I haven’t been to an actual zoo in years. Last year while we were in West Palm Beach, FL we spent two days at Lion Country Safari & it was absolutely amazing. We had beautiful, massive giraffes, ostriches, & a bunch of other species of African born animals walked right past our car. So when Chris’s mom suggested we stop at the Santa Barbara Zoo on our way to El Capitan Canyon last month I was game.
It has been just over a month since my birthday & I think now that I have had time to let it soak in I am ready to accept the fact that in 11 months I will be heading into the next decade. For my birthday, I had my first full weekend off in about 7 weeks so Chris & I were determined to go somewhere. We threw out a lot of ideas, did a little research & decided on somewhere neither of us had been as adults… Catalina Island.
Just over an hour ferry ride off out of Long Beach by 8:30 we were on the island & scouring the shop lined streets for a breakfast place. We ended up at Original Jack’s Country Kitchen, a little dinner on Catalina Ave. in Avalon. A few cups of coffee & the perfect breakfast combinations, with probably some of the best hash browns I have ever had, was the best way to start our day full of exploring & sunshine.
Prior to heading to the island we had purchased tickets to the Skyline Tour that left around 2 in the afternoon & tickets to mini golf, because we had heard that you can’t go to Catalina without mini golfing. So after we walked around the shops & window shopped a little we headed to the mini golf course in the center of town.
After mini golf & a little stop off at Lloyds, the local ice cream parlor, we headed to the tour bus stop to catch our ride to the center of the island.
There are a ton of tours to choose from, & we chose the Skyline tour for a very specific reason… everything else was sold out. This tour was out of control fun though! It’s just over two hours long & brings you to the inland of the island where your stopping point is a small little airport. We took a bus from 1953 (but actually) up the mountain sides of the island, on the skinniest roads I have ever seen. Let me tell you, as a person who is afraid of heights… I was in tears at some points. But once I got used to the possibility that that may be my final day on earth if the bus goes over the edge, I was able to enjoy the amazing views & the crazy amount of facts that the tour guide was feeding us. (And hey, if we did go over at least I wouldn’t have to worry about making it to 30.)
We saw gorgeous view of little coves full of everything from campgrounds to beach clubs & even a 5 part zip line. We saw indigenous species of plants to the island, & even species of plants & animals that have adapted to the island, changing over time. The coolest sites of all though, was the Catalina Island bison. In the 1920s a small heard of buffalo were brought over to the island to be part of a silent movie they were filming. The story says that the after shooting wrapped the film crew didn’t wrangle the buffalo allowing them to stay on the island. They are some of the animals that have since adapted to their surroundings, changing over time. We were able to spot one of these during our trip.
After our tour we stopped in at a steak house right on Crescent Ave, across from the beach to hang out before our boat ride home. We ended up sitting at Steve’s Steakhouse for three hours drinking wine, talking to the owner of the restaurant & bar tender, & enjoying some of the most delicious seafood we have had in a long time. I had their swordfish skewers while Chris enjoyed amazing shrimp scampi over garlic toast. Literally I would go back to the island just for that.
Overall the day away was something we totally needed. It was a great day just to get away, the two of us, from work, from home & go explore somewhere neither of us had really been to. We definitely left the island planning a ton more trips to Catalina, packed with a lot of adventures. We will keep you posted on our next trip to the island but for now, enjoy some of our photos from the day.