Catalina, one of California's Channel Islands, lies offshore about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Los Angeles. The island's distinctive landscape—a mix of mountains, canyons, beaches and coves—is mostly undeveloped outside the charming port town of Avalon. Here you'll find a beach community with a Mediterranean flair reminiscent of a quieter time, and one that seems far from the traffic and bustle of Los Angeles. Sailboats bob in crystal-clear waters in the crescent-shaped bay, and the main street is lined with boutiques and restaurants in brightly painted bungalows.
You can easily explore Avalon in a few hours, as nearly everything is concentrated in a few blocks. That leaves the afternoon for exploring the rest of the island. Purchased in 1919 by William Wrigley, Jr., the chewing-gum magnate, Santa Catalina Island (to use its full name) once served as the spring training ground for the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Today most of the island is owned by the Catalina Island Conservancy, which works hard to preserve its flora and fauna, from Catalina Island foxes to the bald eagles flying overhead and the schools of bright orange Garibaldi fish swimming in the bay.