pon arriving on Catalina Island, the first area of the island visitors will come in contact with is the town of Avalon. Avalon lines the perimeter of Avalon Bay which is the biggest inland cove of water off the ocean of the many coves around the island. Avalon is full of quaint shops, charming drives, walkways and restaurants. Immediately behind Avalon the land rises up sharply into mountain ranges where dozens of private homes, hotels and resorts perch off its side giving visitors and residents 180 views of the harbor, Avalon and the Pacific beyond.
On weekends and busy summer months, Avalon is alive with the whizzing of golf carts, crowds on foot and people enjoying the views of the ocean from the Green Pleasure Pier and various dining and bar locations scattered throughout the town. Avalon is very small and can be easily transversed by foot from one end to the other in less than 15 minutes. Rising up behind Avalon are the mountains that make the Catalina Interior. Various trails snake off of the main streets of Avalon and snake into the interior affording visitors the opportunity to hike, camp and relax.
Arriving in Avalon-Two options to explore
The main town center in Avalon is full of souvenir shops, bars and restaurants. The walkway that lines edge of the bay is Crescent Drive.Crescent winds itself all the way to the Catalina Heliport and is also passes through the area where the main boat landing hosting theCatalina Express is located. The majority of visitors arriving in Catalina via the Catalina Express will arrive on a section of docs attached to a pier called the Cabrillo Mole. From here a little lane running north called Crescent Avenue takes visitors on an easy 5 minute walk along into the main town center. Those visitors not wishing to walk north along Crescent Avenue but south away from the Cabrillo Mole will find themselves on Pebbly Beach Road. Pebbly Beach Road leads into Lover's Cove, a main snorkeling point as well as into the heliport, the Buffalo Nickle (a popular restaurant) and the island's only gas station. It is from Pebbly Beach Road visitors can hike up to Mr. Ada, once the home of the William Wrigley and his wife Ada, now a small hotel resort overlooking all of Avalon and Catalina Island.
Crescent Ave/Avalon Town Center
On the left hand side of Crescent asvisitors make their way from the boat to the town center are several bicycle and golf car renting facilities. The first vendors visitorswill see renting golf carts go for $40 an hour, The second area of golf carts visitors will see offer carts at $60. As Crescent makes asharp turn north, the right hand side of the drive is the beaches, harbor and Green Pleasure Pier. On the left hand side are a line of retail offering a variety of dining including a waffle and pancake shop, several bars, Mexican food, hamburgers, a drugstore and a few souvenir shops The Souvenir shops offer t shirts, coffee mugs, post cards, exotic glass wares and chocolate, fudge and toffee with the
Catalina Island Candy company logo embroidered on them
As cars are restricted on Catalina Island (there is a ten year waitingist) the primary mode of transportation are bicycles and golf carts.Everywhere visitors go along the streets of Catalina are a constant stream of golf carts. Most of them are white but a few are red, blueand green. Some hold as many as 8 passengers but the majority are 4and 2 seaters.
Sumner Street/Drive Sumner is a major shopping thoroughfare that runs in an east west direction. Sumner begins at Crescent and extends all the way back to the Catalina Country Club where it splits and either turns into Country Club Row or extends a mile into the interior up to the
Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden.
In the area between Crescent and Beacon is the main shopping area. It is on the south side of Sumner that the Tour Plaza is located It is here visitors can get information and purchase tickets regarding a variety of trips throughout Catalina Island. These include the following, the Boat tours (undersea tours, Glass bottom boat, Seal Rocks Cruise, FlyingFish Tour and Sundown Isthmus). bus tours of the island that include tram tour of Avalon, Skyline Drive , Inland Motor Tour and Cape Canyon
Tour. The Tour Plaza is a complete plaza with a miniature golf course, well kept/clean rest rooms and an out door eating area. There are also a variety of dining opportunities along Sumner that include Chinese and Seafood. The tour plaza connects Sumner Drive with Catalina Drive. Off of Sumner drive is the court house of Catalina Island.
