Catalina Island is located 26 miles off the coast of Long Beach and it’s a great place for a day trip or a weekend adventure. This guide just includes the island’s attractions but you can always just spend the entire day at the beach if you want to as well.
Start your day by going to the Catalina Express in Long Beach and book the 950 tour there and the 350 tour returning. There are lots of seats on the boats; you can sit inside or outside on one of the two decks. You can choose the top deck because it has the best views on the way over. Going out of the Long Beach Harbor is especially fun because you get to see the lighthouse and the Queen Mary on the way out. Once you hit the open water, the boat starts going fast though and it only takes about an hour to get across to Catalina. The first thing you will note about Catalina is that there are not a lot of cars. Most people use golf carts, the bus, or walk to get around.
If you like history, we highly recommend taking this tour. They offer it twice per day and it lets you go all throughout the casino which is not a casino in a gambling sense but includes the theater and a ballroom. Being able to enter the theater is an amazing experience as they will play a movie for you and let you see the stars that twinkle in the ceiling above. From there, the tour heads to the ballroom which has a 180 foot diameter dance floor and is the largest circular ballroom in the world. Also, you will get to peek out to the balcony and see some amazing views of Catalina before ending the tour. Note that if you stay overnight they usually have a movie playing at nighttime so you can always see a movie to experience the theater as well.
The Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Gardens
This area is named after William Wrigley Jr. of chewing gum and Chicago Cubs Fame as he was one of the people who helped bring tourism to the island in the early 1900s. The garden is over 38 acres and focuses mostly on California plants that are found on the Channel Islands. At the top of the garden, there’s also a memorial for William Wrigley Jr. and it’s definitely a great spot to walk up and check out. As you climb up the memorial, there’s some great views over Catalina but do note that there’s no shade and it gets pretty hot.
Catalina Island Museum
This museum is not for everyone but if you like history definitely check it out as it has some great exhibits on William Wrigley Jr, the Cubs, the island, and some of the famous people that have visited it. If you are into shopping, there are lots of fun shops in the downtown area and there are more eateries and bars you can check out. The best way to end the day is to make a stop at the Scoops. It is a homemade ice cream spot that has both ice cream and gelato.