Top 5 Reasons to Plan a Weekend Getaway to Catalina Island | Travel Tips for Families

Have you been dreaming lately about an island getaway? Why dream when you can make it a reality? All you have to do is look across our waters. On the clearest skies, you will see Catalina Island. It’s so close that you can get there in the morning and be back by night. Here are my top 5 reasons why you should plan a visit:

  1. You’ll save money on plane tickets.
  2. Lots of ways to get there. (By water out of San Pedro, Long Beach, Newport Beach, and Dana Point OR by air).
  3. Close enough to go for a day trip or weekend getaway and be back at work on Monday.
  4. Lots of activities for all ages.
  5. Environmental-friendly. Everything in town is walking distance and they use mostly golf carts to reduce pollution on the island. You’ll get lots of island fresh air.  

Travel Tips:

  • Arrive early. You’ll need time to find parking and check-in. The lines are usually long and you’ll want a good spot for you and your family. 
  • Be flexible. Tour schedules may change due to weather. Call ahead.
  • Everything in town is in walking distance. You won’t need a car but you will want comfortable walking shoes.
  • Large Public Restrooms are centrally located at the Green Pier.
  • They have two neighborhood grocery stores by Vons. You can get all the supplies you may have forgotten. We also stopped to get ice cream here at one point.
  • You can store your luggage at the port after you check out. They charge per luggage depending on size. (S: $2.50, M:$3.50, L: $4.50)
  • Overnight Parking is about $45 or $38 with validation. There will be about a 15-30 minute wait. 

Sample Itinerary

Here’s a sample weekend itinerary for a family with small children out of Newport Beach!


  • 8:00am*  Arrive in Newport Beach: find parking, check-in, and line-up to board with Catalina Flyer.  (Note: there are two lines so make sure you’re in the right line to check-in)
  • 9:00am     Depart Newport Beach
  • 10:15am   Arrive in Avalon
  • 10:30am   Check into hotel or vacation rental; we stayed at one of the properties managed by Catalina Island Vacation Rentals (CIVR). 
  • 11:00am   Brunch (Hint: Lobster Trap is right across the way from Golf Gardens)
  • 12:30pm   Nap Time or 1st Activity: Golf Gardens Miniature Golf.
  • 3:00pm     2nd Activity: Nautilus Semi-Submarine Tour.
  • 5:00pm     Dinner


  • 10am         Checkout
  • 10:30 am   Store Luggage
  • 11:00 am   Brunch
  • 1:00 pm     Activity #3: Golf Cart Scenic Tour (1-2 hours).  They have two locations.
  • 3:30 pm     Head back to dock to get luggage, change, line-up to board.
  • 4:30 pm*    Leave back to Newport Beach; Arrived around 5:15pm.
    *This time will vary depending on which port you are leaving out of. You’ll want to be in that area an hour before departure.

Thanks, Catalina Island, for a picture perfect weekend getaway! We really enjoyed all the family activities, the island fresh air, all the beautiful views, and the charm of your town. There’s not much of a night life, but we had plenty to do and wanted to rest up for the following day. We want to go back to see more and try all that the island has to offer. If you would like to see a full list of activities, please visit Catalina Island Visitor Center located near the foot of the Green Pleasure Pier or visit their website at


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