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House Crazy Sarah Visits Catalina Island, California

Avalon, Catalina Island, California

Just before the nasty Coronavirus swept over North America, House Crazy Sarah snuck out and visited Catalina Island in California. She took some nice pictures for you so if you’re cooped up at home on the couch, feast your eyes on some beautiful landscape…

Avalon, Catalina Island, California

House Crazy Sarah fell fast and hard for this enchanted place.

Avalon, Catalina Island, California

Santa Catalina Island, also known as Catalina Island, or just Catalina, is a gorgeous island just an hour’s ferry ride west of Los Angeles in Southern California.

Avalon, Catalina Island, California

The island is sparsely populated except for the main city of Avalon which has just under 4,000 residents. Most of the locals work in the tourism industry. Wealthy families and movie stars own second homes there and the rest of the dwellings are vacation rentals.

Avalon is a charmingly quaint sea-side town with plenty of kitsch and character.

Avalon, Catalina Island, California

charming Catalina Island California

House Crazy spent a couple of blissful days exploring the town of Avalon and soaking up the sunshine and mermaid vibes.

charming Catalina Island California

charming Catalina Island California

charming Catalina Island California

The town of Avalon was established as a planned vacation community in the 1890’s. Many of the old structures remain such as this Victorian beauty on the hill:

charming Catalina Island California

Newer homes surround the old, but even those are oozing with beachy character.

charming Catalina Island California

The commercial strip near the ocean caters to tourists…

charming Catalina Island California

You can walk everywhere in Avalon because it is laid-out specifically for pedestrian traffic.

charming Catalina Island California

There is even a public swimming beach, although it was a little chilly in late February for House Crazy Sarah to take the plunge.

charming Catalina Island California

charming Catalina Island California

Since the island is small and sparsely populated, automobiles are not found in abundance there. The preferred mode of transportation is golf carts.

charming Catalina Island California

Golf carts are supposed to contribute to the laid back island feeling, but holy crap, those locals are speed demons in their little golf carts!

charming Catalina Island California

charming Catalina Island California

House Crazy Sarah took a guided tour of Avalon and the tour guide/bus driver kept yelling at the evil speedsters in the golf carts.

charming Catalina Island California

In any case, House Crazy Sarah got to see all the sites in and around Avalon, including this former aviary which is now a preschool, of all things.

charming Catalina Island California

Yes, kids actually grow up and go to school on the island. Apparently the high school in Avalon graduates around 20 seniors a year.

How magical would it be to spend your childhood here?

Avalon, Catalina Island photos

Avalon, Catalina Island photos

Avalon, Catalina Island photos

Most of the large mansions and estates are located in the hills above town.

Avalon, Catalina Island photos

And there is a golf course – of course!

Avalon, Catalina Island photos

House Crazy Sarah made sure to snap some photos of this old house:

Avalon, Catalina Island photos

The tour guide said it was one of the two oldest homes on the island.

Avalon, Catalina Island photos

The other one is the unique Victorian perched on the hill above town.

Avalon, Catalina Island photos

The bitter-sweet story behind this house is that a wealthy suitor had it built to lure his love interest to Catalina Island. He spared no expense and when his masterpiece was complete, he sent a letter to his object of desire on the mainland inviting her to come live with him. She replied with a one word note:  “No.”

Avalon, Catalina Island photos

That’s some will-power girlfriend!

Alas, House Crazy Sarah’s island digs were a little humbler.

House Crazy Sarah

Her hotel was a sweet, vintage, flower-draped grouping of rooms and cottages called La Paloma Las Flores.

Avalon, Catalina Island photos

Avalon, Catalina Island photos

She stayed in a corner room perched up high with views of the ocean and sweet smells of tropical flowers in bloom all around.

The Avalon Casino

But the star of the show – the star of the entire island – is none other than the famous Avalon Casino.

Avalon, Catalina Island photos

Surprisingly, there is no gambling here. Never was. No noisy slot machines or smoky poker games. The Avalon Casino represents purely what the word “casino” actually means in Italian: gathering place, or, place of celebration.

The Casino in Avalon on Catalina Island

The gorgeous structure was commissioned by William Wrigley Jr. and opened to the public in 1929.

The Casino in Avalon on Catalina Island

The art deco-style building was a date-night dream with a large theater on the main floor where films were shown or concerts were performed. On the upper level, there is a large round dance floor surrounded by banquet tables. Couples would come in droves from L.A. for dinner, dance and a movie.

The Casino is filled with dreamy commissioned murals both inside and out:

The Casino in Avalon on Catalina Island

The Casino in Avalon on Catalina Island

Have a look inside…

The Casino in Avalon on Catalina Island

The historic theater:

The Casino in Avalon on Catalina Island

The Casino in Avalon on Catalina Island

The tour guide noted that many of the murals are gold-plated.

inside the Catalina Island Casino

inside the Catalina Island Casino

The one-of-a-kind organ in the orchestra pit actually cost more than the original purchase price of the entire island!

inside the Catalina Island Casino

inside the Catalina Island Casino

House Crazy Sarah took the “Behind The Scenes” tour so she got to go in many rooms closed off to the general public like the dressing room used by many famous stars and starlets of decades past…

She spied this sweet sign:

And she got to go in the Wrigley’s private balcony box with original art deco furniture from the 1930’s.

inside the Avalon Casino

The private box also features a personal wet bar:

inside the Avalon Casino

The tour went through the projection rooms with all the antique projection equipment.

inside the Avalon Casino Catalina Island

But the jewel of the casino crown is undoubtedly the grand ballroom located above the theater.

inside the Avalon Casino Catalina Island

You may wonder how the sound of a room full of dancers and ballroom music is not heard in the theater directly below it.

the Avalon Casino ballroom

The answer? Layers and layers of sound absorbing cork board.

Have a closer look at the centerpiece light:

inside the Avalon Casino Catalina Island

Isn’t it stunning?

But the best part about the ballroom are the views of the bay from the wrap-around balcony:

inside the Avalon Casino Catalina Island

inside the Avalon Casino Catalina Island

House Crazy Sarah hopes you’ve enjoyed her pictorial tour of Avalon on Catalina Island, California.

Now you too can close your eyes and dream of a an enchanted place by the sea.  🙂

(Just watch out for those pesky golf carts!)

 

~~~

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