Things to Do on Catalina Island

Tours: Walking Avalon Tours

Savoring the Pleasures of Avalon on Foot

Some local quipsters are fond of remarking that the main activity in the city of Avalon is walking. While that statement is patently inaccurate–just consider all the opportunities for recreational activities–there is a germ of truth in it, consider the simple fact that the town measures just one square mile, mostly flat and an absolute pleasure to stroll through.

But the simple delights of strolling in Avalon take on an aspect of even deeper pleasure when combined with a guided tour that excites the mind and inspires the soul. Within its tidy confines, the town offers visitors a satisfying array of walking tours designed to appeal to many different interests, whether you're curious about the settlement's history, its architecture, arts and culture, nature, or just the way people live in Avalon.

The Avalon Casino Walking Tour covers more than seven decades of Catalina history, from the time the magnificent Art Deco building was constructed by William Wrigley Jr. in the late 1920s as a social gathering spot and entertainment venue. You'll see the beautiful Avalon Theatre, then walk up gentle ramps to the top floor to behold the Avalon Ballroom, the world's largest circular dance floor, where top big bands once played and where live music and dance still beckon visitors.

From the Catalina Island Museum, on the ground floor of the Casino, you can also embark on the twice-weekly Tile Walking Tour. This expertly guided tour will lead you through town past the prime examples of ceramic tile installations made from the renowned creations of the Catalina Pottery, which was in operation on the island from 1927 to 1937, during which time it created colorful hand-painted glazed tiles inspired by the island's own natural beauty.

Want to take in some nature? While you can visit and explore the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden on your own at the top of Avalon Canyon Road, you can also sign up for a tour that includes a guided walk through the site, complete with expert commentary that will give you an appreciation all the deeper of the plantings on display. Or get a closer look at human nature, Catalina style, with a guided walking tour of the village that includes a stop at the home (now a hotel) built by Western novelist Zane Grey with materials salvaged from two shipwrecks.

Or are you more of the maverick sort, who prefers to be your own guide? Then the local Chamber of Commerce must have had you in mind when it created its latest public art installation of giant artist-elaborated eagle sculptures (a follow-up to the very popular Catalina buffalo exhibit, itself inspired by the famed cow sculpture exhibits of Chicago, New York, and farther-flung places). Pick up a free walking tour map for this exhibit at the Green Pier and other places around town, and start exploring Avalon on foot!

Planning an Avalon Walking Tour
Walking tours in Avalon are conducted by a number of different organizations and companies, and brochures and information about them are widely available.

  • Avalon Casino Walking Tour. No reservations are required. Tours depart regularly during daytime hours from the Tour Plaza in the center of town, or from the Avalon Casino box office at 1 Casino Way.
  • Tile Walking Tour. Book a spot in advance for this popular twice-weekly walking tour, which departs from the Catalina Island Museum at 2 p.m. every Wednesday and Saturday. Contact the museum at 310-510-2414.
  • Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Gardens. No reservations are needed for guided tours, which depart from Tour Plaza.
  • Village Walking Tour. Reserve several days in advance for this walking tour from Catalina Adventure Tours, 310-510-2888. Tours depart from the Cabrillo Mole at the southeastern corner of the harbor.

Whichever walking tour you take, wear loose, comfortable clothing and, most importantly, comfortable but sturdy shoes.

Time to Allow: Two hours.
Reservations are suggested.
Prices and availability are subject to change.