What’s landed on, flown over Catalina

Los Angeles Times - - TRAVEL - By Rose­mary McClure travel@latimes.com

When you vis­ited Avalon in the early 1900s, rows of tents greeted you. The town on Santa Catalina Is­land has come a longway since then. You still can find tent camp­ing, but Catalina’s tourist vibe im­proves ev­ery year. If you’re look­ing for lux­ury rooms with a chic sea­side look, Avalon’s the place; if youwant to take a tour that’s out of this world, try the new UFO Tour; if you’re look­ing for bour­bon-spiked ice creamor Ital­ian cof­fee, stop by the new beach front Des­canso Fresh cafe. Here’s a look at some of the is­land’s other new sum­mer of­fer­ings.


The new kid in town is ac­tu­ally a 1921Catalina icon. The Inn at Mt. Ada, on a hill­side over­look­ing Avalon, was closed for a bit while it changed hands, but it has now re­opened and is bet­ter than ever. Once the sum­mer home of Wil­liam Wrigley Jr., the chew­ing gum ty coon who de­vel­oped Catalina into a tourist des­ti­na­tion, the inn has a fan­tas­tic panoramic view of Avalon and the bay. On a clear day, you can see the main­land.

The six-guest-room-bed-and break­fast has been painted, re­dec­o­rated and is in the mid­dle of a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar ren­o­va­tion, said Ran­dall Her­rel Sr., pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Santa Catalina Is­land Co., which is op­er­at­ing the inn. Dou­bles from$390 a night in­clude two meals and use of a golf cart.

Info: (800) 608-7669, www.visit


Catalina Canyon Re­sort& Spa, in the hills be­hind the city, re­fur­bished all 75 guest rooms and public ar­eas ear­lier this year and has a heated pool, a rare com­mod­ity on the is­land. Aplus for dog own­ers: It al­lows your ca­nine to stay too. (Two other dog-friendly spots— Her­mosa Ho­tel and Catalina Boat House— also ac­com­mo­date dogs.) Dou­bles from$237 per night.

Info: (310) 510-0325, www.catali­nacanyon­re­sort.com

Ho­tel MacRae, which fronts the bay, dates to the 1920s and also has been ren­o­vated. It now sports a fresh look and a court­yard pa­tio. Dou­bles from$179 a night.

Info: (800) 698-2266, www. hotel­macrae.com


Among new ways to pass the time this sum­mer: Is­land Spa, Catalina’s first des­ti­na­tion day spa. The new fa­cil­ity in­cludes a pool, over­looks the har­bor and has nine treat­ment rooms, a cafe, two lounges and an ocean-view deck. Try the hot-sand ther­apy for achy mus­cles. Or stop by Thurs­day, when­the spa is hav­ing an open house with com­pli­men­tary treat­ments aswell as snacks and bev­er­ages fromthe cafe.

Info: (310) 510-7300, www. is­landspacatalina.com Get a buzz on with the Happy

Hour Tour of Avalon, a late-af­ter­noon walk­ing tour that hits is­land wa­ter­ing holes for a taste of Catalina’s spe­cialty drinks. The 90minute tour costs $69 per per­son and usu­ally can be booked on Fri­days and Satur­days. Al­co­hol and snacks are in­cluded.

Info: (424) 226-9443, www. catali­nafood­tours.com

Is­land visi­tors can learn­more about the an­cient tra­di­tion of fal­conry on the new Fal­conry Ac­tiv­ity Tour slated to be­gin in late July. Trained fal­cons are used on the is­land to dis­cour­age sea gulls from pil­fer­ing food from tourists. Now Santa Catalina Is­land Co. will of­fer a chance for visi­tors to ob­serve and in­ter­act with the birds.

Info: www.vis­it­catali­nais­land.com

Is Catalina a UFO hot spot? Find out on Catalina UFO Tours, which of­fers a one-hour evening walk­ing tour. Catalina has had hun­dreds of UFO sight­ings, said tour leader Lili Dana. Cost: $20.

Info: (310) 510-9635, www.catalin­au­fo­tours.com

Arts and crafts fans can get their hands dirty while they learn about Catalina’s famed art tile tra­di­tion. Sil­ver Canyon Pot­tery of­fers in­ter­ac­tive tours that give par­tic­i­pants a chance to cre­ate their own hand made tiles for $45 a per­son.

Info: (310) 499-8799, www. sil­ver­canyon­pot­tery.com


Look­ing for ice cream with a kick? The rock­ing beach scene at Avalon’s Des­canso Beach Club has a new gourmet espresso bar and cafe, Des­canso Fresh, which also of­fers spiked ice creams. The res­tau­rant fea­tures home­made break­fast pas­tries, spe­cialty cof­fees and teas, fresh pressed juices, crepes, smooth­ies, grab-and-go sand­wiches and other break­fast and lunch items.

Info: www.lat.ms/1L3PYE0

You also will be able to pick up fresh morn­ing pas­tries at Ben’s Bak­ery, open­ing this sum­mer in the At wa­ter Ar­cade, 119 Sum­ner Ave., Avalon.

Ben’s will have fresh food and bev­er­ages, in­clud­ing spe­cialty cof­fees and teas, grab-and-go items and cus­tom bak­ery goods for spe­cial oc­ca­sions.

Info: www.vis­it­catali­nais­land.com

Daniel A. An­der­son

THE IS­LAND SPA across from the har­bor is Santa Catalina Is­land’s first des­ti­na­tion day spa. It has nine treat­ment rooms.

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