Calling somewhere a great launching pad to other places can be a bit of a backhanded compliment. But while Los Angeles itself has plenty to keep you busy (beaches, theme parks, places to explore Latinx and Black food, history, and culture), it’s also just two or three hours from a host of diverse weekend getaway options.


How far is Catalina Island from Los Angeles?

A couple dozen nautical miles. It takes about an hour to get to Avalon on Catalina Island by ferry from Long Beach.

Why go to Catalina Island?

For a change of pace. Island life is a little slower, there are barely any cars there (there’s a 25-year wait to get one, and most people move around on golf carts), and days are based around leisure pursuits.

Where to stay

The Hotel Atwater in the center of town was recently refreshed to mark its 100th anniversary, and it offers bright and airy rooms with art deco touches, harbor views from its top-floor rooms, a lively reception stuffed with games, plus coffee and grab-and-go food at the adjacent Bistro at the Atwater.

Book now: from $169/night,

Where to eat

Descanso Beach Club, a short walk from the main town in an adjacent bay, offers cocktails and appetizers on the beach, and Avalon Grille serves local seafood (including scallops, salmon, or trout) and craft beers from a patio with harbor views. There’s also a ton of seaside fare on offer along the harborfront; take a stroll and take your pick between pizza or burgers or ice cream at any number of places.

Things to do

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to spending a weekend in Catalina, but you could fill your days with anything from ziplining to semi-submersible tours, kayaking, snorkeling, Jeep tours, or simply slowing down to island time with a book on the beach.


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