[DAY TRIP]

Avalon Redo Adds Activities and Places to Dine

The makeover includes a new spa and a renovated beach club

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.

Stay

There are several AAA Diamond-rated lodgings in Avalon (call for the latest rates). Among them:

  • Aurora Hotel, 137 Marilla Avenue; 310-510-0454; auroracatalina.com.
  • Hotel Vista del Mar, 417 Crescent Avenue; 310-510-1452; hotel-vistadelmar.com.
  • Hotel Catalina’s Courtyard Garden Suites, 129 Whittley Avenue; 800-540-0184, hotelcatalina.com.
  • Hotel Mac Rae, 409 Crescent Avenue; 310-510-0246 or 800-698-2266; hotelmacrae.com.
  • Hotel St. Lauren, 231 Beacon Street Avalon; 310-510-2299; stlauren.com.
  • Portofino Hotel, 111 Crescent Avenue; 310-510-0555; portofinohotel.net.

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).

Catalina beach scene
Enjoying sand and sunshine on Crescent Beach,  the main beach in Avalon. 

Eat

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:

  • Coyote Joe’s, 113 Catalina Avenue; 310-510-1176; coyotejoesrestaurant.com.
  • El Galleon, 411 Crescent Avenue; 310-510-1188; bit.ly/2Cfg5sP.
  • Mi Casita, 111 Clarissa Avenue; 310-510-1772; bit.ly/2BphMXQ.
  • Original Jack’s Country Kitchen, 118 Catalina Avenue; 310-510-1308; bit.ly/2soeWzr.
  • Steve’s Steakhouse and Seafood, 417 Crescent Avenue; 310-510-0333; stevessteakhouseandseafood.com.

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.

Catalina Zip Line
Getting ready for a ride on the Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour.

Do

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.