A Family Getaway to Catalina Island

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This post is all about fun things to do in Catalina with kids and as it turns out, there are a lot!  My family and I spent Mother’s Day weekend on this cute little island and we had the time of our lives.

The trip was hosted by Catalina Island Vacation Rentals as a result of a blogger contest I won, which included a two-night stay at one of their properties as well as a ride to and from on the Catalina Flyer for our family.  Happy Mother’s Day to ME!

Getting to Catalina Island

We took the morning ferry on Saturday to Catalina from Newport Beach on the Catalina Flyer. The ride over took about one hour and 15 minutes. The ferry ride was lots of fun and was right on time. You can visit their website for a $10 off coupon for an adult round-trip ticket through 12/8/13.

Where to Stay

Catalina Island Vacation Rentals has a large selection of privately owned cottages, houses and condos available for rent in Avalon. We stayed in Bahia Vista A10 and loved it. With two separate bedrooms, 2.5 baths and a kitchen, it was huge for our family of four.

Our favorite part about staying in our condo was our unit was directly across from the swimming pool which made it super convenient to run back and forth.

The unit is dated and had older decor, but was very clean and comfortable. We also enjoyed staying within walking distance to the little downtown, which was approximately 3 long blocks and a comfortable 10 minute walk.

Where to Eat in Catalina with Kids 

There were two favorite spots I wanted to mention that were great for dining with the kiddos. The first was Antonio’s Pizzeria & Cabaret. We scored with a waterfront table looking out at the docked boats and Casino. Pizza was good and service was even better.

The second one is Luau Larry’s where I had the best cheeseburger and onion rings of my entire life.  Now, beware, Luau Larry’s can be known to get rowdy due to their world famous drinks, therefore you have to be selective with the time you go. We went for lunch on Mother’s Day when it was very quiet. Cheeseburger in paradise.

Things to Do in Catalina with Kids 

1. Rent a golf cart and explore the island 

Renting a golf cart is a hands down a MUST!

You can rent them at a number of places in town and then take off on your own to explore. We had a buy two hours, get one free deal, and spent just about 3 hours total on our tour.

We packed our Beacon Audio wireless speaker, put on my daughter’s playlist of music and all of us were grinning from ear to ear as we rocked out on our golf cart adventure through the hills of Catalina. Loved it!


You can take your cart up to Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Garden and then check out the Zip Line Eco Tour on your route.  My girls loved pulling over to the side of the road to watch the zip liners. We just happened to get there right as the bus of zip liners was arriving for their first run.

My oldest, a total daredevil, wanted to go so badly. Maybe next trip I will build up the courage to go with her!

Towards the end of our tour we stopped off at Descanso Beach Club ~ amazing. For a fee you can rent these killer beach chairs and umbrellas and get service on the sand. “Waiter, another umbrella drink please!” Heaven!

There is also a great restaurant on the beach, with fun music and all outdoor seating.  We didn’t eat there, but I would suggest checking it out if you go. Very fun atmosphere.

 2. Go to the Beach 

There is a little beach for kids in the main town, to the left of the pier where swimming is allowed. My oldest REALLY wanted to try snorkeling, which she did, but didn’t see anything.

There is also another beach for kids at Descanso Beach.

One thing we did not realize is that the beaches are ROCKY, and it is not like visiting a beach in So Cal. Prepare your kiddos for this fact if they are expecting to run in and out of the water like they do at home.

3. Take in a Game of Miniature Golf 

This was our first time playing miniature golf as a family and it was SO MUCH FUN!  My oldest daughter, almost 7, said it was her favorite thing she did in Catalina. My youngest, almost 4, mostly ran round and dropped the balls in the hole by hand, but we all equally had a great time. The course is right in the middle of town.

Tips on Visiting Catalina Island with Kids 

Pack warm clothes for the ferry ride. If your kids want to ride up top on the open seas like mine did, it is very cold and windy.  Even on a hot day, once we got out on the ocean, it was really cold.

Bring crocs or some sort of water shoes if your kids like to go in the water for the rocky beaches.

Seriously consider renting a house or condo with a swimming pool and kitchen for the kids. Staying at the Catalina Island Vacation Rentals condo unit made it feel like a home away from home.  We were able to go to the market and stock up on snacks for the kids and having a swimming pool to me is a HUGE plus.

If you have little ones, bring your stroller or jogger with you! Even though my girls are older, they still doubled up and rode on the jogger when we went out to dinner. After a long day of swimming and sightseeing, their legs were tired. The jogger also came in handy for hauling our luggage from the ferry to our condo.

Any more tips for visiting Catalina Island with kids? Do share! Thanks Catalina Island Vacation Rentals for the amazing stay!

5 Comments

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5
  1. 1

    Great post. Thanks so much for sharing. It looks like you all had a fantastic time!

    • 2
      jen says:

      We truly did! Our kids loved it and we will definitely be back!

  2. 3
    Meesh says:

    We love Catalina! I highly recommend the Casino tour. It is not very expensive and it is fairly short, but it is an amazing opportunity to see the inside of the casino. The movie theatre ceiling is amazing and the view from the balcony is awesome. The ballroom dance floor is just spectacular- it is HUGE! Some of the other tours are also great, the inland tour is fun, these take a long time (3-5 hours) though. My 4 kids quite enjoyed it though. We went with a small company & it ended up being just us. The driver has lived in Avalon his whole life & gave an interesting perspective. (His name was Chip but I don’t remember the tour co. Name. It was a small shack near the boat landing).

  3. 4
    Nerissa says:

    What was it like getting over to the island with luggage? I have 3 young kids and I envision a luggage nightmare. Also, did you have to bring a booster seat for the golf cart?

  4. 5
    jen says:

    Nerissa – There is a place to put your luggage when you get on the boat, but I would still pack light! And bring bags with wheels if possible. The golf cart place provided a booster for us from what I remember. We for sure didn’t bring them. Have fun!

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