Southern California is no stranger to incredible getaway spots. Although places like San Diego, Santa Monica and Santa Barbara may get a lot of attention, there are two quaint coastal towns that are often overlooked. If you’re looking to get out of the city and experience a mini-retreat, Avalon and Two Harbors are some of the best California Coastal towns you can visit. They are vastly underrated locations where you can avoid the crowds and participate in some truly unique activities.
Avalon – Fun and Adventurous
Many people in Southern California go to Catalina Island as a place of refreshment. There’s no question that the Island is the best escape from the commotion of city life. Surrounded by glistening waters and beautiful sunny days, Catalina Island is a fast track to ultimate relaxation. Within Catalina Island is the quaint coastal town of Avalon. Since its inception in 1913, Avalon has become a paradise to residents and visitors.
Avalon provides a diverse amount of activities that satisfy the desires of every type of vacationer. Adventure vacationers can fly through the Island on a zip line at speeds up to 30 mph. Foodies can enjoy breathtaking views while they try delicious food tour eats. Families can enjoy a plethora of water activities, such as ocean kayaking. Couples can grow their love for one another on a romantic beach dinner. The wide range of island activities are unparalleled and broadly relatable to all types of people.
There are many great places to stay in Avalon. Located in the heart of this coastal town, Pavilion Hotel is a beachfront destination located only 10 steps away from the water. It’s also within walking distance of many amazing shops and restaurants. If for some reason you’re not in the mood to be outdoors, Avalon has many fantastic places for indoor entertainment, such as Three Palms Avalon Arcade, Catalina Casino and Movie Theater.
Avalon is a coastal town that will hold your interest for days. If you’re looking for a tourist town with plenty of great places to eat, fun activities and shopping, Avalon is the place to go.
Two Harbors – Calm and Outdoorsy
Contrasted with Avalon, Two Harbors is a small, rustic village that is the nature enthusiast’s dream. This is more of a quiet area. It’s even more tranquil in Two Harbors because life over there is very welcoming, and it takes its sweet time. Simply put, Two Harbors is an outdoor paradise. That is the best way to describe it.
Just because this coastal town moves slower doesn’t mean you’ll be bored to death. There are many enjoyable activities you can do within the quiet town of Two Harbors. Visitors love kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, renting bikes, and simply relaxing on the beach under the palapas. There are also new hydro bikes that you can use to pedal out on the water. Fisherman even love coming to Two Harbors to fish for mackerel, sardines and larger sports fish, like white sea bass and yellowtail. If you’re going with a fishing charter, you don’t need to bring your fishing gear. However, if you just want to fish by yourself then you probably will need to bring your own equipment.
One of the biggest reasons people go to Two Harbors is for the island camping experience. The campgrounds are about one-mile away so most campers utilize Gear Haul, an affordable service that will transport your equipment to the campsite for you. Also running near the campgrounds are some magnificent hiking trails. From Two Harbors, hikers can traverse through some of the best hiking in California.
Two Harbors has one hotel, the Banning House Lodge. It is a historic 12-room bed and breakfast with gorgeous views and a serene setting. There are also Catalina Camping Cabins for visitors who prefer a more rustic, intimate experience. If you have your own boat, you can even enjoy an unforgettable boating vacation at the Catalina moorings.
As far as night life goes, Two Harbors is home to Harbor Reef Restaurant, a place beloved by all Catalina Island visitors and locals. They have low-key concerts every night. Two Harbors also has a yearly Wine Festival and a Microbrew Festival. The Wine Festival is in June, and it sells out within 5 minutes of tickets being released. It’s wildly popular and visiting boaters love trying the delicious tastings. Microbrew Fest is in September, and it’s one the best places to enjoy great beer tastings in a setting that is not nearly as hectic as other brewing events. Two Harbors is also home to the infamous Buffalo Milk. This signature alcoholic drink contains vodka, Kahlua, crème de cacao, milk and fresh bananas, all blended with ice and topped with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Another popular event is Buccaneers Weekend, a hilarious experience in the first week of October when everyone dresses up like pirates and celebrates life together.
All-in-all, if you want to go shopping and experience many restaurants, go to Avalon. If you just want to be in nature 24/7 and enjoy quaint experiences, Two Harbors is your place.
Visit Catalina Island and experience these dream California coastal towns today by making a reservation on board Catalina Express!