By Amanda Gettinger
Why You Must Go: Located only 20 miles off the coast of Long Beach—or about an hour away in boat-time via the Catalina Express—the island’s main community of Avalon is a blissful, quaint town that offers peace and relaxation or an abundance of activities. The Pavilion Lodge, located only a few feet from the beaches’ lapping waves, is a peaceful retreat. The Pavilion’s rooms showcase marine color schemes, beautiful furniture and many modern conveniences. Location, location, location applies here as you’re only steps from the water, restaurants and everything else.
Where To Eat: Five minutes from the beach, the Catalina Country Club offers intimate, exceptional dining. Whether you choose terrace or indoor seating, you are treated to a panoramic ocean view while sampling outstanding fare. The club can boast about offering only organic vegetables, fruit and meats, which Chef Kathleen Vojkovich-Bombard’s channels into a superb menu. Each dish, from the simple cheese and wine flights to the French onion soup, from the Angus fillet to the Maple Leaf duck breast, was delicious, perfectly seasoned and beautifully presented.
What Else To Check Out: You must tour the world famous Catalina Casino. Named from the Italian word for gathering place, this casino does not provide gambling but a spectacular grand ballroom and movie theater. This massive structure not only dominates the Avalon landscape, but holds an interesting and intriguing history—to hear it, you’ve gotta come here. To fully appreciate the island above and below the water, you can take a ride on the Starlight and Emerald semi-submersible vessels and come face to face with Catalina’s abundant marine life without even getting your toes wet. For a more athletic, adventuresome exploration of the island, equipment rentals abound, including bikes, kayaks, scuba and snorkeling gear.
Pavilion Lodge, 513 Crescent Ave., Avalon, (310) 510-1788, www.pavilionlodge.com; Packages range from (Island Escape) $168-$380 (Cape Canyon) through June 12.