Santa Catalina Island is a close and beautiful bet for short trips. The little strip of land—accessable by ferries from Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point—has all the makings of a well-rounded vacation: Rich history, beach town relaxation and outdoorsy adventure. On one side of the island, Avalon is a walkable, something-for-everyone kind of village where people flit around town in golf carts, shop in beach boutiques and stroll along the boardwalk with ice cream. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, and a fair amount of touristy but worthwhile mainstays (a zip line, a ritzy beach club, Jeep and heli tours—you get the idea). If an outdoorsy, off-the-grid trip is more your style, there are plenty of mountains and beaches to explore while hiking or biking, and lots of wildlife to see. Eighty-eight percent of the island, including 48 miles of coastline, is protected land and there’s a good chance you’ll see bison, bald eagles, foxes, dolphins and whales here. For a less touristy destination—almost the opposite of Avalon, and great for campers and backpackers—check out Two Harbors (the ferries stop there, too). It’s a one-horse (or restaurant, or general store, or hotel) kind of town where kayaks and camping sites probably outnumber the permanent residents.
Take a Santa Catalina Island safari adventure and see bison, bald eagles, and more.
Discover the best things to do in Catalina