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Old 05-04-2011, 10:00 PM   #16
endy
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Thanks for the links and all the pictures. Love all the poses.

I have enough airmiles for the flights now to check that flight times will line up for the Express and that motels are available. So we'd arrive on July 2nd, stay 3 full days and head to Anaheim area on the 6th til the 9th or 10th.

I'm so excited. I watched the videos of all the tours and want to do them all except the zipline (ds can do it).

There's a company that picks you up at the airport and takes you to the Express and back to airport. Then I'll rent a car for Anaheim so we can go to Long Beach Aquarium, ds wants to eat at Bubba Gumps, a day for shopping at the hockey stores. So much to do so little time.

Actually we're driving down to SD in Aug for 2 weeks and spend most of those days at SeaWorld. See the fish connection everywhere? DS & me too are fish fanatics and most of what we do revolves around fish of all sizes. We did the whale watching twice last summer, it was amazing too.

I think a superthread is a great idea.

What about eating? I haven't checked any of that. Are there some cheaper, not fancy places to eat? I'd rather spend money on tours than food.

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Old 05-04-2011, 11:04 PM   #17
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Yay! Sounds like a good plan! I will be anxious to hear where you end up for a hotel/motel.

Since you and your son are fish fanatics, I think this Catalina trip is meant to be! You obviously have got to do the Flying Fish tour while you're in Avalon. Probably the Semi-Submersible too. And when you are heading over to the Island on the Express, make sure you sit outside (usually the outside seating is on the upper deck) so you can scout for dolphins and other sea life.

The Long Beach Aquarium is very close to where the Express in Long Beach is. You should enjoy the Aquarium.

Be sure that you end up at the right Long Beach location for the Express. If you read PrincessInOz's report, she ended up at the Queen Mary first - which was totally my fault, because the last time I was in Catalina, the Express boats were still departing from the Queen Mary and I instructed her to go there. I didn't realize they had changed things! Now they have turned the Queen Mary location of Catalina Express into departures for campers and large groups. The Downtown Long Beach landing - which is not far from the Queen Mary - is where you want to go! That's the dock for the general public.

As soon as you register with Catalina Express for the free birthday boat ride, they will e-mail you the voucher for it within minutes. I've already got mine and I'm not going until July 21. Then I would recommend making your Express boat reservations right away - since the time frame you are going is over 4th of July weekend, it's entirely possible many of the Express boat times may book up early.

In fact, not only should you book your hotel early and your Express boat early, you may even want to book a couple of the tours you want to do early. Even though you can generally just go up to the ticket windows when you get to the Island and book the tours, again, since it will be 4th of July weekend you may want to secure your spots in advance.

Don't forget to check in advance to be sure your son will be able to do the zipline and that they don't have an age limit - I know there are two different ziplines. One of them is like the 'advanced' one for the bigger thrill seekers, and one of them is more for the timid folks! I am hoping he can at least do the one for timid folks, but check to be sure.

Now...as for food...welll, this is where I hope I can get PrincessInOz and pixarmom to come over to this thread to add their two cents on the food and other things, as they have been to Avalon more recently than I have.

Assuming the food has not gone tremendously downhill, there are quite a few places you can eat that are good. Most of the places are casual - this is very much a beachy, shorts and t-shirt kind of town. Even the steakhouse (Steve's) probably hosts mostly shorts-clad guests!

Let's see...if you like seafood (which I do not), Armstrong's is supposed to be very good. Also, the green pier that you can see in my pictures has a walk-up counter service place that supposedly has very good fish and chips and other seafood and finger foods.

Unless it has moved or been renamed, there is a good (and usually busy) walk-up place called Coney Island West. It doesn't look like much of anything, but if your son likes burgers/chili burgers, hot dogs and shakes and that kind of thing, this is a good place to get them. I had a really good chili burger there once.

In Avalon, you will find two restaurants called Antonio's. One of them is a tiny hole in the wall on a side street, and the larger version of Antonio's is right next to where Armstrong's is, along the water. I like the one next to Armstrong's best because you can ask for a waterside table and then....look for bright orange Garibaldi fish in the water below!! (See? It all goes back to the fish!!)

Antonio's (the one by the water) has a pretty good variety of food, including all kinds of Italian things. They have pretty good pizza. They have pretty good garlic bread. They have all kinds of things.

There is a restaurant called The Cottage. It used to be called The Pancake Cottage and was an excellent place to get delicious pancakes or other breakfast items, but somewhere since I was last there they changed it to The Cottage. I think they still serve breakfast, but it sounds like they must have branched out into other meals too!

