Almost a month ago we ran away from home for the weekend.
Just 32 miles West of Newport Beach, California lies Santa Catalina Island. Although there are regular ferries to Catalina, as a family group (husband, son and me), we had never made the trip. I had been there way back when on a Girl Scout expedition and remember mostly waiting for around for ferries (not with the wings but with the engines)
Little did I know when you book Catalina during the summer, you better book your room well in advance. I called around to all the lodging available and got the very last room on the island (two night minimum). It wasn't exactly cheap, but this was the view:
Seriously? Are we in Hawaii? How could we be just 32 miles off the California coast? We were impressed. The Catalina vibe is laid back, the oceat is a glistening blue, and the restaurants are wonderful. But the water is a freezing seventy degrees. Hate the Pacific (sorry).
So what to do?
I found some displayed in a local store.
And, in the Casino Museum. Nice stuff. Hadn't seen it before.
Vibrant colors, huh?
To celebrate my son's 16th birthday we sent him out on a zip line. Unfortunately he came back.
And we accidentally booked the bus tour from hell. My husband spent parts of this three and half tour composing his negative Yelp review. Mostly riding on a bus and rarely getting out, all the way to the back side of the island.
Hey, at least it was a mid-century bus. :)
And we got to see actual Bison. The Bison were imported to Catalina for a 1924 Zane Grey Western film. Zane Gray kept a home on Catalina that is now a hotel.
After the bus tour, to let off steam, we went on a little hike. And I stumbled upon this mid-century modern perched upon a hilltop. What a view they have out of those oh so cool porthole windows.
We also happened upon a pet cemetery. It was pretty big. And very creepy. There were apartments whose doors and windows face straight into into the graveyard. Too Stephen Kingish for me. Although the markers were pretty charming.
And, for the grand finale. A tour! Yay!! While my husband and son went scuba diving (brrrrrr), I went on a tour of the Catalina Casino. We were told on our thirty minute speed tour that the Casino was never for gambling. Casino in Italian originally referred to a house built for entertainment or pleasure.
The ground floor has a museum, the second floor a movie theatre, and the top a magnificent ballroom still used today.
The Casino has been recently restored. But is exceptionally well preserved. Apparently, back in the day, they never allowed smoking in the theatre. Brilliant.
The front of the theatre is covered in stunning murals by John Gabriel Beckman, who also did the mural for Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
The murals were completed in three months, and originally should have been tiled in Catalina Pottery, but were painted due to opening day deadlines. The mermaid got censored over the years, and was finally restored to it former glory in tile, with guidance from Beckman himself.
The Casino is designed in art deco style for sure. But I love it just the same.
Lobby with perfectly preserved woodwork and murals.
Movie theatre murals.
Upstairs, the ballroom wasn't quite as pretty in broad daylight, but I LOVED the Tiffany lighting fixtures.
And the view from the ballroom balcony. **sigh**
Even the ballroom bar has wonderful murals from the 1929. Those fish kinda look mid-century to me?
All in all, I give Catalina a thumbs up but to really dig in and appreciate it, you need a couple of nights.
Well, that wraps up summer. Onward time marches.