California travel expert Veronica Hill of http://www.CaliforniaTravelExpert.com tours Catalina Island in this episode of “California Travel Tips.”
The second largest of the Channel Islands, just 22 miles from California’s coast, Catalina makes a great family weekend.
Our kids had a blast on the hour-long ferry from Dana Point to the island, where we spotted sailboats, kayakers, and a pod of frolicking dolphins.
Once you disembark in Avalon Bay, grab a golf cart for a tour around the island, and then take a stroll along Crescent Drive, Catalina’s main boardwalk, and check out the Catalina Casino (Avalon Casino).
Here, kids can enjoy a treat of spun taffy, ice cream or caramel apples at the old-fashioned confectionary Lloyds of Avalon — — or enjoy a few video games and skee ball at the Metropole Marketplace arcade.
A trip to the island isn’t complete without a stroll along the Green Pleasure Pier, where you can grab some fish and chips at Eric’s restaurant and then go for a cruise on the bay.
The Undersea Tour aboard the Starlight and Emerald semi-submersible vessels is a must-see.
During the voyage, you’ll explore the clear waters of Lover’s Cove and a protected kelp forest where you’ll come face to face with bright orange garibaldi, spotted calico bass, and opaleyes — among many other types of marine life. The 45-minute tour is also offered at night.
To explore Catalina’s rugged interior and native wildlife, hop aboard the Classic Inland Motor Tour, which follows the 1800s stagecoach route. In Middle Ranch, you’ll meet Tachi, an endangered Santa Catalina Island Fox who acts as an educational ambassador for her species. You’ll also see a herd of wandering bison, native woodpeckers, and perhaps a bald eagle or two.
At El Rancho Escondido, the Wrigley family’s Hidden Ranch, you can enjoy an Arabian horse demonstration and then spend about 45 minutes walking through the ranch. Pet the horses in their stables, play with a wandering kitty, or watch a short film on the ranch’s history. A small museum displays Bohlin saddles, carriages and family memorabilia.
After your tour, the Golf Gardens are just steps away. Known as one of the world’s most challenging and beautiful miniature golf courses, the lushly landscaped grounds offer 18 holes of family fun.
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