Keep in mind that when you are walking along the main street (Crescent) in the tiny town of Avalon, you will see certain restaurants right there along the sidewalk. Don't hesitate to turn down some of the side streets - which I think a lot of folks forget to do. I know there other places to eat along some of the side streets.

There are all kinds of other restaurants too - and 99% of them are casual, even if they are sit down places. At Antonio's you can crush peanut shells into the floor and decorate beaten up $1 bills to be plastered later to the wall or ceiling! Not exactly fine dining!




One side note/anecdote about one of my trips to Catalina....back in 2001, Nicolas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley were together. We saw them walking through Avalon at night, and then they disappeared into the darkness. It was an interesting site because he is so tall and she is much shorter than I expected. I think they had a bodyguard with them, although Avalon is not the sort of place where people pay much attention to celebrities.

Anyway, I think this trip in which we saw Nicolas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley took place over either Memorial Day weekend or Labor Day weekend (it was before September 11th - that much I know).

A few days later I was reading in US magazine an article about what celebrities had done for the holiday weekend, and there was a distant photo of Lisa Marie and Nicolas on a boat in the Avalon harbor. I guess they were staying on a boat and had come into town to eat or whatever when we saw them...and it turned out that I guess they had a big fight on the boat and Lisa Marie's ring (either the engagement ring or the wedding ring) ended up in the ocean, never to be found.

So somewhere in the waters of Catalina, Lisa Marie's ring from Nicolas Cage found its final resting place. But when we saw them walking through town, they didn't necessarily look unhappy. They didn't really look happy, either. But they didn't appear to be having a huge fight.

And also, as you may or may not know - the waters off of Catalina (specially, Two Harbors, which is on the other side of the Island) are where actress Natalie Wood died on that fateful night when she was on a boat with Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken. She had her last public meal with the two men at Doug's Harbor Reef restaurant in Two Harbors.

They all got drunk, headed back to their boat which was docked in the harbor...and Natalie fell overboard (or whatever happened to her), to her death. Apparently, Natalie was not a swimmer and she was terribly afraid of water, especially in the dark of night when the water is practically black. She didn't mind being on water, in a boat, or near water, on a beach, but she did not swim so she did not like to be IN water. So you can imagine how horrible it was to die in the way she feared most, I suppose.
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Old 05-06-2011, 06:17 AM   #18
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WOW! A whole new thread towards Catalina Island. Looks great in here!

Sherry - Thanks for referencing my TR. That was the first ever TR I wrote and I was clearly very cautious about sharing too much information at the start (something that I'm clearly not a shrinking violet about anymore!).


Here are a few more pictures that I didn’t originally post because I wasn’t sure about how much to include and I had originally thought not to post any with us in them.

We ended up trying to head to the Queen Mary terminal to pick up the ferry but it was closed. When we got to the Long Beach downtown terminal, the standard seats had all been sold. So, we ended up buying the Captains Lounge seats in order to make it over on the first ferry.

This is what it looks like inside the lounge. Seats were comfy – and it was WARM!






We followed Sherry’s advice and hired the golf buggy from this place. I’m pretty sure it was called Michael’s. As you get down from the ferry, it is on the opposite side of the street.




We followed the map provided by the golf buggy shop and headed towards Wrigley Gardens.




That’s the monument from near the entry looking up.




I love looking at plants; particularly if they are indigenous to the environment. The Information Desk at the gardens provided a pamphlet and we ended up hunting out the natives.










The self-guided route on the buggy was a great way to see the attractions near Avalon. The views were spectacular.








I’m pretty sure that the platform in this picture is part of the Zipline activity on the island. If the “WooHoos” were anything to go by, it would appear to be worth the time and money for this activity.




We also headed towards the casino as part of the buggy tour...but the casino was under renovation and I didn't take any photos whilst we were walking around.


We went for lunch after the buggy tour.




..and snagged ourselves a seat out on the deck.





The trellis marks the boundary between Amstrongs and the restaurant next door, which is Antonio's.


That’s the view looking the other way, with the casino in the background.




Be warned…on a sunny day, the sun gets real strong and hot; so lather up if you don’t want to get burnt.

Our visit to Catalina was the start of our holiday and I hadn’t yet trained either DS or DH to wait for me to take food porn before they inhaled the food in.

This was DS’ kids meal. He opted for the vegetables, instead of chips/fries…




…okay….maybe.we.had.something.to.do.with.his.decis ion.

I had the proper adult fish and chips/fries meal. I thought it was pretty good.




DH opted for the fish tacos. It was the clear winner of the 3 meals.




