Catalina Island is often referred to as a “Mediterranean getaway in California,” and while much of SoCal can claim Med meteorology, there is something to the name. Warm and sunny, with a small town built into the hills around a palm tree–lined seafront that overlooks a sleepy harbor, it evokes any number of spots on the Italian—or French—Riviera.
Claimed by the Spanish empire, then once part of Mexico, then of the United States, before being largely owned by a series of private developers including William WrigleyJr. (he of the ubiquitous chewing gum), Catalina has a fascinating history.
The 22-mile-long island—just an hour’s ferry ride from Los Angeles—has provided shelter for smugglers, served as a training ground for the Wrigley-owned Chicago Cubs, and long been a respite from mainland life. It’s attracted the Hollywood elite of the ’30s and ’40s and the Insta hordes of the noughties, but it’s an accessible, unpretentious getaway for all.