Escape the busy city in infamous L.A. traffic jams and immerse yourself in the Mediterranean charm of Catalina Island. Just a short ferry ride from the mainland, Catalina Island is a hidden gem that is perfect for a weekend trip. We put together a weekend itinerary with our best picks to get the most of your Catalina Island Weekend Trip.
Get started with our Catalina Island Weekend Trip Itinerary
For a weekend trip we created a three day itinerary from Friday (arrival) to Sunday (departure).
Day 1 – Friday
Arrive on Catalina Island
We booked a round-trip ferry with Catalina Express leaving from Dana Point. Catalina Express offers comfortable transport to Catalina Island from San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point.
Dinner at Bluewater Grill
To fully enjoy the views from the Bluewater Grill, make a reservation before sunset. We recommend making a reservation for oceanfront seating.
Watch a Movie at the Avalon Theater
The Avalon Theater in the Casino is one of the first theaters built for talking movies (“Talkies”) and is still screening movies to this day. Screenings are usually around 6pm and 8pm.
Where to Stay?
We stayed at the Bellance Hotel, centrally located in Avalon.
For more hotel recommendations check out or extensive Catalina Island post.
Day 2 – Saturday
Get up early for a stroll around town and visit the quaint downtown. This is a great time to explore the island before the cruise ships and ferries arrive and the town gets busier.
Grab a Bite at Catalina Coffee & Cookie
Grab your coffee and a light breakfast before heading out to your first activity.
Hike or Take a Bison Tour
Both are great options for a morning activity before the sun gets too hot for your Catalina Island weekend trip.
While most people do the later tour, you’ll have the chance to go on the early tour since you stayed overnight. Whether you are doing a hike or join the Bison tour, it’s not like you’ll see a lot of people anyway, but it is nice knowing that you’re one of the first out there.
The Bison tour is about a 2-hour adventure that takes you from Avalon into the center of the island where you’ll get some amazing viewpoints and the chance to spot bison and Catalina foxes.
Bison tour (9:30am, 12:30pm & 2:30pm) about 2 hours
We always enjoy exploring on foot and went on a stunning hike with Catalina Backcountry. If you are planning a hike, make sure to reach out to them to take you around the island. Depending on your fitness level and how much time you have they’ll find the best hike for you.
No matter what hike you do, you’ll enjoy great views of Avalon and the island. If you’re lucky, you might spot a bison or Catalina Island fox.
Catalina Backcountry offers different hikes for everyone. In you are in for a multi-day hike they also offer gear hauls and camp set-ups for you.
If you want to plan something more romantic, they can help you in setting up a beautiful picnic with a view.
Lunch at the Naughty Fox
The Naughty Fox was definitively one of our favorite places when we visited Catalina Island. The restaurant, however, is relatively small so make sure to stop by to check their availability or make a reservation. If you are staying in the Bellance Hotel, the front desk knows the restaurant and can help you make a reservation.
Tour the Casino
Probably the most unique structure on the Island, the Casino is definitively worth a visit. If you have the time, we recommend the long tour (about 2 hours). This gives you not only more time to enjoy the Casino but you’ll also learn more about its history and explore different parts of the building.
Check the times for the tour here.
Relax at the Beach or Explore Avalon
From the Casino it’s only a short walk to Descanso Beach. After an exciting day, take some time to wind down and relax at the Descanso Beach Club.
Take Some Sunset Photos
We found getting the best light for some good photos is when the sun disappears behind the mountain before sunset. You won’t see the sunset from Avalon, but the light conditions are great that time of the day.
If relaxing at the beach isn’t your thing, visit the Chimes Tower lookout around sunset. From Descanso Beach it’s only about a 10- to 15-minute walk to get there.
We didn’t find an official name of this viewpoint but it’s just past the Chimes Tower and only about 10 minutes from downtown Avalon. Find a description on how to get there in our complete Catalina Island Travel Guide.
Passing the Catalina Chimes Tower, you’ll find a little lookout with some great views of Avalon. We recommend walking since the roads are very narrow and there is no parking for your golf cart.
Dinner at the Lobster Trap
Anyone you ask for restaurant recommendations will mention the Lobster Trap at some point. But since it’s so popular it can get busy really quickly. The Lobster Trap does not take reservations, so head there and put your name down for a table.
Day 3 – Sunday
Breakfast at the Metropole
After an exciting Saturday, we’ll take it slower on Sunday. Visit Cafe Metropole for some delicious breakfast and fuel up for your Sunday activities.
Make Your Own Catalina Tile
Bring home a unique souvenir with the Catalina Tile Experience. Robin is amazing at explaining the history and tile making process of the tiles you see everywhere in Avalon and on Catalina Island. You’ll choose your pattern and colors for your Catalina tile, but since drying, burning and painting takes too long, the tiles will be sent home to you once finished.
Plan about 1.5 to 2 hours for this experience.
Explore or Relax in Avalon
Since this is your last day, you can either take it slow or continue exploring.
Explore: Lunch at the Brew House & Visit Viewpoints
Located on the beach promenade, the Brew House carries a good selection for craft beer as well as delicious flatbreads.
Renting a golf cart is a great way to get around Avalon. During the summer we recommend making a reservation. The staff will provide you with a map and directions. All viewpoints are fairly easy to get to and most viewpoints have some space to park your golf cart.
Most rentals are for 2 hours what gives you enough time to explore Avalon and its surrounding areas.
Estimated Time: 2 hours
Relax: Lunch at Descanso Beach Club & Relax at Descanso Beach
If you just want to relax, enjoy some drinks at Descanso Beach Club before heading back home.
Keep in mind that it’s about a 10- to 15-minute walk to get from Descanso Beach to the departure pier.
Need more information on Catalina Island?
View our extensive Catalina Island blog and trip itineraries for more information and recommendations.