Here are some suggestions that “Sam” of the Catalina Chamber of Commerce, a mom of two young ones, helped us compile:
There are two parks/playgrounds that are perfect for kids 1-6 years old right in the downtown vicinity, near the boat.
The first is near the basketball courts and has a secure fencing around it. It’s not too big, but very safe and fun. There are usually other kids around to play with as well!
The second is in the corner near the Pancake Cottage and golf cart rental (near the Holly Hill House). There is a sand area, a water fountain, a picnic table and grills.
Another park/playground is across from our City Hall and Fire Station, about a ten minute walk from the beach. It also has playground equipment, a water fountain, picnic tables and grills.
Glass Bottom Boat and/or Semi-Submersible Submarine
These 45-minute tours go through the Lovers Cove marine preserve and we recommend them to anyone with children, even babies! They can see the colors of the kelp and the fish, and are instantly excited. The 45-minutes is a perfect amount of time for even the wildest of children. If you are flexible with times, you can get a 50% discount coupon from the Santa Catalina Island Company’s Passport book (these are available while supplies last at the Discovery Tours office on the Green Pier). The discount is for tours after 3pm.
Kayaking (or Snorkeling) with frozen peas
If you have interest in getting some exercise and getting on or in the water, we suggest buying a bag of frozen peas from Vons Express then head over to Wet Spot Rentals (near the boat terminal you arrived to). You can sit with the child in your lap and a short paddle away is Lovers Cove, where you can drop the frozen peas in the water and watch as the fish swarm around you. The peas almost glow an electric green color and are easy to see and fun to watch! For the braver souls with slightly older children, grab some snorkeling gear and get IN the water from the access stairs at Lovers Cove.
A Fun and Chaotic Game of Mini-Golf
Head to the mini-golf on Sumner Avenue and have some fun! You can play repeated rounds after your first full session if you don’t play your ball on the final hole (otherwise it takes it and you’re done). If you’re not a stickler for the rules, allow the kids to just keep tapping the ball until it finally goes in – the course is fun! It’s also exciting to sometimes just drop the ball in different holes to see where it comes out… they get so happy when the ball comes out where they’ve guessed it would!
Ride the Garibaldi Bus or Take a Tour of the Interior
There is an electric bus, the Garibaldi, that circles the town every twenty minutes. Fare is free for age five and under and just $1 for everyone else. Sometimes a ride in a new vehicle is exciting for kids.
Tours of the interior start at about $45 and up and range in length (from 2-4 hours).On these tours there is a good chance of seeing bison and, depending how long attention spans hold out, it’s a blast to show the kids the Airport In The Sky, where all of the interior tours stop briefly. There are snacks and bathrooms available there, and a rustic gift shop if you want souvenirs.
Hang out at Descanso Beach Club
Bring some beach chairs (or rent some of ours)and hang out at the outdoor beach club. Bring a bucket, make some castles and perhaps even mermaids and mermen. There is an outdoor bar and restaurant where YOU can be served adult cocktails and all can order yummy beach fare no matter where you sit on the beach (they’ll bring it right to you). There are also kayak, stand up paddle board and tube/raft rentals there… even an ice cream shop with unique delicious flavors!
Rent a Golf Cart
Get a feel of our island living by renting a golf cart. There are three locations to rent, all the same price. One is closest to the boat, across from the basketball courts; one is next to the park by Pancake Cottage; the other is at the end of Metropole Street, which is two streets over (closest to the Casino Building) from the pier. They have kid seats available and provide a map to take a self-guided tour around Avalon.
Where to Eat
Antonio’s Cabaret is pretty kid-friendly – they even let you throw peanut shells on the floor after eating the peanuts (please avoid if anyone in your party has peanut allergies). The Three Palms Arcade has yummy food (and a bar for the adults) and you may just get sucked into a fun game of SkeeBall, air hockey or mini-bowling. The Bluewater Avalon is also a favorite because its one of the healthiest options for kiddos in town. Each meal comes with fresh fruit and carrot sticks, and the selections range from a little kids burger to grilled fish or chicken sticks (yum).
Go Take a Hike
Check out the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Gardens. The entrance fee is $7 for adults but goes towards helping our nature preserve stay just that, preserved. There are fantastic opportunities there for pictures and our friend Sam’s 3-year old did the Garden-to-Sky hike with minimal griping. If the kids don’t feel up to hiking at least visit the mausoleum, where William Wrigley was originally laid to rest (he no longer presides there). The tile work is beyond words and is a fabulous location for some epic photos.
Twilight Walk … Going On a Deer Hunt
An exploratory walk around town at about twilight can result in some memorable sightings. Deer tend to come out at this time and can usually be spotted in a few tried and true locations: 1) on Lower Terrace Road as you walk up towards the pet cemetery. You’ll usually see deer between town and the pet cemetery, which is sweet to walk around in as well; 2) on the walk past the Descanso Beach club up towards Hamilton Cove; 3) on a walk up towards the golf club. Take as many pictures as you like, but please do not feed the deer.