We went on the semi-sub after lunch.



Nearly everyone gets a window seat.



They do try to sell the ‘fact’ that you need to buy fish pellets to attract the fish to your window. I don’t recall what they said but DH got hooked in and he paid for the fish pellets. DS loved it…but you don’t really need to buy fish pellets. The fish as so well trained that they come swimming along at the sight of the underwater yellow peril.

[I have posted pictures of the fish in my TR…and I’m trying not to duplicate too many pictures (Sherry, let me know if you want me to post the pictures in here for completeness sake).]

The boys decided to hire one of those paddle boats …. And as it only fitted two people, I decided to spend the afternoon looking at the shops in Avalon. Really – I think it took me all of 20 minutes! I would have been better off going with the boys!

But I ended up in one of the shops right at one end of Avalon (nearer where the ferry dock was) and had this for afternoon tea.




And no, that's NOT a small chocolate brownie...it's an overly LARGE mug of tea!

With one day to spend at Avalon and this was before the flying fish came…well…flying back into the waters, there wasn’t much else for us to do. So, we caught the ferry back, well satisfied with the day's activities and our first ever visit to Catalina.


Next time, we will definitely spend at least 2 nights on the island, bring more $$$, book ourselves in for an inland safari and do that zipline so that it is our “woohoo’s” that fill the air!


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Old 05-06-2011, 12:16 PM   #19
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Hello Catalina fans! Sherry - great thread and thanks for the PM! PrincessinOz, love the photos!

I've been going to Catalina since childhood, through my teen years, during college, as a newlywed and as a parent of one, two and now three boys! So I'm happy to share my Catalina experiences and try to answer some questions.

Just a few thoughts to start:

1) Catalina Express vs. Catalina Flyer.

I've taken both the Catalina Flyer from Newport Beach and the Catalina Express from Long Beach. OK - you can't beat the "free on your birthday" deal on the Express, but the Flyer is my absolute favorite. It leaves from the Balboa Fun Zone and everyone lines up in the early morning along the side of the boat. It leaves the Newport Harbor once each day and the view of the peninsula from the boat is amazing. We grab donuts at the place around the corner from the ticket window and eat them while we stand in line to board. Just love the Flyer. Here's the site: http://www.catalinainfo.com/index.html

On the other hand, the Flyer only has one trip to Catalina and one trip back each day. And parking can be difficult if you aren't staying in Newport (but we always do!)

The Catalina Flyer Schedule
Departs Newport Beach 9:00 am
Arrives Catalina Island 10:15 am
Departs Catalina Island 4:30 pm
Arrives Newport Beach 5:45 pm
The Catalina Flyer Departs From
The Balboa Pavilion

2) Activities

Lots of things to do! With little ones, we've done the glass bottom boat tour and the short city tour. For little kids, it's also fun to claim some beach space and swim - not as great for older kids. Our kids also liked the playground near the basketball courts. With older kids or adults, we like the golf cart rental that Sherry mentioned, snorkeling at Lover's Cove, kayaking at Descanso Beach, the casino tour and paddle boats from the rental place near the Catalina Express/Flyer dock. We've only done short kayaking trips, but I'd love to do a longer one (as soon as our pre-schooler is older!) My mom and brother went horseback riding on Catalina and that was an adventure!

3) Hotels

We always stay at the Metropole. I keep thinking about branching out, but it doesn't happen. http://www.hotel-metropole.com/

4) Food

I'll second the recommendation for Antonio's - we like it better than Armstrong's (next door with equally great views.) I also like the Blue Parrot. But our favorite spot is Luau Larry's. I've loved it forever and our kids love it. If you arrive early for lunch, you just might get that booth in the front with a view of the water. It's pretty much bar food, but it's tropical and fun. We usually go for lunch with the kids. For adults, any time works!

Happy Catalina Planning!!
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Old 05-06-2011, 02:25 PM   #20
Sherry E
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Oh wow!

PrincessInOz and pixarmom - Thank you both soooo much for jumping in here so quickly and offering your wonderful photos and thoughts! I'm sure there are other DIS'ers who have been to Catalina fairly recently (or more recently than I have) but you two were the ones that sprang to mind immediately - along with PHXscuba, who I knew had been there at some point!

As I told you ladies in the PM, I will probably start a Catalina Superthread at some point in the near future, along the lines of the Halloween at DLR Superthread and the Disneyland at Christmas Superthread, but as PHXscuba suggested, I'lll prbably do it after I get back from Catalina (so, sometimes later in the summer) and actually have some new photos to contribute. Also, I will have to assemble the basic, helpful information for new visitors. When that gets going, I would love for everyone in this thread to join the Superthread and share their experiences and photos!

