Catalina Island lies 22 mi/35 km off the Southern California coast, but it feels like a world away. Just the name conjures images of the quaint seaside village of Avalon, picture-perfect harbors and sandy beaches. Catalina is everything that Los Angeles is not—small-scale, nostalgic and slow-paced—and therein lies its charm.
Visitors often compare the island's compact town of Avalon with Amalfi, Italy, or a resort town on France's Cote d'Azur. Perhaps it's those rocky palisades rising from the sea that suggest a Mediterranean locale. Or maybe it's the tiled fountain, quaint storefronts and the Moorish-style casino. Foreign visitors have been known to ask local shopkeepers whether they accept U.S. currency. In all, the island promises a delightful departure from urban inconveniences—the more so because Catalina, alone in Southern California, disdains the automobile.
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