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  • Writer's pictureJefferson Graham

Catalina Island Photowalk

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

I’ve always been a huge of Catalina Island, the 26-mile-from-Los Angeles Riviera that’s great for long walks, back-country exploring and of course, photowalking.

And I’m thrilled for the people who live there that Apple decided to put the island on the map this year, as the face of macOS Catalina, the new name for the yearly operating system upgrade Apple releases for computers. Catalina joins Yosemite, El Capitan and other California classics with this honor.

This means that every time someone with a new Mac (or updated machine) opens their computer from 2019-2020, they’ll see a beautiful photo of the island on their home screen.

This inspired me recently to hop a boat to Catalina recently and spend some time Photowalking, in search of the best photo spots.

I walked and walked and walked, which is a good thing, got in one great sunrise, a memorable sunset and a quasi sunset that was actually the best of the bunch. Take a look at the video, episode #46 of the latest in the Photowalks series, to get what I mean by that.

I also have a little tour for you. The beauty of the island is that it’s so walkable. My #Photowalk below will take you from one end of town to the other, on foot. The extras are optional, and you could get there via golf cart, taxi, bus or tour.


Your Photowalk will begin at the boat terminal. Leave there and walk into town.


Catalina Conservancy, 708 Crescent Avenue. Here is where you can pick up some brochures about the island, hiking and biking permits in the back country and get a bite to eat the new Toyon cafe.

—Green Pleasure Pier. The center of town, home to fishing, boat rentals and such.

—Catalina Museum, 217 Metropole. For checking out the unique history of the island, and William Wrigley’s role in developing it.

—Via Casino. The arched walkway that will lead you to:

—Casino, 1 Casino Way. The jewel of the island, the historic 1929 masterpiece that sits majestically on the left side of Avalon.

—Descanso Beach Club, 1st Catherine Way. On the other side of the casino, a fun outdoor eatery and bar with a killer view of the water.

—Chime Tower, 199 Chimes Tower Road. You’ll have to climb up a hill for this, but it’s worth it, to catch the harbor shot.

—Inn at Mt. Ada, 398 Wrigley Avenue. The quintessential shot of the harbor and casino, as seen on many a local TV newscast. Also a big uphill climb, but you can always catch a cab if you’re feeling lazy.

‚—Wrigley Botanical Garden, 1402 Avalon Canyon Road. Another great walk, but a flat one, to a Wrigley memorial and garden.

—Airport in the Sky, Airport Road. For this you’ll need a bus ride, to the top of the island, where little planes land. The Airport has a great restaurant with another killer view, and local Bison have been known to graze up here.

Where to stay: 

Hotels aren’t cheap, but the Catalina Hotel and Seaview Village are on the lower end, the Hotel Atwater has recently had a major upgrade, looks like a totally different place (who knew a 100 year old hotel could be so snazzy?) and couldn’t be in a more convenient spot right in the heart of town.

I’ve always been a fan of the Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel, which closed in 2015, got bought and has been in the midst of a major remodel. It’s slated to reopen soon. What I liked about it was that it was high up the hill, near the Chimes Tower, and away from the action, with a killer view overlooking the harbor. On the other side of town is the Inn at Mt. Ada, the most expensive hotel in town, the old William Wrigley mansion that’s now a $400-$500 a night bed and breakfast. (It comes with lots of food and free use of a golf cart, by the way.) Carts start at $50 an hour in Avalon.

(The Atwater lobby, artwork and harp shown below.)

Where to eat:

I’m not a foodie, but love the experience at the Descanso Beach Club, a very Hawaii like open air eatery on the other side of the casino. (That’s my cheeseburger from my Descanso seat, with the Casino in the background.) In the heart of town, Mi Casita has terrific Mexican food, Antonio’s Pizza has two locations and is a long time fixture. For the experience, it’s hard to top the DC3 restaurant at the Airport in the Sky. It’s a trek to get up there, but what a view. And a grilled cheese sandwich is only $4.

Photo rules:

To fly a drone, you’ll need a permit from the city of Avalon or Catalina Conservancy.

Best time to visit: 

Know that the cruise shops dock on Mondays and Tuesdays and passengers are all over town for much of the day. I’ll always take a Wednesday or Thursday, thanks.

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