(Wendy - I don't know if you are still out there, but I sent a PM to PrincessInOz and pixarmom to ask them to join us in this thread and share their experiences in Avalon since they have both been there more recently than I have, and they can give a more recent account of food choices and things like that!)

I don't know if anyone else out there was inspired by reading pixarmom's suggestions and seeing PrincessInOz's great photos, but I certainly was!!! I was thinking, "Wow! I can't wait to get back to the Island! I miss it so much!"

PrincessInOz - it was interesting to me even just looking at the photo you took of the golf cart rental place. That's the one that is very close to the boat dock, and you encounter it right as you start heading into town, correct? It's weird for me to see that because, on the one hand it looks very familiar. On the other hand, I can see that some changes have been made to the overall structure - and even the stucture right next to it - since I was last there. It has been spruced up a little bit. In fact, I don't even think it had a specific name (like Michael's) when I was last there! It was always just referred to as "the golf cart place near where the boats come in."

And then I was especially interested in looking at the Wrigley Memorial photos. That was one of those places where sometimes we'd rent a golf cart and go in and look around, and sometimes we would rent a golf cart and pass by Wrigley and never go in at all. We could take it or leave it. I actually think I would appreciate the Wrigley Memorial much more today because I am more interested in plants and flowers and things now that I am older. I always thought the tile up at the top of the hill where the Memorial is was beautiful, and the scenery is beautiful from the top of the Mmemorial.

But one thing that my friends and I always noticed was that it felt extremely hot in that garden! That's a good place to wear a hat, as the sun beats down very strongly (which is probably why the cactus and other plants thrive).

As for the Semi-Sub, I didn't buy any pellets and I noticed the same thing you noticed. There was no shortage of fish coming up to the windows. I actually think the crew guys drop some pellets in the water to attract fish, too.

As for shopping - that's another area (much like restaurants) where it pays to do down some of the side streets or off the main street. There are the expected shops that sell seashells and beachy knick knacks. One tradition I developed was getting a new sea-themed pewter picture frame on every trip.

But there are also shops that sell interesting artwork (including small, framed prints and posters) - such as the Perico Gallery in the Metropole Marketplace and the museum gift shop in the Casino building. Also, there used to be a shop - not sure if it is still there - called the Steamer Trunk or something like that. It was on a side street and it sold some interesting things. I've gotten some good stuff in Catalina by the Sea (another shop) and in the book store (some interesting Catalina books). There was also a cute shop that was in the Solomon's Landing building, I think. It sold all kinds of retro stuff.

I wonder if the place where you found the tea and brownie was C.C. Gallagher? They sell things like that.

Yes, by all means - post whatever photos you have!


pixarmom - is the Blue Parrot still in Avalon? For some reason I thought I recalled reading that it was gone.

Several restarants that I used to enjoy in Avalon have vanished - like the Channel House and Cafe Prego. I know I was disappointed to read that the Busy Bee Cafe was gone. The Busy Bee had the best setting, because it was all outdoor seating. On one side you could get great people watching over the town of Avalon, and on the other side of the seating area you could end up next to the water, scouting for sea life. I heard that the service went downhill when the management changed, and eventually it just closed.

I love the pedal/paddle boats - that is a good, inexpensive way to spend an hour, and it is very relaxing being on the water! One of my friends and I practically lived on those boats back in the '90s! Oh, the sunburns we got - but it was so fun! And it's a great activity for any age.

You mentioned that your mom and brother went horseback riding and it was an adventure. It was an "adventure" when we went horseback riding in Avalon, as well!

Well, let me clarify - it was a miracle that my clumsy, awkward self and my very short friend were able to get up on our horses at all!

The ranch hand purposely did not give us the horses with names like "Thunderbolt" or "Diablo." No. We got the horses with names like "Blossom" and "Sunflower" or similar things! I think they could see that we were not very "adventurous" when it came to horses. I was thrilled that I managed to even get up on one and not get thrown off, and then I managed to get down from the horse with some help. I got a few photos of myself to prove that I was on the horse and that was all I needed!
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Old 05-06-2011, 04:27 PM   #21
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Yep I'm still hanging around & will be for months.

I'm going to (hopefully) get everything booked tonight and tomorrow.
Planning on staying 4 nights on the island since we won't arrive until late afternoon I figured 3 full days should give us time for almost everything. Should I stay a 4th day? I don't want ds to be whining about being bored tho I don't think he would.

