Explore: Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden
An Oasis of Catalina Island Plant Life and Spectacular Views
If you feel the urge to escape from the bustle and merriment of downtown Avalon, but have limited time to do so, a welcome break awaits you just a mile and a half from the water's edge. Tucked into the narrow canyon, the 37.85-acre garden invites contemplative strolls, fascinating studies of native plants, and breathtaking views.
The site endures as a fitting tribute to William Wrigley Jr. (1861-1932), the Chicago chewing gum magnate who championed development of Catalina as an island retreat everyone could enjoy, and to his wife Ada Foote Wrigley, who spearheaded efforts to create the gardens.
Soon after William Wrigley's death, work began at the head of the canyon on the stately 130-foot tall Spanish-style memorial structure, completed in 1934. Its walls were built from reinforced concrete into which crushed island stones were incorporated, and then the surface was sandblasted to showcase the local materials. The blue flagstone that paves the ramps and spacious terraces was quarried from Little Harbor on Catalina's western coast. Adorning the memorial are red roof tiles and dazzling glazed decorative tiles handmade at the famed Catalina Pottery, which operated on the island from 1927 to 1937.
Mrs. Wrigley began work on the garden in 1935 with a collection of desert plants, and the grounds developed down through with additions of flora from around the world. Today, however, the botanic garden's primary focus is on plants endemic–that is, native and found nowhere else in the world–to the islands off of California's coast. In particular, the garden highlights six plants now naturally exclusive to this particular island alone: the Catalina Ironwood tree; the very rare Catalina Mahogany shrub; St. Catherine's Lace, a flowering shrub that is white in spring and russet-hued in autumn; Catalina Manzanita, a shrub with purplish-red fruit and bark; the Catalina Live-Forever, a succulent you'll spot near the Memorial; and Catalina Bedstraw, a perennial herb.
Before You Go
The Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden is easy to reach. You can get there on foot in just 30 to 45 minutes by walking up Avalon Canyon Road, or even faster by bicycle; and, if you're feeling weary or are pressed for time, you can get there in a matter of minutes via a golf cart, with a good visit possible well within the time frame of most rentals. Better still, take either of the two lines of the Avalon Trolley, which will bring you here from downtown Avalon, The Casino, or Pebbly Beach for just $1 per person each way.
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, and bring along a hat to ward off sunburn and sunglasses to shield your eyes. Sunscreen is a good idea, too, since you'll be outdoors for most of the visit. Bring a water bottle for each person. And don't forget your camera to capture close-ups of the plants or take in the panoramic views.
When and How Long to Visit
The Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with admission prices of $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and veterans (with ID), $3 children (age 5-12) and students with ID, children under 5 and active military and their families are free. You'll find beauty there at all times of year. If possible, plan your visit for the earlier or later parts of the day, and try to avoid the hottest midday hours, especially in summertime.
In general, allow yourself a good hour to tour the botanic gardens and to take in the view from the observation platform 80 feet below the top of the Wrigley Memorial tower. If you're a real fan of gardens, give yourself at least two hours to study the plant life more closely. But don't hesitate to go even if you're pressed for time; no more than a half-hour visit will allow you enough time to get an overall impression of the beautiful grounds and to climb the Memorial to admire the amazing view of Avalon Harbor.
Time to Allow: One to two hours.
Reservations are not required.
Prices and availability are subject to change.