With its convenient location just an hour boat ride from the Southern California coast, Catalina Island has been a popular day trip from Los Angeles for generations. Day trippers can plan an excursion brimming with activities or simply explore the charming seaside village of Avalon.
Wondering what to do when you get here? Here are 7 fun activities to help you explore this unique island destination. While you may not be able to do all of these things in a single day, it will certainly answer the question of what to do on a day trip to Catalina Island.
Soar above it all on a parasail ride. One of the most popular Catalina day trip activities is parasailing and it’s not hard to see why. Floating weightless hundreds of feet above the sea, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of Avalon along with sweeping views of the Pacific and – on a clear day – the Southern California mainland.
Take a food tour. Catalina offers a tempting culinary scene and on the Avalon Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour you can get a taste of it all, along with learning more about the island’s fascinating history. With stops at six different island eateries, you’ll get to taste cocktails, appetizers, soups, sweets and more, giving you a delicious look at how Catalina eats.
Visit the Catalina Island Museum. Catalina’s human history stretches back more than 10,000 years, with native islanders inhabiting the island for generations, forging a culture and creating community. Since then, European explorers discovered the island and it’s been home to ranchers, smugglers, warriors and more. Don’t miss a visit to the Catalina Island Museum, where you can explore the island’s history along with an ever-changing array of temporary exhibits.
Zip down Descanso Canyon. One of the top attractions on Catalina Island is the zipline, a high-octane adventure that whisks intrepid travelers down five ziplines high above Descanso Canyon.
Take a hike. With nearly 76 square miles of undeveloped wildlands, Catalina Island offers intrepid travelers a vast wonderland to explore, complete with native wildlife, sweeping vistas and unforgettable seascapes. Take a few hours to hike from Avalon after visiting the Conservancy’s Trailhead for permits and hiking maps.
Explore the coast on a kayak. Thanks to its protected leeward shoreline, Catalina Island is the perfect place to dip a paddle in and glide above the surface of the sea while kayaking. Watch for bald eagles above while you look down at amber kelp forests and teeming marine life. You’ll stay – mostly – dry, but get a chance to experience the unbelievable beauty of the Pacific coast.
Discover the Casino. Catalina’s iconic architectural landmark has overlooked Avalon Harbor for nearly 100 years and since then the Catalina Casino’s architecture and unmistakable red roof have graced thousands of postcards, snapshots and paintings. Named for the Italian word for gathering place, or place of entertainment, the Casino has never hosted gambling; however it is home to a spectacular theatre and a magnificent circular ballroom. It’s a building not to missed on any day trip to Catalina Island.