Sherry it was so sweet of you to contact PrincessInOz and pixarmom for their input. I sure hope all the pictures and posts entice others to want to visit.

I'll have to figure out how to post pictures when we get back. I didn't know about the gardens before, that's right up my alley. I will have to bribe my ds for that.

Pedal boats - I hadn't read about that either - another thing to do and something I'd be more comfortable in rather than a kayak.

This all sounds so exciting. I'm used to loading up the SUV and driving away. Not having to plan a flight, a shuttle, a ferry, a new place all the same day. I can already see me wanting to go there each summer instead of San Diego.

I've already started a list of things I usually forget like sunscreen and hats.
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Old 05-06-2011, 06:33 PM   #22
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Hello again!

Blue Parrot - good question - I don't know but it sounds right because I couldn't find a link when I tried to locate it. If it's not there, I wonder if another restaurant has replaced it. It's right at the front of the Metropole Marketplace. Sad to see it go - but as long as Luau Larry's is still on the island, I'm good! And I remember the Busy Bee so well - loved it!

As for the horses, my mom and brother said they were never so scared - constantly wondering what would prevent the horses from jumping off the cliff! So I know they can relate. This was when I was an older teen and my dad and I knew that we didn't want anything to do with that - we sat ourselves down on the beach!

Great idea to start a superthread! I was thinking about doing that for Newport Beach someday. Every time I see a beach thread, I really want to jump in but I don't always have the time to repeat all the reasons Newport is the best beach in the world. (OK - one of those reasons is a nearly 50-year family history, but I never promised to be entirely objective!)

Newport/Catalina have some competition in the coming years - we're trying a cruise (Disney Dream) this August instead. And we may end up on the Disney Alaskan cruise in August 2012. Need to figure out how to get back in the middle of all that - our oldest son said it's been way too long since he ate a frozen banana on Balboa Island (and that was only seven months ago!) So everyone please keep those Catalina photos coming!
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Old 05-06-2011, 09:53 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by endy View Post
Yep I'm still hanging around & will be for months.

I'm going to (hopefully) get everything booked tonight and tomorrow.
Planning on staying 4 nights on the island since we won't arrive until late afternoon I figured 3 full days should give us time for almost everything. Should I stay a 4th day? I don't want ds to be whining about being bored tho I don't think he would.

Sherry it was so sweet of you to contact PrincessInOz and pixarmom for their input. I sure hope all the pictures and posts entice others to want to visit.

I'll have to figure out how to post pictures when we get back. I didn't know about the gardens before, that's right up my alley. I will have to bribe my ds for that.

Pedal boats - I hadn't read about that either - another thing to do and something I'd be more comfortable in rather than a kayak.

This all sounds so exciting. I'm used to loading up the SUV and driving away. Not having to plan a flight, a shuttle, a ferry, a new place all the same day. I can already see me wanting to go there each summer instead of San Diego.

I've already started a list of things I usually forget like sunscreen and hats.
Wendy -

It was no trouble at all to PM PrincessInOz and pixarmom - and I would have PM'd PHXscuba, too, if she hadn't found this thread on her own. I know there are other Catalina visitors out there (or potential visitors), but it's difficult to get people over to this side of the forum when most of the action is directly in the Disneyland section. However, as PHXscuba mentioned earlier, it's good for people to see other ideas of things to do on day trips or weekends as an alternative to Disneyland, or in addition to Disneyland.

San Diego definitely has better (bigger) beaches than Catalina does, so I wouldn't rule out San Diego from your future trips. Catalina actually has its sand imported from nearby Redondo Beach, believe it or not! Without that sand, it would be a mostly rocky coastline! But because Avalon is such a small town, the beach is tiny. That doesn't mean you can't make use of the Avalon beach, tiny though it is. My friends have gone swimming there, they have sunbathed there, I have spread out a blanket and read a book on the beach. It's functional - it's just small.

I think you could easily get away with spending 4 full days in Catalina if you mapped out each of your days well. You wouldn't want to stack too many activities or tours on top of each other in one day and then leave the remaining days kind of empty, because then your 14-year-old would for sure get bored.

You could do something like on your first night in Catalina - maybe on your arrival day - take the Flying Fish tour. It only runs once the sun sets (that's when the fish come out), so it has to be an evening cruise.

Then on your next day - a full day - rent the golf cart in the morning. That'[s kind of the 'intro to Catalina' thing to do! Do the 'get 3 hours for the price of 2 hours' deal and drive around in the hills, stopping at the Wrigley Memorial to explore the botanical gardens and the beautiful tile work.

