So close and yet so overlooked. Catalina is a great island destination whether for a week or weekend. Our recent visit was inexpensive, relaxing, exciting and adventuresome.
The fun starts on the Catalina Express which departs from Long Beach and Newport. If you upgrade to Commodore Lounge when purchasing boat tickets, you can relax and start the fun with a Bloody Mary. With luck, whales and dolphins will add excitement to the trip.
THE ZANE GREY PUEBLO HOTEL
a step back in time….
This may be your last chance, as the hotel is for sale and will likely be purchased by a private party and closed to the public. But for now you can stay in the famed author’s former abode. The downside is the same as the upside: location. On a cactus covered hilltop near the bell tower, the sweeping views are unparalleled, the area void of noisy crowds and the ambience soothing. No phones or tvs in the small rooms, but there is a pool.
The common room for hotel guests (above).
This Hopi Indian style pueblo was where the famed western writer Zane Grey could escape and enjoy solitude. The rooms are named after his books, such as the Riders of the Purple Sage, and Wanderer in the Wasteland.
The price in May on weeknights was $75 a room. There is a pool, a common sitting room and balcony, and a light free breakfast. A free shuttle is offered to town and back a few times during the day. Otherwise, the 2 minute taxi ride is about $13 a trip.
RENT A GOLF CART!
Rent one in town, but they aren’t cheap. $40 an hour, and they only take cash, no credit cards. Have some extra cash for a deposit. But in two hours you can explore the island, enjoy the views, stop at the Wrigley Memorial, birdwatch in the botanical gardens, and get to know the lay of the land.
Forget dieting on this island. Restaurants abound and the food is great! Dine only feet from the ocean and enjoy a multitude of fresh seafood selections. Dining at Armstrong’s Fish Restaurant in town, we watched a large gull swoop down on the table next to us. It flew off with a pair of sunglasses while the patrons screamed. We ate fresh clams, sashimi and garlic-roasted artichokes. Warning: off season many of the restaurants close during the week, but there are still many choices.
Explore downtown and shop
There is the usual junk, but also a good supply of high-end clothing and other items that remind me of the shopping in Hawaii. For years I have visited a shop which has in its window a glass top coffee table supported by a large bronze swimming mermaid. For $2,000 it is not only too expensive but would hardly fit with my home dcor. I always visit it and dream!
Catalina is known for its tiles…
Looking for excitement? If you haven’t explored the outer portions of the Island, there are many tours ranging in time from an hour to a day. There is lots to see and do, such as a 3,600 foot zip line which takes you to 40 mph, under sea and scuba trips, glass bottom boat, and an historic tour of town.
Our two-night stay at the Zane Grey gave us plenty of time to explore and to relax.