's history.  There are info booths and tour guides all along the pier.  Have at drink at Eric's and try the fish and chips at the end of the pier
The Harbor entrance is where all boats coming from the mainland must check in at.  If you want a mooring for the weekend the Harbor Patrol will guide you through that process or if you are coming over on the Catalina Express from Newport or Long Beach this is where you will get off.
Avalon harbor has a very Mediterranean look to it.  It really could be any where in Europe with the colorful houses and rocky shore line.  Almost every weekend the moorings fill up with boaters from all over Southern California.  If you don't have your own dingy to get ashore you can get a ride from the shoreboat for about 5 bucks.
This is the famous Casino built by William Wrigley Jr. (think gum) in 1928.  It is an amazing structure even today and you can see a movie on the inside or just walk the perimeter and check out the murals and vintage tiles around the sight.  Descanco beach is just west of the casino and is a great spot to rent a kayak or have a picnic.  The water is clear to at least 30 feet down. Its a bit like your looking into a fish bowl.  Look for the bright orange Garabaldi fish.

Hope you enjoyed this quick tour.  For more information go to the Chamber of Commerce web sight at  Oh and guess what?  The Flying Fish Festival is just around the corner during the month of May. Now who could resist that!  ~*~kelley
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