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CIVR Blog: Catalina Island design

12:22 pm
Catalina Island's serpentine wall owes its existence to Otis Shepard and his wife Dorothy

Catalina Island’s serpentine wall owes its existence to Otis Shepard and his wife Dorothy

Catalina Island owes its present reality to many people: the Banning Brothers and the Wrigley family in particular were instrumental in shaping the future of the island and crafting Avalon into the tourists’ mecca it is today. Those men were far from alone, however, and many others had a hand in sculpting what Avalon looks like today.

One of the creative geniuses who influenced much of Catalina Island’s design was Otis Shepard, a legendary designer and artist who was a favorite of P.K. Wrigley. Shepard got his start in the 1920s painting billboards. He and his wife, Dorothy, another legendary designer, spent much of the early ‘30s designing and developing architectural guidelines and design elements that brought a cohesive sense of style to Avalon. Inspired by early California, including Spanish missions, Native American elements and Mexican art, much of the Shepards’ vision can still be seen today. The serpentine wall along Crescent Avenue, the distinctive street lights along Avalon’s waterfront and even the font on the street signs all were created by Otis and Dorothy Shepard.

Catalina Island’s design and architecture were far from the only Shepard creations to live on into the future. The Shepards and Wrigley continued to collaborate, with the Shepards creating the distinct style of the advertising for Wrigley Chewing Gum as well as the image of the Chicago Cubs.

CIVR Blog: Avalon on New Year’s Eve

12:48 pm
The Catalina Casino hosts an annual New Year's Eve gala

The Catalina Casino hosts an annual New Year’s Eve gala

New Year’s Eve in Catalina Island’s Casino Ballroom is one of the biggest parties in Southern California. The Casino is one of the most iconic buildings in the country and its ballroom is a dramatic homage to art deco. Featuring a rollicking band playing several decades worth of top hits as well as an expansive buffet dinner, this evening has rung in the new year on Catalina Island for more than 40 years. A balloon drop, on-site photographer and a gamut of party favors and noisemakers will contribute to the evening, which is presented by the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce. Tickets are $175 per person and reservations are available at 7, 7:30, 8 and 8:30 p.m. Reserve your time by calling the chamber (310) 510-1520 or by visiting their office, which is located on Avalon’s green Pleasure Pier.

Catalina’s Casino Ballroom may be the biggest party in Avalon on New Year’s Eve, but it will be far from the only one. From night clubs to wine bars and casual joints to high-end restaurants, most of Catalina’s establishments will be offering a unique way to ring in 2015. Reservations may be required at some establishments and fun will be had at all.

CIVR Blog: Catalina’s interior

12:52 pm
Catalina's interior offers beautiful vistas

Catalina’s interior offers beautiful vistas

Many Catalina Island visitors never find out for themselves what lies beyond the confines of Avalon. Surrounded by high hills and the Pacific, the quaint village is often the only picture of Santa Catalina that some visitors ever see. Avalon, however is only a tiny portion of the wonder of Catalina Island.

Encompassing about 76 square miles, the rest of Santa Catalina Island is a wonderland of dramatic vistas, unique species and undeveloped wildlands stretching as far as the eye can see. Exploring Catalina’s interior is an adventure open to everyone, from the thrill seeker to the armchair traveler.

One of the most dramatic ways to explore is via the Trans Catalina Trail, a hiking expedition that stretches from one end of the island to the other. A multi-day commitment, the trail includes dramatic elevation changes that will challenge many hikers and offers rewards of dramatic seascapes and compelling wildlife. For those who prefer to keep their feet a little more stationary, tours are also available, ranging from off-the-beaten road Jeep Eco-Tours to bus transportation to the Airport-in-the-Sky. Local Catalina companies also offer guided experiences to the interior.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island shopping

8:35 pm

 

For generations, Catalina has offered a number of treasures for shoppers. Catalina Island pottery is still collected today.

For generations, Catalina has offered a number of treasures for shoppers. Catalina Island pottery is still collected today.

Shopping on Catalina Island offers something for everyone. Toys and trinkets, art and artifacts, crafts and clothes all can be found in the many quaint shops scattered enticingly along Avalon’s waterfront. Dozens of stores and small businesses provide an array of temptations that will thrill even the most ardent treasure hunter, whether they are looking for a quirky Catalina souvenir or a unique Island memento that will become a family heirloom. Catalina Island shopping stands in sharp contrast to the mainland shopping experience. Chains and franchises are few and far between on the island and in most stores you will frequently meet the owner, who is eager to share local stories and recommendations.

