What you should know before you take your kids to Catalina Island
Catalina Island isn’t just about the destination; it’s about the journey, especially when you’re traveling with kids. So, first things first, what time of year is best for a family trip to the island? To start, ask yourself: crowds or no crowds? Summer is peak travel time as kids pack the beaches, so if your kiddos don’t mind longer wait times at restaurants and attractions, then this is your time. If crowds aren’t your jam, you might want to consider visiting during the shoulder seasons, like spring and fall. INSIDER TIP ALERT: Early fall really is a magical time if you can get a weekend away, and here is why. In September/October, the ocean is at its warmest for the entire year, and all water activities are still open. So, if you want to skip the crowds of summer but still want summer-like conditions, fall is where it’s at. An extra bonus about fall… the prices are cheaper for hotels/activities, and the islanders are more relaxed and friendly. The winter season is considered the off-season in Avalon, as the weather is cooler, and most ocean activities have quieted for the year. If you go to Catalina during this time, you will have the place to yourself, and prices are even lower. You can shift your kids’ activities to on-land activities like golf cart tours, hiking adventures, zip-lining, and ropes courses. There is lots to do year-round on the island.
When it comes to accommodations, look for family-friendly options near kid-approved activities. This not only makes your life easier but also ensures your little explorers are never far from the action. Here are some of our favorites: If you don’t mind a little hike or shuttle ride up the hill, the Catalina Canyon Hotel has a restaurant on-site and is one of the only hotels with a pool/jacuzzi. Kind of a kid necessity for a good time, right? If being in town is more important to you, then pick one of the hotels right on the beach. Our favorites are… The Vista Del Mar, Pavilion Hotel, Atwater Hotel, and the Bellanca Hotel. All have recently been renovated and are family friendly. There are lots of great hotels on the island, but most are tucked away with a little walk to the beach. When I think of these hotels, I think more for couples than families, but shop around and see if you find something that fits your needs.
Navigating Catalina Island with Kids:
When you’ve got excited kiddos in tow, making sure your primary travel day is smooth is important as it can set the tone for the trip. Trust me, a smooth ride makes everyone happy. There are 2 passenger ferries heading to the island daily with several roundtrips. You should be able to find a time that works best for your family. You will continue to have cell service on the boat ride for about 40 of the 65-minute trip, so if devices help younger guys stay happy, you are semi-covered. In the summer, make sure to book early if you have a bigger group. Once on the island, everything is walkable, and strollers and bikes are welcome. Taxis are also available if you need assistance with luggage or elderly parents. Check our recent blog to get more information about the Passenger Ferries in Catalina Island.
Kid-Friendly Adventures and Activities
Now, let’s dive into the heart of your family fun. Did you say, Sand?
One of the great things about the beaches inside the Bay of Avalon is they don’t have waves and stay shallow for a way out, making younger swimmers feel safe. Step Beach, which is the last of the Avalon Bay beaches before the walk to the casino, is great for a place to just walk into the water. The stairs have a handrail making things simple for families with young kids. Parents have a safe lookout as the beach sits higher than the water. LA County lifeguards stand watch above the stairs making parents and swimmers feel safe. If a beach resort is more your speed, head to Descanso Beach just past the casino, where you will find Cabanas and kayak rentals. With music and an outdoor restaurant, there will be no bored or hangry kids. All of Catalina’s beaches are perfect for family fun.
The blue Pacific Ocean waters make for fantastic snorkeling, so if your kids are a bit older and confident in the water, rent some gear and go explore the underwater world. INSIDER TIP: The bright orange fish are Garibaldi, the official fish of California. It’s a protected and much-loved species, so go check it out.
Self-guided golf cart tour:
If you are looking to get up and see the beautiful views overlooking Avalon harbor, which we highly recommend, consider renting a golf cart and follow the map they provide. When your crew is tired, this is the perfect family activity as there is no walking. Golf carts seat up to 7 passengers so there is room for everyone. Check them out here for more info! Catalina Island Golf Cart
A newer activity to the island can be found in the Canyon of Descanso beach. This really is so fun and scenic. The Zip line has 4 zips with varying degrees of length and height making it a thrill for all ages. If your budget allows, check out zip-lining on the island. Click here for more info! Catalina Zip Line Tour | Catalina Tours
Unwinding and Relaxation:
Most people think massage therapy is only for adults, but massage for families is now officially on the map. With massages as short as 30 min and rooms set up for 2, parents can get massages with their kids as young as 8 years old. Females are paired with female therapists to create a comfortable environment for everyone. Located in the downtown area of Avalon and just a ½ block from the beach. Walk-ins welcome or call 310-510-8920 for an appointment. Book now HERE!
In a nutshell, Catalina Island offers endless fun for both kids and parents. Its unique blend of adventure and relaxation makes it an ideal destination for families seeking a getaway that caters to everyone’s needs. So, whether you’re building sandcastles on sandy beaches, embarking on a golf cart tour, or just unwinding at the Catalina Sea Spa, Catalina Island delivers on all fronts. Trust me; you will never hear “Mom, I’m bored.” It’s a place where adventure meets relaxation, making it the perfect backdrop for your family’s next unforgettable vacation.”