How to Spend a Weekend on Catalina Island

Located just off the coast of Southern California lies Catalina Island. At 22 miles long and eight miles wide, this quiet island is a quaint escape from the hustle and bustle of the California mainland. With its clear blue water, small seaside villages, and more than enough outdoor activities, this island is perfect for a weekend getaway. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a mix of both, Catalina has something for every kind of traveler. Read on for our definitive pocket guide to spending a weekend discovering the island’s best hotels, restaurants, and local gems.

Where to Stay:

Hotel Metropole 

Looking for luxury? Head to Hotel Metropole. Situated in the heart of Avalon (one of the island’s two harbors), this stay is just a few steps away from the beach. Here, guests can pick from four different room options: Guest Rooms (some with fireplaces and patios), Ocean Front Mini Suites (with private balconies, king-size beds, and fireplaces), the VIP Wing (with full ocean views, king-size beds, jacuzzi bathtubs, and fireplaces), or The Beach House (which is a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom stay that has a full kitchen, patio, fireplace, and even a built-in library). Plus, the hotel has a full spa with a list of relaxing treatments.

Where to Eat:

The Lobster Trap

A local hotspot, The Lobster Trap is known for its fresh, locally sourced dishes and cool, laid-back vibe. The menu features tasty seafood options including its renowned lobster as well as crab legs, grilled fish, and shellfish. It also has big steaks, mouthwatering pasta, and delicious drinks. Visitors need to come here if they want to nosh on good food while enjoying a Catalina classic.

The Naughty Fox

Chic, classy, and always a good time, The Naughty Fox has quickly become a favorite among locals and visitors alike. This trendy eatery serves up contemporary American cuisine with island-inspired flavors, featuring dishes like lobster BLTs, gourmet burgers, and creative salads. Signature cocktails and a curated selection of wines and craft beers complement the menu, making every meal one to remember.  

Where to Drink:

Luau Larry’s

Luau Larry’s is an institution on Catalina Island. This spot has been around for over 30 years, offering world-famous drinks (including the Wiki Wacker, which contains rum, brandy, pineapple and orange juice, and grenadine), live entertainment, and mouthwatering food! The atmosphere is hard to beat, which means visitors might just stay here for hours on end. Plus, the name alone should be a reason to go!

Where to Visit:

Descanso Beach Club

Located on the waterfront lies Descanso Beach Club. As Catalina’s only beachside restaurant and bar, this is one of the very few places where people can (legally) have a drink in one hand and their feet in the sand. Sunbathe on a chaise lounge or opt for a private cabana while sipping on specialty cocktails (the Original Buffalo Milk, Descanso Destroyer, and Descanso Lemonade are almost too good to be true). What’s more, live DJs play here every Saturday during the summer.

Catalina Island Museum

Take a peek into the past at the ​​Catalina Island Museum. This museum has a vast collection of exhibits that highlight Catalina’s Native American heritage, its days as a glamorous playground for Hollywood stars, and its role in World War II as a strategic military outpost. In addition to its permanent exhibits, this museum hosts rotating art exhibitions that feature local and international artists throughout the year, making it a great spot to hit before a night on the town.

What to Do:

Zip Line Eco Tour

For those seeking adventure, look no further than the Zip Line Eco Tour. This guided tour takes participants through Descanso Canyon where they’ll cruise high above the rugged land. Each zip line has views of the ocean, making every stretch prettier than the last. Beyond the adrenaline rush, this tour also shares insights into Catalina’s ecology, meaning guests can learn more about the island while they soar over it.

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