As the Four Preps’ song says, it’s only 26 miles to Santa Catalina and just a ferry ride away. Mix this weekend’s special events with some Avalon favorites.
This week, dance the night away with Red & the Red Hots from 8 p.m. to midnight, sponsored by the Pasadena Ballroom as part of its Fourth Annual Swing Camp Catalina, a four-day event with workshops and special performances by top swing dancers. All dances will be held in the Casino’s Grand Ballroom, 1 Casino Way, where such greats as Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey played. William Wrigley Jr., heir to the chewing gum fortune, had the 12-story Casino built in 1919. For information call (818) 799-1179. For midnight boat reservations back to Long Beach Saturday, call (310) 510-4646.
Take a walk on Descanso Beach then have a late breakfast at the Busy Bee, 306 Crescent Ave., (310) 510-1983, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekends. Try the Cajun sausage and eggs or the huevos rancheros.
For movie buffs, there’s the 10th Annual Silent Film Benefit at the 1929 Art Deco Avalon Theatre at 2 p.m. on the first floor of the Casino Building. Sponsored by the Catalina Island Museum Society, this is an opportunity to see silent films in a historic theater with musical accompaniment by organist Robert Sallisbury. The films are “My Best Girl” (1927) with Mary Pickford and Buddy Rogers, and two shorts: “Modeling,” a Fleischer Brothers film starring Koko the Clown, and “Double Whoopee,” starring Laurel and Hardy. Tickets: $7 adults, $5 children under 13. A free reception will follow at the Casino’s museum, (310) 510-2414.
After the reception, try one of the island’s best restaurants, Ristorante Villa Portofino, 111 Crescent Ave., between Whittley and Manilla avenues, (310) 510-0508. Specialties include the cannelloni portofino (homemade cannelloni with chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus and cream) and seared ahi tuna served on top of mashed potatoes with a wine and shallot sauce. Reservations required.
Rent a kayak from Wet Spot Kayak Rentals, 120 Pebbly Beach Road, (310) 510-2229, and explore Catalina’s reefs. Beginners need not worry because experienced guides are on hand to help with the basics. Single kayaks are $30 for a half-day, doubles are $50. Wet Spot also rents snorkel gear and paddle boats.
If you’re ready to tackle the the kelp, you can rent scuba equipment for $50 a day at Catalina Divers Supply, Green Pleasure Pier, (310) 510-0330 for reservations. Two-tank, 20- to 80-foot boat dives ($70) leave daily.
Or rent a gas-powered golf cart and take a sightseeing tour of the former Wrigley Mansion, now a bed and breakfast called Inn on Mount Ida, 398 Wrigley Road, past Upper Terrace Road, (310) 510-2030; or the Wrigley Memorial and 38-acre botanical garden, 1400 Avalon Canyon Road, (310) 510-2288.
Have a salad or sandwich on the terrace at the Channel House overlooking the harbor, 205 Crescent Ave. off Whittley Avenue, (310) 510-1617, and prepare for the trip back to reality.