A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family
A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family

A Guide to Catalina Island

We disappeared two weekends ago to Catalina Island to celebrate our anniversary. Guys, marriage is hard. Marriage needs nurturing and attention and lots of love. Do you know what is so reviving and so awesome for marriage? A weekend getaway. I wish I had discovered the importance of just ‘leaving all the crazy behind’ for a few days years ago because our little getaway was so great. Kevin and I have happily been together for 11 years now (married for seven) and we celebrated this particular anniversary in a bit more style than we have in the past.

Here’s our little guide to an awesome weekend on Catalina Island (should you find yourselves in the Southern California area any time soon and itching for a little isolation).

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

Part of what makes this particular trip magical is that you have to travel to get there. There are two ways to get to the island (which is just 20 miles off of the coast of Orange County), one is by helicopter and the other by ferry. 99% of travelers opt to board the latter making the boat trip part of the full experience. I was so excited to board! 20 miles takes about 90 minutes, so there is plenty of salty air to breath in while you scoot off into the horizon. If you have a weak stomach like me, you spend most of that time outdoors on the side of the deck watching for dolphins.

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

The island is populated by two small harbors, one on each end. Two Harbors caters primarily to campers while Avalon (on the south side) is by far the busiest and the one that most resembles a little European fishing village. I can’t get enough of the brightly colored buildings, the perfect little fishing pier and the rows and rows of sailboats protected by the little cove. There are two dozen or so hotels and guesthouses on the island to choose from, all are overpriced but most are fairly charming.

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

And what to do! There are so many activities to do on the island that you could easily fill a week with snorkeling, diving, paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking, parasailing, beach sunning, historical touring, golf playing and so on. I like to think of it as an excellent excuse to come back.

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

Kevin and I had two days to explore, and since we’ve each been to the island once before (separately) we had a rough idea of what we wanted to fill our time with. We spent our first evening on the island (after a 5pm ferry out of Dana Point) enjoying a special anniversary meal in the main strip of Avalon shops.

The next day we walked down to the cove adjacent to Avalon for a morning/early afternoon of relaxing at Descanso Beach Club. Sounds very fancy but it’s really just a nice and quaint stretch of beach (the only on the island that’s easily accessible against the water) full of cushioned lounge chairs that are rented out for the day. It’s nice to be able to have a landing spot for all of your beach gear as you come and go.

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A neat little secret is that if you are golf cart-less (the preferred method of travel around the island, there are actually very few cars), there’s a cute little trolley for $2 that makes regular routes from Descanso Beach to the botanical garden, into town and near the casino.

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

That afternoon we headed back into town and chose a restaurant over looking the bay to enjoy fresh fish for a late lunch. Tummy’s full, we walked down to the old casino (built in the 20′s for some serious party entertainment) to catch their evening flick. Plus ice cream.

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

The movie playing happened to be Transformers, I can’t say my first choice but the theatre was regal! I will be back for a full tour at some point. That night we played at the local arcade. Kev won the ultimate tournament but I may have come ahead in skeet ball, my favorite. To be continued! The plus side is that we won Liv a little princess crown.

The next morning we woke up fairly early and set out on a nice long canyon hike. The start of the trail led us through Catalina’s botanical gardens and passed William Wrigley’s (gum and business connoisseur who founded the island) memorial. The memorial was stunning – we had the grounds to ourselves and it was a little haunting in that I-can’t-believe-this-is-hidden-up-here sort of way.

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com   A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

The hike then led us upwards and onwards to several panoramic views of the island. Six or seven ish miles later we made it back to the tiny town. My buns were feeling that walk for at least a few days.

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

After a lunch of salads and World Cup, we jumped back on to the ferry and back to the mainland.

Tips for traveling to the island:

*Book your hotel at least two months in advance
*Reserve your spots on the ferry to and from two weeks in advance
*Reserve lounge chairs at Descanso beach the weekend before (plus any other tours you have in mind)
*Most restaurants don’t accept reservations so best to put your name in in the early evening and then enjoy the nightlife until your table is ready. There aren’t too many choices.
*If you plan on hiking, register for a permit online at the conservatory before you arrive or swing by the little building the morning of
*Relax, enjoy :).

A quick trip that was over in the blink of an eye, but so worth it. And so fun.

A Guide to Catalina Island | PepperDesignBlog.com

Good Eats: Watermelon, Blackberry, Feta & Mint Salad Skewer

Watermelon, Blackberry, Mint & Feta Salad Skewer (served with a balsamic reduction!) | PepperDesignBlog.com

To my state side friends, how was your 4th of July? Ours was so great! I love 3 day weekends so much it hurts. Sunday feels like such a bonus day – one where you can really rest, relax, play, do whatever you want. We took Liv and Taylor down to San Diego’s new waterfront park and had a great time watching them splash around. Talk about a great view too – you’re right across from the harbor and all of the sailboat moorings.

Here’s a recipe from T’s first birthday that I’ve been dying to share. When we were party planning, we knew that the weather that week was going to be on the warmer side, so one of my goals was to come up with appetizers/sides that might feel refreshing and sweet. When I think of summer, I think of: cold sliced watermelon, juicy blackberries, fresh mint (as in chilled mint lemonade or mint & lemon sorbet)… and this little salad-on-a-stick (would be equally delicious in an actual bowl) was born. Mid creation I added a balsamic reduction just because I think it makes it that much better). It’s like a sweet bit of ‘summer’ in one bite.

Watermelon, Feta, Blackberry & Mint Salad Skewer

Combine even sized chunks of watermelon, feta (best purchased in blocks for this recipe) and whole blackberries with mint leaves on a BBQ skewer (I cut mine down to size). In a small sauce pan, heat 1 cup of balsamic vinegar on medium and cook for about five minutes until it reduces by about 30% (we’re aiming for a thicker sauce that’s not quite syrup), let cool. Line skewers up on a platter and drizzle with balsamic reduction (hint: aim for that ever absorbent feta).

Watermelon, Blackberry, Mint & Feta Salad Skewer (served with a balsamic reduction!) | PepperDesignBlog.com

Actually, the colors are very patriotic, no? I’m sharing this recipe just a few days too late. I think that this little skewer might make a killer cocktail accompaniment as a fancy piece of garnish as well. Perhaps a watermelon mojito? Yum. Enjoy your Monday and welcome back from the weekend!

More of Taylor’s first birthday over here, and more delicious recipes stockpiled and waiting right here.

Wardrobe Style Board: A Casual 4th of July

Wardrobe Style Board: 4th of July Comfy Casual | PepperDesignBlog.com

denim jacket | kiwi striped print dress (50% off) | large straw tote | Essie ‘Brooch the Subject’ nail polish | Super Duper tortoise sunglasses | positano sandals

Happy, happy Independence Day! Enjoy your time with your family and friends. Extra sunscreen, extra relaxing, extra iced tea and libations. xo

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