Several stores feature art and crafts both created on and inspired by Catalina Island. Whether it’s nearly 100 year old pottery or art created using the most modern of technological advances, finding a keepsake that embodies Catalina Island creativity is easily done.

Looking for the perfect gift for the Catalina Island shopping fan? The Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce offers gift certificates in any denomination. These versatile certificates can be redeemed at most Catalina Island businesses, provided they are members of the chamber and participate in the program. Call (310) 510-1520 for more information.

Toys and trinkets, art and artifacts, crafts and clothes all can be found in the many quaint shops scattered enticingly along Avalon’s waterfront. Dozens of stores and small businesses provide an array of temptations that will thrill even the most ardent treasure hunter, whether they are looking for a quirky Catalina souvenir or a unique Island memento that will become a family heirloom. Catalina Island shopping stands in sharp contrast to the mainland shopping experience. Chains and franchises are few and far between on the island and in most stores you will frequently meet the owner, who is eager to share local stories and recommendations.

Several stores feature art and crafts both created on and inspired by Catalina Island. Whether it’s nearly 100 year old pottery or art created using the most modern of technological advances, finding a keepsake that embodies Catalina Island creativity is easily done.

Looking for the perfect gift for the Catalina Island shopping fan? The Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce offers gift certificates in any denomination. These versatile certificates can be redeemed at most Catalina Island businesses, provided they are members of the chamber and participate in the program. Call (310) 510-1520 for more information.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island gift certificates

4:24 pm
The gift of Catalina Island will last a lifetime. Photo Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce

The gift of Catalina Island will last a lifetime. Photo Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce

The gift of Catalina Island can be one that lasts a lifetime. Cherished memories are born here. Time spent exploring Catalina’s interior, relaxing on its beaches and strolling its charming streets is a gift that will be remembered forever.

There are many ways to give the gift of Catalina Island, but one of the most effective is by giving the gift of Catalina Island Vacation Rentals. Gift certificates are available in any amount, so you can either contribute to a weekend getaway or, if you’re feeling particularly magnanimous, you can give a yearly getaway for the entire family. Whether you are looking for a romantic gift for that special someone or an ideal present for a family, a gift certificate from Catalina Island Vacation Rentals will let you outshine Santa.

Catalina Island Vacation Rentals offers a wide range of Catalina Island accommodations, including Hamilton Cove Villas, Avalon homes and cottages, Two Harbors casas and Avalon condos. Properties are available for every Catalina getaway, from cozy cottages for two to expansive vacation homes that sleep up to 12. Click here for more information about how you can give a holiday gift that will last a lifetime.

CIVR Blog: Catalina winter wonderland

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Descanso Beach is located just past the Casino on Catalina Island

Descanso Beach is located just past the Casino on Catalina Island

Winter Wonderland may not be the first things that come to mind when you think of Descanso Beach, but this weekend, that is just what’s going to happen. Normally renowned for its white sand, swaying palm trees and cocktail service on the beach, Descanso will be offering a Catalina Winter Wonderland and three days of holiday and frolicking.

Perhaps the most intriguing activity to be offered will be “ice” skating. While it won’t be real ice, this reasonable facsimile will offer all the gliding and fun for all ages. You’ll also find a bounce house, caricature artist and face painting as well as snow cones, churros and hot chocolate. Jolly ole St. Nick will be available for pictures with Santa.

This Winter Wonderland isn’t just about the fun. If you bring an unopened child’s gift or a bag of non-perishable food, you’ll receive $10 worth of activity tickets. The donated goods as well as a portion of the proceeds will be donated to deserving families on the island.

The Winter Wonderland will be open for three days. On Friday, Dec. 5, it will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Saturday, Dec. 6, it will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. On Sunday, Dec. 7, it will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A free shuttle will be available between the Via Casino arch and Descanso Beach during the Winter Wonderland.

CIVR Blog: Catalina questions

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New visitors often have interesting questions.

New visitors often have interesting questions.

Learning everything there is to know about Catalina Island would take a lifetime. No matter how many times you visit or how many years you spend living here, there’s always something new to discover. Fascinating history, compelling geology and intriguing biology mean that there are always new questions to ask and new facts to learn.

