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CIVR Blog: Catalina live music

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The Castaway concerts bring all new live music to Catalina Island.

The Castaway concerts bring all new live music to Catalina Island.

Each summer for the last several years, Avalon Harbor has echoed with the toe-tappin’, singalong, gotta-get-up-and-dance sounds of the Xceptional Catalina Summer Concert Series. With nearly a dozen concerts scattered through the summer, the series brings together families for dancing in the streets to the sounds of both tribute bands and original musicians.

With an array of talented musicians, Xceptional Music Company is now bringing a new concert series to Descanso Beach on Catalina Island. The Castaway Catalina Island Concerts will bring a series of three tribute concerts to Avalon’s popular Descanso Beach. With swaying palm trees, food and cocktail service on the sand and the soothing susurrus of the sea, Descanso Beach is one of the most popular destinations on the island and the Castaway Catalina Island Concerts will be an irresistible Catalina live music addition.

The first concert takes the stage on July 31 and will bring the Red Not Chili Peppers, a tribute band to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. On August 14, Zac, Jack and the Jimmys will honor Zac Brown Band, Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews Band and Jimmy Buffet. And on August 28, Mick Adams and the Stones are one of the country’s top Rolling Stones tribute bands. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. and tickets are available here.

CIVR Blog: Pleasure Pier Catalina

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A stroll on the Pleasure Pier is a must while on Catalina Island

A stroll on the Pleasure Pier is a must while on Catalina Island

Avalon’s green Pleasure Pier on Catalina Island is one of its most distinctive landmarks. The bright green color, affectionately known as Pier Green by locals, draws the eye, promising summer fun with a unique island flair. Home to several businesses, ticket offices and government agencies, the pier is also a favorite spot for a stroll, both when bustling with business in the afternoon or calm and relaxing in the early morning hours.

The Pleasure Pier was not always the only pier in Avalon. For decades, the shorter, wider Steamer Pier hosted the steamships that brought thousands of visitors to Avalon for generations. Visitors would leave the ship, often after tossing a coin for the young men – and women – who would dive to the bottom of Avalon Harbor to thrill the tourists and make plenty of pocket change in the process. Located to the left of Antonio’s Cabaret, the Steamer Pier was torn down after falling into disuse and disrepair.

Today, a walk down the green Pleasure Pier is must for nearly every visitor to Catalina Island. In the summer months, an extension provides a home for the Avalon Harbor Patrol’s fleet of patrol boats as well as Island Navigation’s water taxis. Fishing from the pier is a popular activity with visitors both young and old angling for kelp bass, perch and more. Parasailing, scuba diving and water tours can all be arranged from the pier as can the rental of a fleet of small vessels. The Avalon Harbor Department office is located at the end of the pier, Baywatch Avalon’s paramedics have their office in the middle of the pier and the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce operates its visitors’ services center at the base of the pier. Shopping and dining are also available at various spots on this iconic landmark.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island summer naturalist

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Wrigley Memorial on Catalina Island

Wrigley Memorial on Catalina Island

Each summer, Catalina Island offers a wealth of opportunities to explore. Warm waters beckon, restaurants offer tempting menus and Avalon’s beaches provide endless opportunities for fun. Summer also offers a great chance to learn more about everyone’s favorite island with the Catalina Island Conservancy’s popular summer naturalist program.

Responsible for protecting Santa Catalina in perpetuity, the Catalina Island Conservancy’s mission also includes recreation and education. They combine the two each Tuesday and Saturday for a naturalist-led Garden to the Sky hike, which takes hikers from the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden up to the ridge line that saddles the island and provides spectacular views of the windward side of the island. The hikes leave at 10:30 a.m. and are free for Conservancy members. Non-member hikers will pay $12 for adults and $8 for kids.

Island fans who are not up for hikes can also learn more about the native flora and fauna at the free tours of the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden, which are held every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.  Originally developed by Ada Wrigley, the garden’s 35 acres include plants from all of Southern California’s Channel Islands as well as succulents from around the world.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island Museum

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The Catalina Island Museum is currently located in the Casino Building.

