What to Do on a Catalina Island Day Trip

We are lucky to have a place like California as part of our United States. If you're looking for a family-friendly good time look no further than this darling island off the California coast. From the best hikes in Catalina to the most delicious ice-cream and fun history, we guarantee you will love it all. Plus, you can do a lot of it on a day trip with kids.


what to do catalina island


Where is Catalina Island?

Catalina Island is about 30 miles off the California coast and is part of Los Angeles County. Back in the day, it was a popular place for pirates, smugglers, missionaries and hunters. To this day, it is owned by the Wrigley family (gum, baseball field) and is a resort destination.



what to do catalina island


When to Go to Catalina Island

The best time to go to Catalina Island is during summer and early fall (June-October) when the water is calmer and the weather is warmer. In the winter, the waves get choppy so the ferry ride is not as pleasant. There is also a Jazz Festival and marathon during the summer and fall months.


what to do catalina island

Weather at Catalina Island

Catalina Island has an average year-round temperature of 68 degrees, but hovers around 72 in the summer. In June, it gets a little overcast so be aware of the marine layer not burning off until around noon. Bring a sweatshirt as nights and cloudy days get a little chilly.

what to do catalina island
The Italian Amalfi coast feel in California


What we loved about the weather: The temp was perfect as we went in June. It was around 70 degrees all day and there was no June gloom marine layer. It felt like the perfect amount of humidity and sun. But you can count on mostly sunny days in the summer.


what to do catalina island

How to get to Catalina Island

The only way to get to Catalina is by ferry boat unless you are brave enough to paddle board or swim. Ferry boats operate out of Newport Harbor, Long Beach and Dana Point. You can often find deals on them via Groupon. We took the Catalina Flyer. For most boats, expect to pay $70 round trip for adults and $53 round trip for kids.

catalina island day trips

What we loved about the ferry ride: We took the Catalina Flyer out of Newport beach. After grabbing donuts at Balboa Bakery and Donuts, we boarded the boat.

The Catalina Flyer ferry is fun with the cafe style seating, the open concession and bar and the sea world like show you get as the dolphins play in the ferry wake for the 30 mile trip. Our kids had a blast just watching them follow us behind the boat.


catalina island day trips

When you see the island, it feels like another country--rolling hills, turquoise water and stacked colorful homes. My kids thought it felt like we were in Disney‘s newest movie, Luca! Welcome to the Amalfi Coast of California!

catalina island day trips

How to get around on Catalina Island

Catalina Island only allows golf carts as the primary mode of transportation as the island is too small to have any other infrastructure to suit cars. The line for the golf cart was not our favorite so make sure you get there early if you want to snag one. They are $50 per hour but so worth it if you want to explore the island and take in spectacular views or go on hikes.


What we loved about the golf carts: We got our golf cart for only an hour from Cartopia. It was so refreshing to not have to haul around kid's car seats! Cartopia provided and installed them which was such a game changer and made for a more relaxing trip. We got a 6 seater and were able to fit all our kids.


what to do catalina island

Cheap Things to Do at Catalina Island for a Day Trip with Kids

If you're reading this, you are probably planning for a day trip in Catalina. There is a lot to do so make sure you plan ahead so you're not racking your brain with indecision.


Play at Knabe Park

As soon as you get off the boat, enjoy the views of the main harbor and the famous Casino at the swings just off the ferry dock. Knabe Park is pirate themed located on Pebbly Beach road so it makes for the start of a great adventure.

what to do catalina island

what to do catalina island

Play at the beach

Middle Beach is the closest to the ferry dock along Crescent Ave and near the clear waters of Avalon Harbor. We loved getting whiffle ball and sand toys at the general pharmacy. If you want a more luxurious experience, go to Desacanso Beach Club for $2. We loved the energy of being in the middle of Avalon.

catalina island day trips
catalina island day trips
what to do catalina island