Catalina Island Attractions
We get asked the same question almost every day – “What are your favorite Catalina Island attractions?” The funny thing is – the answer is almost always different depending on the person asking. Simply put, there are a ton of things to do on Catalina Island, but there are a few Catalina Island attractions everyone should try and see.
Catalina Casino, Green Pleasure Pier, Holly House, Downtown
Featured in the picture above are a few attractions you will want to learn about, starting with the Catalina Casino. Sorry gamblers – it’s not that kind of casino, you will have to blow your social security checks in Vegas! The Casino is the first thing you see when arriving at the island, and it literally dominated the entrance to the harbor, especially at night. Built in the 1920′s, and later restored, the Casino is in fact part ballroom, and part theater. The Art Deco interior and Hand painted fresco’s are well worth a visit. More about the Catalina Island Casino →. The long pier in the center of the image is the famous Green Pleasure Pier. On the pier you can fish, rent boats, diving equipment, and snorkeling equipment, as well as enjoy a refreshing ice cream and more.. It’s a great place to see the bright orange Garibaldi that hang out around the pilings waiting for food. There is also a huge black sea bass that likes to hang out and get fed by the locals. Back to the image above – on the bottom right you will see the historic Holly House. Built by Peter Gano in 1889, it is a beautiful example of Queen Anne architecture, and is Catalina’s most famous residence. You can also see Avalon’s main drag lit up in the center-left of the picture, and at night, it’s the place to be. Pubs, restaurants, and live music make for a lively nightlife.
History buffs should visit the Catalina Island Museum, which explores 7,000 years of island history including fascinating exhibits of archaeology, steamships, big bands, and natural history. Call 310 510 2414 or visit www.catalinamuseum.org for more information.
Wrigley Mansion – The Inn on Mt. Ada
In addition to the Casino, William Wrigley also built a mansion for his wife on Mt. Ada (her first name), which has since become a six room B&B named “The Inn On Mt. Ada”. The location, perched 350ft above the town of Avalon, was chosen by Wrigley because it received sun at first light, and the last rays at sundown. Call 800 608 7669 or 310 510 2030 or visit www.innonmtada.com for more information.
Wrigley Memorial Botanical Gardens
The Wrigley Memorial Gardens are located high up on the hillside about 1.5 miles from the main strip in Avalon, and is well worth a visit. The idea for a botanical gardens came from Mr. Wrigley’s wife, Ada. In 1935, she supervised Pasadena horticulturalist Albert Conrad, who planted the original Desert Plant Collection. The Wrigley Memorial itself is the centerpiece of the gardens, and offers a panoramic view of the island. On a clear day, you get breathtaking views of the southern California coastline. Getting there is possible either by foot, bicycle, golf cart or trolley (check the trolley schedule). It’s open daily from 8am to 5pm; admission is $5 for adults and free for children under 12. Call 310 510 2595 for more information.
Catalina Bison Herd
Don’t miss Catalina’s wild bison herd! Did you know that a herd of wild bison roam Catalina Island? We would be remiss not to include the bison as one of Catalina’s favorite attractions. Originally imported to the island in 1924 for the silent movie The Vanishing American, the Catalina Island Conservancy now maintains a herd of about 150 bison on the island. Inland tours to see the bison are available every day and it’s well worth the trip.
Catalina Under the Sea!
You simply can’t list Catalina Island attractions and not mention the elephant in the room. I’m talking about everything under the surface in the nearshore waters surrounding the island. Catalina is home to a colorful array of fish, mammals, and plant life. Snorkeling or diving is one of the best ways to see the natural beauty of the island, and also see any of the numerous ship wrecks.
You can explore Catalina’s undersea world by snorkeling, diving, snuba, semi-submersible submarine, glass-bottom boat, glass bottom kayak, or with Discovery Tours undersea helmets made famous on the hit show “The Bachelor”.