The Catalina Island Museum is currently located in the Casino Building.

One of Catalina Island’s most ambitious construction projects has recently entered its final phase. The Catalina Island Museum is currently building a new facility on Metropole Avenue, one of the largest construction projects in the island’s history. The Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building will include expansive exhibit and event space and is on track to open to the public later this year.

With Spanish tiles, colonnades and white stucco, the building is designed to fit in with some of the island’s most iconic architecture. Museum staff take the island’s needs seriously during construction, barging containers of water to the island to meet to the construction’s needs. With state-of-the-art exhibit space, a 100-seat amphitheater and a range of galleries for both permanent and visiting exhibits, the new museum is designed to meet to communities needs for generations to come.

Currently, the Catalina Island Museum operates in a small space located in the bottom floor of the Casino Building. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors. Children under 15 are free. Visitors and residents who would like to support the museum and its efforts to preserve Catalina Island’s fascinating history can become members; memberships are available starting at $45 per year and include free admission.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island volunteers

4:52 pm
Removing non-native plants is a key element in preserving the island's native ecology

Removing non-native plants is a key element in preserving the island’s native ecology

Catalina Island has intrigued generations of travelers. Unique wildlife, breath-taking natural beauty and an unspoiled wilderness found nowhere else make the island a destination that resonates, calling vacationers back again and again. While Avalon’s quaint charms and Two Harbors remote attraction provide plenty of temptations for travelers, for many people it’s the interior of the island that truly calls to them.

Thanks to the Catalina Island Conservancy and the vision of the Wrigley family, nearly 90 percent of the island is protected in perpetuity from development. Santa Catalina’s remote canyons, windswept promontories and native flora and fauna will never face the urban sprawl that characterizes the mainland. This non-profit organization was founded in 1972 and continues in its mission today, thanks to the generosity of its founders and others who love the island.

One of the best ways to learn more about the Catalina Island Conservancy and its role on the island is by volunteering. Regular opportunities include Thursdays at the Nursery and the monthly Windward Beaches Cleanup. Catalina Island Vacation Rentals has also worked with the Catalina Island Conservancy to develop Volunteer Vacations, giving travelers an even more in-depth way to give back and make their time on Catalina Island make a difference.

Volunteer Vacation Information

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island Fourth of July

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4th of July in Avalon

Fourth of July on Catalina Island is a family tradition for thousands. With a Fourth of July parade featuring festively decorated golf carts and a fireworks over Avalon Harbor, the small town charm of Avalon seems ideally suited for America’s most patriotic celebration.

Each year, thanks to the dedicated fundraising of alumni and other supporters, including the Avalon Rotary Club, the highlight of the Fourth of July Parade is the University of Southern California Marching Band in full regalia. The parade also features floats and golf carts festooned with bunting, streamers and every variation of the Red, White and Blue imaginable. After the parade, the USC Marching Band will head to the Casino Building for a special concert to accompany a barbecue dinner. The night’s culmination will be one of the most memorable fireworks shows imaginable. Although other fireworks extravaganzas may have more pyrotechnics, there’s no way to beat sitting on the beach, watching the fireworks reflected in Avalon Harbor while listening to their explosions echo up Avalon Canyon.

Avalon isn’t the only Catalina Island Fourth of July celebration. Two Harbors, at the island’s remote West End, also gets in the patriotic festivities. Two Harbors Fourth of July activities include a children’s festival, dinghy parade and fireworks on Saturday, July 5.

CIVR Blog: #WhateverUSA Catalina

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#Upforwhatever Catalina Island Contest winners have barely made their way back home and many are already calling Bud Light’s weekend-long island party “the best weekend ever.” Many Catalina residents would have to agree.

Catalina Island was chosen from cities around the country to become the beer company’s latest #WhateverUSA location. With an air of whimsy and spontaneous fun, the event brought a level of frolic to Avalon not seen before. Pottery classes on the beach, street performers and yoga on the sand were just a few of the many #Upforwhatever activities. A Great Gatsby themed party at the Catalina Casino was a highlight, as was a performance by Snoop Dog, who arrived at Wrigley Stage on a hot dog cart.

