Family Vacations in California

Family Vacations in California: Santa Catalina Island

Get away from the big-city hustle and bustle on Santa Catalina Island.

Only 22 miles from Los Angeles, quiet Santa Catalina Island seems a world apart from the hustle and bustle of the big city across the water. It's a laid-back, traffic-free, clean-air vacation spot with plenty of elbow room for any active family that likes to hike, snorkel, kayak, and explore.

Visitors take ferries from San Pedro, Long Beach, or Dana Point to get to one of Catalina's two principal towns: Avalon, with its famous old casino, or the more isolated Two Harbors. Both towns have picturesque harbors where boats of all sizes and shapes are anchored. Kids can explore the harbors in easy-to-use ocean kayaks and pedal boats that are rented on the island.

Most of the island's beaches are somewhat rocky, but there's plenty to do besides lounge in the sand. Lover's Cove, a protected marine preserve, is a short walk from Avalon and is an excellent spot for snorkeling. The fish are plentiful and used to people, thanks to frequent feedings from passengers on the glass-bottom boats that tour the area. Much of the interior of the island is protected by the Catalina Island Conservancy. It oversees the diverse island habitat that is home to plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. The organization also sponsors a nature center at Avalon Canyon and conducts nature walks every evening. Kids will enjoy the center's hands-on exhibits that feature information about the island's native wildlife and hiking its many nature trails.

Santa Catalina Island Information

Address: Crescent St and Summer Ave, Santa Catalina Island, CA

Telephone: 310/510-1520

The largest living organism in the world resides at our next attraction. Go to the next page to learn about Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Los Angeles City Guide: Explore the City of Angels -- Los Angeles is brimming with restaurants, shops, attractions, and the occasional celebrity hotspot.
  • California State Guide: From north to south, California encompasses mountains, deserts, beaches, and vineyards. Learn about it all in our guide to California.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.