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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Escape SoCal Sprawl on Catalina Island

Long considered a day-trip destination, this largely undeveloped isle 22 miles from Long Beach has come into its own with a variety of new ecotourism offerings.


1. Where to Stay

The Inn on Mount Ada offers views of Avalon below.  

Walk from the ferry straight to the Pavilion Hotel (from $250), an overhauled mid-century motel that reopened last year, sporting rooms filled with plush beds and French doors that open out onto semi-private lanai sitting areas (ground-floor rooms only). With an address on the main oceanfront strip in Avalon, the island’s only town, it’s the best option if you want to stay within walking distance of restaurants and bars.

Drive a golf cart to town from the Inn on Mount Ada (from $415), a sprawling Georgian colonial mansion that sits on a hill 350 feet above town. The house was built by William Wrigley Jr., who bought most of Catalina in 1919, but today it’s a twelve-room guesthouse with fireplaces, sweeping Pacific-view balconies, and flat-panel TVs and iPod docks. Check online for 20 to 40 percent off rooms that aren’t booked within three days of arrival.

Spend all weekend outdoors by booking a spot at one of five campgrounds spread across the island (from $16). All supplies, including tents, are available for rent (call 310-510-8368), and you can bike, hike, or take the Safari Bus (from $10) to any of the campsites. Wedged between palm groves, grassy hills, and a pristine aquamarine cove, Little Harbor campground is one of the most scenic spots on the island, and offers on-site kayak and snorkel rentals (July and August only; 310-510-2229), plus access to showers and toilets. For a more secluded adventure, book one of seventeen boat-in campsites set on pint-size sandy beaches that can only be reached by kayak or sailboat trip from Avalon.

Published on May 19, 2011 as a web exclusive.

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