Maybe mid-day or later that afternoon, you guys could rent a pedal boat. That kills another hour.

At some point you may want to take a Safari tour bus over to Two Harbors (where Doug's Harbor Reef is, which I mentioned earlier in this thread). Two Harbors has very little to look at except for some pelicans, but it's the drive over there to the other side of the Island that is interesting, because that's how you will see the most buffalo - in the less traveled areas of the interior of the Island. Anyway, that trip (one way) will take at least 90 minutes, possibly longer, and then it will take another 90 minutes back. So you will need to block a chunk of your day to do that. Maybe that could be done on the second full day?

And then you want to work in the zipline for your son - remember, don't forget to call the tour place and make sure your son will be allowed to do the zipline and that he is not too young. Also, you may want to book that zipline way in advance, because that is supposedly very popular and you wouldn't want him to miss out.

Then, perhaps, you may want to do things like the Semi-Sub (for fish viewing) or the Casino tour (if you like history and architecture) so you would need to sandwich those in somewhere. Or maybe you would like the tour that goes out to Seal Rock (it used to be called Cruise to Seal Rock - not sure what they are calling it now).

There are other tours and activities that I am not even mentioning - you could rent a motor boat, go parasailing, snorkeling, take a nature walk, miniature golf, etc.

So as you can see, there will be plenty of things to do to keep you occupied over a few days or several days. You just kind of need to plan it out. I've had a day in Avalon where we rented a golf cart for 3 hours, then did 4 tours in the same day and had 2 meals - and we were exhausted! But no time was wasted and we got a LOT done in that long day. On the other hand, I've been there with friends where we did nothing but rent a golf cart and that's it. Then we just walked around and around and around the rest of the time, and the day seemed to move very slowly.

You will actually be going to Catalina before I get there (I'm not going until July 21), so if you are back home from your whole trip before I leave, I can't wait to hear what you thought of Catalina and see your photos!

Make sure to post here when you have your plans in place and let us know where you are staying, what you're doing, etc.



Quote:
Originally Posted by pixarmom View Post
Hello again!

Blue Parrot - good question - I don't know but it sounds right because I couldn't find a link when I tried to locate it. If it's not there, I wonder if another restaurant has replaced it. It's right at the front of the Metropole Marketplace. Sad to see it go - but as long as Luau Larry's is still on the island, I'm good! And I remember the Busy Bee so well - loved it!

As for the horses, my mom and brother said they were never so scared - constantly wondering what would prevent the horses from jumping off the cliff! So I know they can relate. This was when I was an older teen and my dad and I knew that we didn't want anything to do with that - we sat ourselves down on the beach!

Great idea to start a superthread! I was thinking about doing that for Newport Beach someday. Every time I see a beach thread, I really want to jump in but I don't always have the time to repeat all the reasons Newport is the best beach in the world. (OK - one of those reasons is a nearly 50-year family history, but I never promised to be entirely objective!)

Newport/Catalina have some competition in the coming years - we're trying a cruise (Disney Dream) this August instead. And we may end up on the Disney Alaskan cruise in August 2012. Need to figure out how to get back in the middle of all that - our oldest son said it's been way too long since he ate a frozen banana on Balboa Island (and that was only seven months ago!) So everyone please keep those Catalina photos coming!


pixarmom - I would bet that another restaurant replaced Blue Parrot. It seems like there are some new places there now that were not around when I was last there. There is probably something in the Busy Bee's spot.

Even though I don't always go into Luau Larry's when I am in Avalon - sometimes we've gone in; sometimes we have not - I would hate for it to not be there. To me, that place belongs in Avalon. And I would absolutely be grief-stricken if they ever got rid of Antonio's! That is a staple for me! I have to eat at Antonio's!

Even if you venture away from Catalina for a couple of years to do the Disney cruises, you will make it back to the Island eventually! I find that once people really decide they love it there, they always go back sooner or later. People who could take or leave it are the ones who may not go back.

I actually love watching the California's Gold/Huell Howser Catalina shows - the Flying Fish one is particularly fun, but he has some other good ones!

I know that KCmike would definitely jump in if you started a Newport Beach superthread! He became a definite fan of Newport last year!
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Old 05-06-2011, 10:55 PM   #24
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Well I just booked the flight.

We arrive at SNA at noon on a Sat. and will have checked bags. I'll book a shuttle to Long Beach, will we have enough time to catch the 2pm boat? Or should we go for the 4:15 one to be safe?
I have no idea on times or distances as I've never flown in before?

PS ds wants to stay for a week. I think we'll do 4 or 5 days.
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Old 05-07-2011, 04:06 AM   #25
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Thanks for letting me post more pictures!