While the fun and frolic at #UpForWhatever has been widely lauded as being on an epic scale, Bud Light and its management team are also receiving kudos for their organizational skills. Although beer was the reason for the promotion, drunkenness was discouraged , trash was quickly picked up and the participants were respectful and appreciative.

#WhateverUSA Catalina will continue to have an impact on the island long after the fun is gone. Joe Machado Field, Avalon’s most popular sports field, will receive a $500,000 renovation thanks to Anheuser Busch, Bud Light’s parent company. Perhaps even more importantly, video and photographs of the party and Catalina Island will continue to be used to promote Bud Light around the country.

CIVR Blog: Catalina #UpForWhatever

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Catalina Island is #UpForWhatever

Catalina Island is #UpForWhatever

Catalina Island is always a fun place to spend a weekend, but this weekend the fun was taken to a whole new level, thanks to Bud Light and its #UpForWhatever promotion. The beer company transformed parts of Avalon into a festival of frolic and fun, including world-class concerts, off-the-wall activities and unique experiences. The party was open to 1,000 #WhateverUSA Catalina Island contest winners as well as local residents and property owners.  With purple parades, restaurants transformed into Moroccan lounges, light shows and an atmosphere of anything can happen, #UpForWhatever is likely to be remembered for years to come as a weekend of epic fun. Even the Casino Building was brought into the fun, with a deep blue lights shining on its storied walls.

Lauded by participants and locals alike for both its fun factor and organization, #WhateverUSA means much more to the island that just a weekend of fun and whimsy. #UpForWhatever Catalina Island will be used to promote Bud Light – and the island – over the next year. Last year’s #WhateverUSA location, Crested Butte, Colorado, was featured in a Super Bowl commercial, as well as promotional materials throughout the country. Catalina Island supporters hope the island will receive similar exposure.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island walks

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Wrigley Memorial on Catalina Island

Wrigley Memorial on Catalina Island

Catalina Island abounds with secrets — Secret spots, secret history and secret stories. In our latest series of blog posts, we’ve been sharing some of our favorite Catalina Island secrets.

Walking in Avalon is the perfect mode of transportation. While many visitors are intrigued with the fun and convenience of our ubiquitous golf carts, leaving the wheels parked and getting going with your own two feet is the ideal way to experience this quaint Catalina Island town. Walking’s slower pace and quiet atmosphere provide a chance to experience more of Avalon’s charms.

Whether it is walking to town from Hamilton Cove, strolling along the Avalon waterfront or taking on a challenging hike on the Trans-Catalina Trail, walking is the secret key to Catalina Island transportation. Everyone who lives on the island has their own favorite Catalina Island walk, but one of our favorites is the walk from town up to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden. This casual stroll takes you up Avalon Canyon along the Catalina Island Visitors Golf Course. The walk lasts just over a mile from Avalon and culminates at the garden, where visitors can learn more about the island’s native flora.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Summer Activities

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Catalina-casino-kids

Summer is just around the corner on Catalina Island and that means a return of some of our favorite family activities. While the Summer Concert Series is a widely popular new addition to the summer calendar, summer in Avalon brings several more activities that are fun for everyone.

Each Wednesday beginning June 24, the City of Avalon Recreation Department hosts a Kids Fishing Derby. With awards and accolades for biggest fish and strangest fish, this tournament is all about having fun and getting the kids excited about the outdoors. The fishing starts at 7 a.m. at the end of green Pleasure Pier. Call (310) 510-1987 for details.

The City of Avalon is also responsible for one of Catalina Island’s most enduring – and endearing – family fun traditions. Each Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 7 p.m. the city hosts Beach Bingo at the South Beach lifeguard stand. Bingo cards are only $1 and winners receive some great local prizes.

As the organization responsible for protecting nearly 90 percent of Catalina Island, the Catalina Island Conservancy has some interesting stories to tell. Learn more about the island the efforts needed to protect its unique ecosystem at one of the Conservancy’s guided hikes, only available in the summer.