A fat lemon-colored sun was shining overhead when the Cat Express ferry left the dock in Long Beach, but by the time we reached Avalon, clouds had started to move in. The sun was playing hide and seek as I stepped off the boat, and before I'd rounded the corner ontoCrescent avenue, big drops of rain were beginning to fall.
Rain? In Avalon? Yes, the resort town known for blue skies and mild weather does cloud up now and then. But light -- or even heavy -- rain shouldn’t keep you from doing some amazing things while you're on the island.
Here's a sampling of things that will keep you entertained, even when storms are brewing.
Get to know the island, starting with the Catalina Casino. This iconic Art Deco building, where Big Bands and Hollywood once played, has been the center of island entertainment since it was built in 1929. Explore it on the Casino Walking Tour or Behind the Scenes Casino Tour. And be sure to see a film in its spectacular first-run movie theater, open nightly. (visitcatalinaisland.com)
While you're at the casino, check out the lower level Catalina Museum, a fun stop where you'll learn about some of the celebrities who lived, worked or played on the island, such as Marilyn Monroe, Ronald Reagan, Clark Gable, John Wayne and the Chicago Cubs. The gift shop is a winner, too. (catalinamuseum.org)
Most of the tours that criss-cross the island are in enclosed vehicles. So hop on a bus, take a ride on the Catalina Island Trolley, rent a golf cart or jump on a submarine or glass bottom boat tour. Fish love the rain and you won't get wet.
Catch the de-stress express by visiting one of the island's spas, where you can relax with a massage, get rejuvenated with a facial, or drift off to sleep with aromatherapy.
Grab a cab to the Nature Center at Avalon Canyon (1202 Avalon Canyon Rd.), where you'll learn about Catalina's wild side. Self-guided exhibits focus on the island's natural history and the work of the Catalina Island Conservancy.
Shop, shop, shop. Spend a lazy afternoon exploring Avalon's boutiques and shops. The town is compact, so an umbrella or a hooded windbreaker is all you need to stay dry. Whether you're looking for beach gear, trendy clothing or upscale gifts, you'll find there.
Don't forget to visit galleries such as Afishanados, which specializes in marine artwork and gifts, and find fine art at the Ruth Meyer Art Gallery and the Community Gallery.
Looking for something for the kids and dad to do while you shop? Try Three Palms Arcade, where they can play video games or table hockey. Or stop at Sugarloaf, where they can rent a movie or buy a book, or at Island Toy Store, for games and puzzles.
Enjoy a lazy lunch at the Inn at Mt. Ada, where you'll see spectacular views, rain or shine (reservations required), or Bluewater Grill at Avalon for bayfront dining, or any one of a dozen more great restaurants.
Get happy on Catalina's Happy Hour Tour or Tasting and Cultural Tour, catalinafoodtours.com, or visit a local happy hour solo. You'll find great deals and a warm welcome, regardless of the weather.
By Rosemary McClure