Things to Do on Catalina Island

Golf: Miniature Golf Course

Play 18 Holes at Catalina Island's Renowned Golf Gardens

Miniature golf, a recreational phenomenon that has delighted Americans for almost a century, may be one of the best, most wholesome, most delightful activities ever created for people of all ages, families and friends alike.

Played with putters on a series of interconnected, fancifully designed holes, the game is easy enough for even preschool kids to play and enjoy, yet offers sufficient challenges to let even dedicated "real" golfers hone the essential skills demanded on the green.

Catalina, all-around versatile resort island that it is, naturally has its own award-winning miniature golf course: Golf Gardens, an idyllic 18-hole course just half a block from the beach and Avalon Harbor. Open since 1973, the course has won acclaim from mini-golf aficionados around the world, and is popular with adults, teens, and kids alike.

A major element of the appeal to be found in this Catalina miniature golf course is a refreshing lack of the gimmickry that makes so many courses today feel like a feeble response to the boom of video games. Instead, it dedicates itself to "ingenious challenges to the use of kinetic energy," such as a loop-the-loop and banked turns, with highlights including:

  • A concentric maze (Hole 6)
  • A multilevel hole (Hole 10) starting out with 4 target holes that drop you to different, sometimes unexpected levels
  • A challenging uphill slope (Hole 12).

Several of the holes hold out the possibility–just the possibility, mind you–of a hole in one. Par for the course is 51, and the official record for the course is 41.

The challenges offered by each hole, however, are only part of the pleasures offered by Golf Gardens. As its name suggests, the course is set on beautifully manicured grounds, measuring a total of one acre. Tall trees arch overhead, providing welcome shade on hot summer days to complement the cool breezes wafting in from the harbor. Palms and other lush plants line the pathways, making every step feel like a tour through an enchanted oasis. Friendly cats and dogs are likely to greet you at the ticket counter, making your visit all the more memorable.

So round up the kids–or, if family isn't part of the picture yet, invite your friend or your honey–and head for Catalina's widely renowned miniature golf course. You'll pass a very pleasant couple of hours, and may be more likely to leave feeling as if you have the skills of a Tiger than you would from a full-sized golf course!

Visiting Golf Gardens
Golf Gardens is located at 10 Island Plaza, just half a block inland from North Beach and the Green Pier. Weather permitting, the course is open everyday, and evenings during the summer. Hours vary. Call 310-510-1200 for further information.

Prices per round are $7 per adult, $4 for children aged 8 years old and under, and clubs and balls are provided. There is no need to reserve your game in advance; but bear in mind that the course can sometimes get crowded during peak tourist season, and it is always good etiquette to let faster golf parties behind you to play through and pass you if you want to proceed at a more leisurely pace–or have less skilled or dawdling youngsters with you.

Wear loose, cool, comfortable clothing and shoes for your miniature golf game. While snack shops and markets are all around you in Avalon, it's a good idea to bring along a small bottle of cold water for each member in your miniature golf party. That way, there'll be no need for a delay of the game if someone gets thirsty!

Time to Allow: One hour.
Reservations are not required.
Prices and availability are subject to change.