And yes - that golf place is very close to the boat dock.

I did wander in through the Metropole shops. We spent some time in the Games arcade there for DS and I looked at some of the shops in one side street. There were a number of interesting looking restaurants there in that side street as well. I'd definitely like to stay at the Metropole or the Casino.

I'm not sure what the name of the shop was for the tea; but it was at the corner and I sat in the little courtyard outside that was against another side street. It was nice there and I liked people watching.

Have fun planning everyone!

Endy - I'll look forward to see your photos!
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Old 05-07-2011, 06:04 PM   #26
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Wendy - I almost forgot to comment here.

I think you might be better off taking a boat in the 4:00 hour. It may be cutting it too close trying to get to the one that leaves in the 2:00 p.m. hour. Here's why:

Usually, Catalina Express wants the passengers to show up at the dock 45 minutes to 1 hour before departure time, and you will have to go up to the window and show them your "free birthday" voucher (which will be e-mailed to you as soon as you register for it on the Express website) and ID, and pay for your son and all that. At this point, we have noc lue how popular this birthday promo might be, and how many other birthday celebrants may be traveling on our days too!

Then, after you get your tickets at the ticket window, you'll have to line up to embark. If you and your son would like to have the best chance of sitting upstairs on the boat, in the outdoor seating (to scout for dolphins and sea life on the way to Avalon), you definitely don't want to be at the tail end of a long line. You want to be closer to the front of the line so you can get on the boat before others and claim your outdoor seats!

I think that trying to get to the Express (from SNA) by the 1:00 p.m. hour to get all that taken care of might be cutting it close. It could be possible, but I think I would feel safer choosing a later boat time.




PrincessInOz - It definitely sounds like your tea and brownie came from C.C. Gallagher's - they have an entrance along the main street (Crescent), but they have the patio with seating along the side street, as you mentioned. And they serve things like coffee and pastries and all that.

Yes, yes - post more photos! I think we'd all love to see them!!
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Old 05-08-2011, 02:07 PM   #27
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Here are some links pertaining to Catalina stuff which may or may not be of interest to lurkers out there.

Here is specific Zip Line Eco Tour info (and Wendy, notice that some of your dates are selling out already, so book your son on that Eco tour ASAP!):

http://visitcatalinaisland.tix.com/s...?actcode=45729



Here is a list of other Tours (the Semi-Sub is now called the Undersea tour, I see):

http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/avalon/Tours.php



Catalina Webcams:

http://www.catalinachamber.com/island/webcams



A Live Catalina Webcam:

http://www.catalinas.net/html/live_camera.html



Main Catalina Information links:

http://www.davestravelcorner.com/art...a/moreinfo.htm



This is the Facebook page for the Avalon Hotel - I have never stayed at this hotel, but notice the photo of the deer. We saw deer on one of our golf cart rides - you never know when and where you might encounter nature:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?s...3.135311168128
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Old 05-08-2011, 08:37 PM   #28
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Thanks again Sherry.
I will get the zipline booked tonight. DS is more than old and big enough to do it on his own. And I'll book the 4 o'clock Express, thanks for that hint. I hadn't read the 45 minute ahead of time.

Now to decide which place to stay, not much choice in my price preference. I was almost thinking of camping but read that it's 1.5 miles out of town so that may not be so good. Well if I was in shape it might be ok but that won't happen in two months.

I've been checking out the webcams. Looks amazing.

DS is excited about most of the tours and wants to do them all. And he thinks he needs a new camera good for underwater.

We'll do as many as we can, I think we'll end up getting the day pass. Coupons? Any chance there'll be any for the tours? Being that there's not a lot for competetion I highly doubt it.
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Old 05-09-2011, 09:52 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by endy View Post
Thanks again Sherry.
I will get the zipline booked tonight. DS is more than old and big enough to do it on his own. And I'll book the 4 o'clock Express, thanks for that hint. I hadn't read the 45 minute ahead of time.

Now to decide which place to stay, not much choice in my price preference. I was almost thinking of camping but read that it's 1.5 miles out of town so that may not be so good. Well if I was in shape it might be ok but that won't happen in two months.

I've been checking out the webcams. Looks amazing.

DS is excited about most of the tours and wants to do them all. And he thinks he needs a new camera good for underwater.

We'll do as many as we can, I think we'll end up getting the day pass. Coupons? Any chance there'll be any for the tours? Being that there's not a lot for competetion I highly doubt it.
Wendy -

You're welcome!

