Trip Report: Catalina Island & The Avalon Ball
May 18, 2012
I can never say I don’t win anything. A couple of months ago, I attended the Art Deco Society’s Casino Moderne and despite my terrible (play)gambling that left me with a mere three raffle tickets, I won the grand prize – four tickets and a reserved table for the Avalon Ball in Catalina Island’s landmark Casino Ballroom.
It was time for a getaway. I’d only been to Catalina Island once for an afternoon so this time, I really wanted to see it. My man and I planned a much over-due long weekend and jumped aboard the Catalina Express. Even though it was a Friday afternoon, the boat was full as it was Mother’s Day weekend and a big mountain bike race was also taking place. But we didn’t mind much, we were on vacation!
I love how the minute you step off the boat, you’re on an island and you just walk over to your hotel. We booked a room in the St. Lauren, a super cute Victorian-style hotel that’s painted all PINK! I loved it, especially the deck that overlooks all of Avalon – a great place to take pictures!
We put down our bags and headed out to do some sightseeing. We poked in and out of all the little shops and took snapshots along the waterfront. Then it was time for dinner. All that sea air had us craving some fish ‘n’ chips so we found, Armstrong’s Seafood Restaurant, a little place along the waterfront that hit the spot. Then we dashed over to a party in one of the rental homes given by some members of the Art Deco Society as a warm up to the following night’s glamorous ball.
Saturday morning we got up and headed for breakfast at Jack’s Country Kitchen where we enjoyed some delicious eggs benedict while seated near Spencer Davis, who is a local on the island these days. After a quick hello to friendly vintage flash mob of Art Decophiles outside, all dressed up in 20’s and 30’s garb and turning heads down the street, we were off to rent a golf cart and took off for the hills for a tour the place and its spectaculars views.
Afterward, we wandered over to the Casino where many were gathering for a screening of the silent film, “Wings” in the famed movie theatre. But the weather was just too lovely for a movie, so we opted for a jaunt through the museum to learn the history of the island and chewing gum magnet, William Wrigley, Jr., who played a major role in the charming development of Avalon and conservancy of the rest of the land.
The Casino is one gorgeous place, with its 10,000 square foot circular dance floor. Dean Mora and his his Orchestra were playing hits from the 1920s and 30s with the help of some guest singers including swoon-worthy crooner, Johnny Holiday who we had the pleasure of chatting with out on the balcony. My he has some stories!
After the ball, we all went out foraging for food. While the Avalon Grill stayed open late, all they were serving were appetizers. So we ventured into the darkness and with the recommendation of the local liquor store clerk, we found Pete’s – an oversized hamburger stand in the center of town. We weren’t the only ones there either. Mr. Holiday was in line ahead of us and a line of formally dressed ballers began to form behind us. It was hilarious to see everyone in their gowns and tuxedos chowing down out of styrofoam boxes while seated in plastic lawn chairs! We got a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches to go and scurried back up hill to our cute little hotel room.
The next morning we enjoyed coffee on the deck of our hotel with a perfect view of Avalon before setting sail back to the mainland. So long Catalina – you glamorous place of island charm. I’ll be back soon!
See more photos in the slideshow by clicking the photo below:
Note: No, I do not smoke, but the long cigarette holder you see in the photos was a fun prop for the night!Art Deco, Art Deco Society Los Angeles, Catalina Casino, Catalina Island, Johnny Holiday, Spencer Davis, Travel