Quintessential Summer Vacation – Catalina Island

Photo by Jill Weinlein
(A little over one hour ride to Avalon on the Catalina Express. Photo by Jill Weinlein)

Take a one-hour Catalina Express boat ride to Avalon this summer. Once you arrive, take a short walk, call a taxi or rent a golf cart to the new Descanso Beach Club. It’s located behind the Catalina Casino (not a gambling casino, but a dance pavilion, movie theater and special occasion venue) for a day of sun, kayaking, snorkeling, and good food. The most popular transporatation to get around the city of Avalon one mile wide and one mile long is by golf cart.

(Rent a golf cart while in Avalon. Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Rent a golf cart while in Avalon. Photo by Jill Weinlein)

Descanso Beach Club is also the base to sign up for a Eco-Zip Line adventure. With a harness and helmet you will see the island soaring in the air, just like the crows and seagulls. Take off from five different towers with friendly staff members encouraging your throughout your adventure.

(Spend the Day at the Descanso Beach Club. Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Spend the Day at the Descanso Beach Club. Photo by Jill Weinlein)

Catherine’s Terrace at the Descanso Beach Club serves lunch, brunch and sunset dinners. Enjoy a variety of salads, burgers and sandwiches. There is a full bar offering oceanviews.

IMG_0608Be sure to stop into the Descanso Ice Cream Shop for artisan ice cream made on the premises. There are unique and pleasing flavors, plus two adult flavors that are spiked – Buffalo Milk and Bourbon Pecan. They are delicious!

(Colorful kayaks are available to see another side of Catalina. Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Colorful kayaks are available to see another side of Catalina. Photo by Jill Weinlein)

Rent kayaks at the Descanso Beach Ocean Sports to see some of Catalina’s wildlife. Guests have seen spotted seals, dolphins. bald eagles, octopus and a multitude of the Catalina Garibaldi bright orange fish. If you think the water is too cold, the staff will fit you in a wetsuit for snorkeling.

(Upscale chef-driven cuisine served at Avalon Grille. Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Upscale chef-driven cuisine served at Avalon Grille. Photo by Jill Weinlein)

Take the late boat home and enjoy dinner at the upscale Avalon Grille next to the green pleasure pier. It’s on the corner of Crescent Ave and Front Street, right in the center of town. The restaurant overlooks the Avalon harbor offering patio and indoor seating. This newer restaurant’s a la carte menu with charred octopus and a fabulous warm barley herb salad. Be sure to order the scallops with a Sherry glaze and fresh bass entrée with a wild mushroom risotto.

(Be sure to say "Hi" to Maggie. Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Be sure to say “Hi” to Maggie. Photo by Jill Weinlein)

Nearby is Maggie’s Blue Rose Mexican Fare featuring authentic Mexican food with a flair. It’s right under Steve’s Steakhouse.  The owner Maggie is a real sweetheart. You will find her at the front of the restaurant next to a woman making fresh tortillas. Be sure to order the street corn bathed in fresh lime juice, mayo, chile powder and topped with cotija cheese. Eat it off the cob with plenty of napkins or your server will cut it off the cob tableside for you. The mole braised duck taquitos offer a pleasing sweetness and the crab and corn empanadas are made with dough that is hand stuffed with cheese, fried and topped salsa verde and cilantro crema.

(Best dining views in Avalon at Bluewater Grill. Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Best dining views in Avalon at Bluewater Grill. Photo by Jill Weinlein)

The seafood intensive Bluewater Grill offers unobstructed views of the Avalon Harbor. Sit out on the wooden deck over the water and peek down to see fish in the clear water. There is a full bar, wine list and beers on draft. Creative cocktails are served in Mason jars. The fresh fish just is caught from their own Pilikia boat. It leaves early in the morning and brings back its catch in the early afternoon for chefs to cut and get ready to serve to guests. Finish with a caramel turtle cheesecake, it’s delicious.

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

As you catch your boat back to the Mainland (Long Beach, San Pedro or Dana Point) and notice the lights of Catalina Island twinkle out of sight, you will want to plan a trip back to the Mediterranean-style island.  The relaxed vibe and beauty lures people back year after year.

To see the schedule and make a reservation on the Catalina Express, go to http://www.catalinaexpress.com 

Reservations for the Descanso Beach Club can be made by calling (310)510-7401, Avalon Grille, call (310)510-7494, Maggie Blue Rose Mexican Fare (310)510-3300 and Bluewater Grill (310)510-3474.

To learn more about Catalina, go to http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com

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