Many know of Catalina Island/City of Avalon because it is where the actress Natalie Wood, of West Side Story fame, and wife of actor, Robert Wagner, died in a boating accident off its shores back in 1981. (Cue the conspiracy theorists). But long before this 1980's tragedy, and being just a short 22 mile jaunt off the coast of Los Angeles, for many years it was a retreat for many Old Hollywood notables such as Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz and even a young Marilyn Monroe, who briefly resided on the Island with her first husband, James Dougherty. "Discovered" by Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in 1542, but brought to life by chewing gum magnate, William Wrigley, Jr., in the early 1900's, Catalina Island/City of Avalon, has been a playground for non-celebrities, as well, for well over a century. It was once even the spring training camp for Mr. Wrigley's baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, from 1921-1951.
While I wasn't looking to play baseball, I was definitely looking forward to all that the Island had to offer me on my big day. My cousin Rhonda and I left early from the Port of Long Beach (San Pedro and Dana Point are two other options) and arrived in the City of Avalon a short hour ride later. At just 22 miles long and eight miles wide, this sleepy hamlet really does have a rather extensive list of activities to offer you. While we had the options of renting a golf cart or bicycles to traipse around town, we decided instead, since everything is so very centrally located, to set out on foot to explore the Island. We started off with a free game of Bowling at The Three Palms Avalon Arcade, where my cousin (she being a true food aficianado) had their mini Tacos as a pre-lunch snack. To prematurely walk off what was surely going to be a day of sampling all-things-appetizing, we then headed over to the Beach Club, located at the Island's far end. There they have a full outdoor bar, as well as, zip-lining for the more adventurous, and a little area tucked away for messages in private cabañas, for the more laid-back and risk-averse individuals. Walking back down the boardwalk, we made our way onto the pier for a lunch of Fish & Chips, followed by a free, full-sized scoop of ice cream from Lloyd's Confectionery. With all of the other stops we made throughout the day (mailing postcards from the local Post Office, souvenir shopping, etc.), we ran short on time and were unable to end our day paddle boating, as we had hoped.
If Gilligan's Island was even remotely as charming as Catalina, I can't imagine why he, "...the Professor and Mary Ann" would choose to forgo such a beautifully tranquil paradise for the hustle and bustle of city life. (But, come to think of it, they never were rescued, were they? Umm! Maybe they're still there.) Next trip over, maybe I'll bring a date for her birthday and together we can check out their newly renovated museum, get in a round of golf and go on the glass-bottom boat, as well as, the paddle boats. In essence, 2-for-the-price-of-one.
NOTE: While the round-trip fare on Catalina Express is FREE, Reservations Online (or call 800-481-3470) are still required; the earlier the better. Also, I opted for the Commodore's Cabin upgrade for $15.00, which, for priority boarding, a cookie and a soda, was not worth the additional cost.