The Day Pass thing was not in existence the last time I went to Catalina. That's a new one! I saw it for the first time on the Catalina Express website a few months ago (before I knew about the Free birthday boat ride promo). It seems like the Day Passes have expiration dates - so it makes me wonder if they will have one that is active for your specific time frame, which will be a holiday weekend. That's probably when the Island gets a lot of business, so they may exclude that block of time from a Day Pass, but since the Day Pass is new territory for me, I can't say for sure.

Also, I have seen different Day Passes - for example, sometimes they will offer one that includes a golf cart rental. But then the next one they put out does not offer it. They don't seem to be consistent, which is annoying.

There used to be a Catalina discount card (like the size of a credit card) that was sold and could be used at various Island restaurants or shops. But they stopped making that card ages ago, unfortunately.

Check around online for Catalina Island coupons - you never know what you may find out there in cyberspace. It's a whole different ballgame now than it was when I was last in Catalina. I didn't even have a cell phone the last time I was there, and now I find myself wondering if I can use my cell phone on the Island when I go in July without incurring crazy roaming rates or something!! Even though I was on the Internet the last time I visited Catalina, I don't think that information and discounts for all kinds of places were as readily available online back then as they are now. These days, it seems like everything is found or done online, for the most part

I have seen Catalina Express boat coupons in the famous Entertainment Book before (that's the book from which everyone gets their Entertainment Card, which is used to get the great rates at HoJo's when people take Disneyland trips!). I don't have a current Entertainment Book, but if you can find someone who has one they might be willing to give you one of the Express coupons and you could get a few bucks off of your son's boat ticket (since yours will be free on your birthday with the voucher they e-mail to you).

As for hotels - if you want to go with a nice hotel that is pretty well-liked by most people who stay there but is not exactly cheap, then the Hotel Metropole seems to be a good bet.

Sometimes, if you choose a hotel that's up one of the hills - not way, way up in the hills, but just located on a street that is up an incline - it may be a wee bit cheaper. I stayed at the Hotel Catalina before, which is up a bit of a hill but still very close to the main street in Avalon. You could check there for rates. Seaport Village Inn used to have all kinds of prices and that is up a hill or two.

Otherwise, check places that are known to be "budget hotels" like the Hotel Atwater or the Hermosa Hotel/Catalina Cottages, as those tend to be much cheaper than other hotels (but not as nice).

The Catalina Beach House hotel used to be cheaper too.

The Catalina Visitors Guide (which you can look up online as you are waiting for the actual hard copy to arrive in the mail) is very good at showing you which hotels fall in the $ range, the $$ range or the $$$ range!! And it shows you which amenties do or don't come with each place.

I would skip the camping on this trip - the campgrounds are too far inland and you have to rely on the buses that pick up campers to go into town and come back to the campground. Usually, when people go camping they either don't go into Avalon at all or they only make one trip and then stay at the campsite the rest of the time. It would only limit your ability to do other things because you wouldn't have the flexibility to come and go as you wanted.

As for tours/activities - if it turns out that you can't do some of them on this trip because of timing issues or money or whatever, I would say the three quintessential things to do are: 1) the golf cart rental for 3 hours (3 for the price of 2) with a stop at the Wrigley Memorial and garden; 2) the Flying Fish tour (because the flying fish are so synonymous with Catalina and it's such a unique/fun sight to see); and 3) the Semi-Sub/Undersea tour (because you can see the fish much more close-up than you can on the Glass Bottom Boat tour).

And the Pedal Boats - while not mandatory to enjoy Catalina - are an inexpensive, relaxing way to cruise aorund the harbor.

Of course, your son will do the Zip Line Eco Tour as well. Heck, he may even want to get into the snorkeling and diving aspect of things if he is adventurous! I''m not a diver, but people say the diving on Catalina is awesome!


If you have extra money and/or time to pencil in some extra tours to the agenda, I would do the Seal Rock tour (or whatever they call it these days that brings you out to where the seals are), the Casino tour (your son would probably be bored to tears with that one, though - but wait until you see the gorgeous, grand movie theater inside the Casino) and whatever "tour" or transportation will take you all the way to Two Harbors and back, so you can see lots of buffalo in the interior of the Island.
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Old 05-09-2011, 03:54 PM   #30
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I would also not recommend staying in the campground in Avalon unless it is a real cost-cutter or the only option. DH stayed in Hermit Gulch (presuming that's the one you're thinking of) last summer. He said it was nice for a campground (they stayed in the tent-cabins) but a loooong walk (uphill) from town. They used cabs to take their gear up and back. He said the walk got old real fast.

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