It’s the F*cking Catalina Wine Mixer! Pardon my French, but if you haven’t seen the movie Step Brothers, you probably don’t get the joke. The iconic and hilarious movie Step Brothers came out in 2008 which is when the F*cking Catalina Wine Mixer came to be and just 7 years later, Catalina Island decided to make the Wine Mixer an actual thing. In True Step Brothers fashion, Descanso Beach Club hosts live bands and DJs as well as gourmet food and wine.
Now if only we could get Brennan to perform his Por Ti Volare opera solo…
Catalina Island – Wine Mixer or not – is one of my favorite places to visit and since I live in California it is so easy to make it a quick weekend trip. The great thing about Catalina is that it doesn’t feel like California at all. The Island truly has a French Riviera or Italian Coast feel to it. I have been once before, but Gavin has never been so I thought that the Catalina Wine Mixer would be the perfect opportunity to show him around.
After reading some reviews and talking to some of my friends that have been before, I made a list of places to visit while we were here. Most places are within walking distance, but if you choose, it’s a lot more fun to rent a golf cart and get around that way.
Below are a few places to stay and things to do that I recommend:
How to Get There
- By Ferry – you can either choose the Catalina Express, which is what we did, or the Catalina Flyer. The fare for general seating is about $75 round trip, but you can pay a little extra to get Commodore Seating (complete with a free glass of champagne).
- By Helicopter – The Island Express is a great way to save time as the flight is only about 15 minutes out of Long Beach. It’s $250/round trip per person including tax.
- Hotel St. Lauren – we stayed at this quaint little pink hotel and to be honest, I was pretty excited prior to arriving. Unfortunately, besides the beautiful view from the 6th floor patio, we didn’t enjoy our stay. The staff was less than friendly and there were some personal items taken from our room. Next time we’d probably choose the Pavilion Hotel or rent an Air BnB.
- The Pavilion Hotel – We didn’t go into this hotel, but we ate at a restaurant right next to it and spoke to some people that were staying there. They had nothing but great things to say, so we were thinking of staying there next time.
- The Avalon Hotel – I’ve never personally stayed here but have heard great things about it. It also has a 4.5 star rating on TripAdvisor.
- Air BnB – Again, I haven’t ever done Air BnB on Catalina, but I heard that the condos in Hamilton Cove are to-die-for. Most times, you can get an entire villa for the same cost as 1 night at a hotel.
- Dinner at Bluewater Grill – a view of the boats and yachts and Gavin is always happy when there’s fresh clam chowder.
- Brunch at Maggie’s Blue Rose – their Micheladas are to-die-for and so is their fresh guacamole and homemade tortillas.
- Lunch and cocktails at Descanso Beach Club – I like to get there early to reserve a place as the beach can get crowded.
- Drinks and a buffalo burger at El Galleon – they also have karaoke and who doesn’t love that?
- Sushi at CC Gallagher – some of the freshest sushi I’ve had and they also have beer & wine tastings.
- Catalina Brew House – is a small craft brewery that manufactures and distributes craft beers created from local materials. Try the Mesquite Agave or prickly pear fruit infused La Rosa de Catalina.
- Catalina Wine Mixer – Go on Friday night for a viewing of Step Brothers followed by a Step Brothers costume contest where you can win:
- A future night’s stay at the Pavilion Hotel
- Round trip boat transportation
- Two Zip Line Eco Tours ($250 value)
- Renting a pedal boat or snorkel gear
- Go Parasailing – get the best views of the island from 800 feet up. Be sure to reserve in advance though, because they sell out quickly.
- Zip Line Eco Tour – I’ve zip-lined in Hawaii before but I am such a thrill seeker and think it would be so much fun to go in Catalina. We didn’t have time this go-around but next time!
- A tour of the Catalina Casino – Casino in Italian means ‘gathering place’ and there is no actual gambling that’s done here. Instead the Avalon Theatre inside shows first-run movies nightly at 7:30 pm. If you arrive an hour early on Friday and Saturday, you can hear a performance on the theater’s original 1929 Page Pipe Organ.
- Ghost Tours of Catalina – we didn’t have time to do this since we only went one night (which I’m super sad about), but next time, this is a must for me!
The island itself is fairly small, but there is always something fun going on in Catalina. My favorite part is being able to relax and pretend that I’m in Europe and not 26 miles away from LA. Have you visited Catalina? Where are your favorite places to eat or things to do? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!