Those who have never visited Avalon or Catalina Island before will be surprised to find such a peaceful and scenic retreat so close to the bustling hub of Los Angeles. Avalon is a quiet town with small boutiques and crafts shops; the largest stores on the island are the likes of Avalon Bay Company, Latitude 33° and High Tide Traders, which sell a variety of clothing and accessories. Take a stroll down the streets of Avalon, as you are sure to find some small-town treasures of locally made pottery or sculpture.

As Catalina Island is home to many protected species, you may want to learn something about conservation efforts and local wildlife, in which case the Catalina Island Conservancy will be happy to welcome you at one of their many educational or social events.

Avalon is also a great place to find some good food. Lloyd’s of Avalon is famous for their salt water taffy, caramel apples and pastries. Their desserts can even be ordered online from www.catalinacandy.com . For exceedingly fresh fruits de mer, try Armstrong’s Fish Market, which comes with a seafood restaurant that serves excellent sashimi, oysters and crab cakes. There are also more casual options like Luau Larry’s, which is a good place to mingle with island locals. Their “Wicky Wacker” and house beer, “Garibaldi Lager,” are quite popular.

One of the more popular things to do on the island is to take the ghost tour. The village of Avalon was built on an indian burial ground and much of that was disturbed as a result of the village being built out. Check out www.ghosttoursofcatalina.com for more information. Ghost hunting equipment and flashlights are suppied which makes this tour more than just telling ghost stories.

There is a new tour in town that is very historic with wine tasting included at the completion of the tour at one of the finest wine bars on the island. It focuses not only on the history of the island but the unique architecture, people and events which helped make Avalon what it is today. It even features some interesting Hollywood connections. It is called the Icons of Avalon and more information can be found at www.iconsofavalon.com

To learn more, check out the website for the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce.