Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Midcentury Modern Catalina Weekend Getaway

Even though it is back to school (boo), I have one more summer adventure to share with you.

Santa Catalina Island, California


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)

Santa Catalina Island, California, The Catalina Express
.

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:

Santa Catalina Island, California

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?

Santa Catalina Island, California




Look at the pretty pottery tiles everywhere. Catalina Pottery was founded in 1927 to create tiles out of the rich red clay of Catalina to be used in building up the island. I am a little addicted to California pottery.

I found some displayed in a local store.

Santa Catalina Island, California, Catalina Pottery

Santa Catalina Island, California, Catalina Pottery

And, in the Casino Museum. Nice stuff. Hadn't seen it before.

Santa Catalina Island, California, Catalina Pottery

Vibrant colors, huh?

To celebrate my son's 16th birthday we sent him out on a zip line. Unfortunately he came back.

Santa Catalina Island, California, Zipline Eco Tour

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.

Santa Catalina Island, California, Bus Tour

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.

Santa Catalina Island, California, bison


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.

Santa Catalina Island, California, midcentury modern


Santa Catalina Island, California

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.

Santa Catalina Island, California, pet cemetery

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.

Santa Catalina Island, California, Casino

The ground floor has a museum, the second floor a movie theatre, and the top a magnificent ballroom still used today.

Santa Catalina Island, California, Casino

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.

Santa Catalina Island, California, Casino


Santa Catalina Island, California, Casino

The Casino is designed in art deco style for sure. But I love it just the same.

Lobby with perfectly preserved woodwork and murals.

Santa Catalina Island, California, Casino

Movie theatre murals.

Santa Catalina Island, California, Casino


Santa Catalina Island, California, Casino

Upstairs, the ballroom wasn't quite as pretty in broad daylight, but I LOVED the Tiffany lighting fixtures.

Santa Catalina Island, California, Casino

Santa Catalina Island, California, Casino

Santa Catalina Island, California, Casino

And the view from the ballroom balcony. **sigh**

Santa Catalina Island, California, Casino

Santa Catalina Island, California, Casino


Even the ballroom bar has wonderful murals from the 1929. Those fish kinda look mid-century to me?

Santa Catalina Island, California, Casino

All in all, I give Catalina a thumbs up but to really dig in and appreciate it, you need a couple of nights.

Santa Catalina Island, California

Perfect for a sneaky little get-away. If possible, avoid going during the summer months when ferries dump people off all the time. BUT, even with the sold-out lodging situation and a kid-filled weekend, Catalina just didn't seem that crowded. Secret's out--Catalina isn't just for the cruise ships and the boaters.

Well, that wraps up summer. Onward time marches.

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8 comments:

  1. That looks like such a fun trip. I didn't know Catalina still did such a booming tourist trade. I love the murals!

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  2. Beautiful series of photos, and I love that mid-century bus!!! :)

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