Dining in Avalon
There are a variety of Mexican and seafood restaurants, bed and breakfasts a few bars that line Catalina Ave. During peak season and warm days Catalina Ave is a hustle bustle with people coming in and out of the pubs, and the many visitors coming to and from their tour destinations. The restaurants on Catalina Ave tend to be a little more expensive when compared to those that are on the Green Pleasure Pier or in the Tour Plaza. The dining options on the Green Pleasure Pier include hotdog and hamburger stands as well as a fish and chips kiosk. On Crescent Avenue near Clarissa are a variety of family style restaurants that specialize in Pancakes, waffles, hamburgers and sandwiches. Up and down Catalina Ave are additional seafood options as well as several bars. Some of the newer restaurants on Catalina Ave include the Lobster Trap who's menu include the usual seafood fair from salmon, to fried shrimp to clam chowder soups. Next to the Lobster Trap is the Marlin Club. Originally built in 1946, the bar was restored in 1991. Only steps from the Green Pleasure Pier, the Marlin club especially comes alive in the summer time as people poor in from the docks to enjoy a drink.
Sumner Ave includes the island's Chinese restaurant called Mr. Nings that is across from the tour plaza and can't be missed with its bright red door. The Tour Plaza is home to Pete's Cafe that includes a variety of fast but good foods including nachos, burgers and sandwiches.
One of the more popular dining spots on Catalina Island is on Crescent Ave adjacent to the harbor. There visitors will find additional choices in restaurants including Big Olaffs. Big Olaffs serves ice cream and has been a Catalina/Avalon staple for years, serving both the visitors and locals. The store offers a variety of ice cream flavors with a choice of cake or waffle cones.
Shopping in Avalon
Shopping Avalon is an interesting experience. The majority of goodsoffered are apparel. These items include bathing suites, sweatshirts,sweat pants and T-shirts. Many of these items have the words "Catalina Island " on them and or pictures of Avalon bay and the Catalina Casino. The next popular items for shopping in Avalon are glass war including a variety of wine glasses, beverage glasses, and colored glass pains. There are several stores that offer a variety of jewelryincluding beaded necklaces, silver bracelets, ear rings, rings and more. An additional category worth mentioning is art. There are several vendors on all the drives of Catalina that offer a variety of art, many of it depicting Native Indian culture from Catalina's early days. There is also art depicting Catalina during the Wrigley years
and up to modern day. Aside from Crescent the three main streets tofind shopping are Claressa, Catalina and Sumner.
The Catalina Casino is the most prominent structure in all of Avalon. Built on a tiny peninsula called the Sugar Loaf Point that juts out into Avalon Harbor, the Catalina Casino was originally built in 1928 by William Wrigley to stimulate tourism. The structure took over fourteen months by 800 men at a cost of $2 million to complete. The Catalina Casino is twelve stories tall and is home to a museum, ballroom, a movie theater and art deco designs. The Catalina Casino was never a casino but was named that for casino in Italian means a place to gather or socialize. The Catalina Casino stands between Avalon and Descanso Beach and easily reachable by following Casino Way from Crescent Ave. The walking path just below the golf cart/car lane is full of art on an adobe wall depicting the history of Catalina Island. There are daily tours of the casino that allow visitors to interact with the architecture, art and history of building, as well as an opportunity to get up close and personal to get amazing photographs of this historic and iconic structure.
Descano Beach is a 5 minute walk north of the Catalina Casino. The Descano Cove is home to the Descano Beach Club. The beach is quaint and feels like a secluded location in the Caribbean. The beachincludes opportunities to snorkel and kayak, or do as many visitorsdo, just layout. In the summer there is a full bar where visitors cantake advantage of cocktails and the beach. Getting to Descano Cove iseasy as there is a walk way that leads from the Catalina Casino intothe Cove. The water is crystal clear along the edges and gives way tobeautiful views of the Orange Tripolitan pecking at the shore. In the summer time when the private bars and cabanas open along the beach visitors will feel like they are on a private resort. Although Descano Cove is right around the corner from the main commercial area of Avalon, it will feel like miles away it can be that secluded.