catalina island casino

Photo: Courtesy Santa Catalina Resort Services

Catalina Casino

Catalina Island

Conservation meets luxury off the coast of LA

FIRST-TIME ESSENTIAL  On the four-hour Land and Sea Tour, you’ll explore Catalina’s life aquatic and terrestrial, spotting eagles, bison, leopard sharks, and dolphins as you traverse the island. TIP: Upgrade your tour to include a stint in an open-air jeep with one of Catalina Island Conservancy’s naturalists. afishinados.com

MAXIMUM EXPOSURE  Given the island’s deep history of conservation, one of the best places to soak up the sun (and take in the views) here is in the 38 acres of plant-laden grounds of the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Gardens, where the temperate marine climate allows native plants like Catalina ironwood and St. Catherine’s lace to thrive. catalinaconservancy.org

RETAIL THERAPY  New Orleans may be a far piece from Catalina, but you wouldn’t know it amid the charming Metropole Market Place, a French Quarter–inspired cobblestone district lined with boutiques, galleries, souvenir shops, and an arcade. hotel-metropole.com/market-place

bison

Photo: Courtesy iStock. Image #1696704

Catalina bison, rumored to have been imported originally for The Vanishing American, a 1924 silent ?lm based on a Zane Grey book.

EAT THIS  Sink your teeth into the juicy buffalo burger topped with smoked cheddar cheese, tomato aioli, and arugula at the Avalon Grille, a two-year-old beachside eatery where cushy wicker chairs just might inspire a postmeal nap. 310-510-7494

REST YOUR HEAD  Hotel Vista Del Mar’s immaculate rooms and Jacuzzi tubs would feel indulgent anywhere, but with balconies looking out over Avalon’s clear-blue, boat-dotted harbor, you’ll feel positively spoiled rotten. hotelvistadelmar.com, from $145

  • 5 flights from PDX daily
  • 64 average high temp in February
  • 50 miles of protected beaches

WHAT YOU DIDN’T DO LAST TIME  One of the island’s best-kept secrets is Two Harbors. This isolated inlet has some of the best snorkeling and kayaking on Catalina. Rough it at a walk-in campground or cozy up at the Banning House Lodge, a Craftsman-style B&B. visitcatalinaisland.com/twoharbors

FOR LOVERS  Built in 1929 and restored in 2011, the Catalina Casino is a haven of Italian-inspired art deco style. Time-warp with a stroll down the brick boardwalk to catch a first-run move in the Casino’s ornate theater. 310-510-7400