Wednesday, March 13, 2013

catalina island getaway

pulling into avalon harbor
this is a long post folks! consider yourselves warned...  southern california really has a ton to offer and sometimes i have to remind myself to take advantage of opportunities outside of my everyday routines.  it's easy to stay in your own backyard (especially when your backyard is the beach) but i try to take advantage of visiting the mountains, the deserts and other towns and cities surrounding us when i get the chance.

the chance came up last week.  we found an awesome groupon deal for a 2-night stay on catalina island that included the ferry ride and museum passes and we were lucky enough to have a grandma visit and keep the pandi while we babymooned.  and what a wonderful babymoon it was!  it was a perfect time of year to go (not peak tourist season) and despite the forecast for rain, it ended up being great weather for the majority of the trip as well.

our trip started on the boat ride out of dana point.  the ride lasted about an hour and though we didn't see any whales on this trip, it's very common to spot them there this time of year.  after the short and comfortable ride ( i napped most of the way) we pulled into avalon harbor.  the city of avalon (don't you just love that name?) is on the southeastern end of the island.  the population is around 3700 and most everything is within walking distance.  we walked a couple of blocks to our hotel.  there's a wide range of accommodations on the island from luxury hotels to bed and breakfast setups.  we stayed in a little cottage, clean and comfortable but by no means luxurious.  the people at the front desk were some of the most genuinely friendly people we'd ever met though.
dana point harbor

bye bye real life!

we got a bite to eat at a deli and explored the tiny beach a bit before deciding to take the museum tour.  we had a lot of questions and thought it would make sense to check out the museum first.  it's tucked away in the casino (no longer a gambling establishment) and while it is very small, it has so many interesting exhibits!  we learned the island was previously owned by william wrigley jr (of chewing gum fame).  he did a lot of things for the island and its economy.  as an owner of the chicago cubs, he even arranged for their spring training to take place on the island.  the island was a haven for a lot of hollywood celebrities and part of the draw was the privacy.  paparazzi were dealt with by the locals so celebrities were free to relax.  marilyn monroe's first husband was a service member stationed on the island and there are lots of pictures of her enjoying island life.  we also learned about the love triangle between natalie wood, robert wagner, and christopher walken theat ended in her mysterious and tragic death on the island.  there were so many interesting facts and the docent was also particularly friendly and eager to answer questions.  we are glad we did the museum experience.
ice cream and giant lifeguard chairs

entry to the museum with an informative movie
loved this felt succulent display on the side of the building
golf carts as far as the eye can see; it's how most people (and their dogs) get around
i loved this unusual drink
the casino
art tile everywhere
the next day we hiked to the wrigley memorial and botanical garden.  the garden was started by his wife ada who contracted the garden to be filled with amazing succulents from around the world.  today there is also a section with plants endemic to the island and the only ones in the world.  the memorial is impressive and was constructed primarily from materials native to the island, a fact that wrigley would have loved.  there are also a few hiking trails there and we enjoyed the hermit gulch trail. between the hike and the memorial we had some amazing views of the town and the water.  we definitely recommend them!

the memorial from a distance
view from inside the memorial

tiles and flagstone from the island

you're welcome! and thank you for having us
 i'm so happy we were able to take this little getaway.  it's amazing how you can be so close to home yet feel like you traveled somewhere out of the way.  the island was a eclectic mix of european, native american and mexican influences.  the food and people were wonderful. and we will definitely go back!

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