For many visitors, Catalina Island is a completely new destination and the idea of visiting an island getaway presents a unique level of curiosity. Questions from those first-time visitors can be interesting to contemplate.

“Can I drive to Catalina?” Despite the Avalon Blvd exit on the Harbor Freeway, we have to recommend against it.

“Do I need a passport?” No, but it might be fun to make one anyway as a souvenir for your kids.

“What kind of currency will I need?” That depends, what kind do you have?

“What time does the 4 o’clock boat leave” If you’re running late it probably leaves at 3:59.

Many first time visitors are surprised to discover that not only is Catalina Island part of the United States, it’s also part of California and Los Angeles County. Its school is part of Long Beach Unified School system and it is served by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Los Angeles County Library system. Although we’re 20 or so miles off the coast, we’re still considered part of North America and, geologically speaking, like the rest of southwestern California, we’re on the Pacific plate.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island dining

2:55 pm
Catalina Island dining offers something for everyone

Catalina Island dining offers something for everyone

For many vacationers, dining out is a key component of a great vacation. New tastes and new experiences align with favorite traditions to create a culinary adventure. Catalina Island dining offers something for everyone. Early morning coffee shops, bakeries and classic diners offer a great way to start the day. Lunch options include everything from grab-and-go sandwiches, fresh salads and healthy soups to burgers, fries and hot dogs. At dinner, Catalina Island restaurants provide a cornucopia of culinary choices. Family-friendly pizza joints, fresh seafood and prime steaks compete for your appetite with Asian, Mexican and Italian options. Quick snacks and tempting desserts, appetizers and ice cream are all waiting to be discovered.

Whether those on your Christmas list would prefer a quick lunch of burgers and fries or a culinary adventure with several courses, Catalina Island dining is a perfect option for everyone on that list. Nearly all Catalina Island restaurants offer gift certificates. Simply call your favorite Avalon dining establishment and let them know that you’d like to give the gift of Catalina Island dining this year. In most instances, they will be able to accept payment via credit card and mail a gift certificate. Alternately, the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce offers Catalina Island gift certificates that can be used at most member businesses.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island Conservancy

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A gift membership includes admission to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden. Photo courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy

A gift membership includes admission to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden. Photo courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy

During the season of giving, Catalina Island offers a wealth of opportunities. Sweeping vistas, dramatic seascapes and flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth make Catalina’s interior one of the most awe-inspiring gifts of all.

Thanks to the generosity of one family, the island will continue to inspire for generations to come. In the 1970s the Wrigley family gave the world the gift of Catalina Island by creating the Catalina Island Conservancy, a present that will preserve the island in its natural state in perpetuity. Organized around the three ideas of conservation, education and recreation, the non-profit Catalina Island Conservancy owns 88 percent of the island and is responsible for an array of projects and programs in support of its mission.

Supporting the Catalina Island Conservancy is one of many ways to give the gift of Catalina Island. Memberships are available for any budget and provide a number of privileges including free admission to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Gardens, special rates on the Wildlands Shuttle and Jeep Eco-tours and discounts at several partner businesses in Avalon. For more information about supporting the Catalina Island Conservancy, visit their website.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island maps

5:24 pm
Explore population numbers of Catalina Island fox. Photo by Jack Baldelli, Courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy.

Explore population numbers of Catalina Island fox. Photo by Jack Baldelli, Courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy.

If you’re missing your favorite island and just can’t seem to schedule a getaway soon enough, there are plenty of ways to get a dose of Santa Catalina Island from anywhere in the world. While it certainly won’t compete with an actual Catalina Island visit, the Catalina Island Conservancy offers a number of virtual Catalina Island maps and tours on its website. Informative, entertaining and intriguing, these maps and tours provide a virtual visit to several spots on the island.

All of the maps require a download of the Google Earth Plugin, which will take few minutes to download depending on the speed of your internet connect. Once you have the free application, you’ll be able to explore key conservation activities of the Conservancy, including the dramatic changes in numbers of the Catalina Island fox and non-native plant species removal.

Looking to plan your Island explorations before your next trip? The Conservancy’s bike trail map provides elevation changes as well as mapping so you’ll be able to determine just how hard you want to push yourself. Prefer to relax and enjoy the ride? Check out the tour of the Wildlands Express route from Avalon to the Airport in the Sky. Speaking of the Airport in the Sky, you can also explore that island landmark from the comfort of your computer.