In January 2013, I took a long vacation back to San Diego to visit friends and got to cross off one of my bucket list trips—Catalina Island! There are 2 main commercial ferries to Avalon, CI’s only incorporated city, from the ports at Long Beach (closer to LA) or Dana Point (closer to SD). I had been to Dana Point in 2009 during a stop on one of MANY short trips from SD to Anaheim to see the Orioles play the Angels. On that particular stop, I got out of the car to check out the coast. I was wearing my dad’s O’s jersey with our last name on the back and one of my travel companions was wearing an M.R. Ducks t-shirt. Remember those, from Ocean City ? I used to collect every color. Anyway, we were standing there admiring the view and a gentleman came up behind us. He said, “Excuse me, are you from Maryland? I’m Brooks Robinson.” Mouth dropped open, “Yeah ya are!” So that was cool.
Anyway, in 2013 we drove to the Dana Point ferry port and spent an hour soaring on the gray Pacific on the Catalina Express. I had no idea what to expect. Was it going to look like it did in Step Brothers? F*ng Catalina Wine Mixer.
It was basically a big rocky mountain with tons of boats, steep streets with few cars and many golf carts, and a huge round theater-type building jutting out over a beach.
This famous structure is Catalina Casino (built in 1929), but it’s not for gambling. I ended up touring the casino, which is used as a ballroom and meeting hall. During the tour, I learned how the Wrigley family who owns the Cubs used to have the Cubs’ spring training on the island 1921-1951. The island is also famous for hosting a marathon and countless movie scenes have been filmed there.
I spent one night at a hotel, Glenmore Plaza, I found last minute on Trip Advisor. Two days was plenty of time for me to squeeze in a super long hike, a tour of the Casino, shopping in the port, Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Garden, and best of all, a glass-bottom boat excursion. There were some neat shops where I bought a necklace with one of my favorite quotes on it, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Great coffee and burgers. Seeing the beach in front of the casino, I could just imagine the old Hollywood film stars of the 30’s and 50’s coming to Catalina for some R&R.