Getting to Catalina is a pleasant exception to the "are we there yet" rule. Aboard one of the several ferries offering passage to the island, you can while away the 90-minute trip by watching the waves, exploring the ship or relaxing with a cocktail.
Ferries depart daily from San Pedro, Long Beach, Dana Point and Newport Beach. If sea travel's not your thing, fear not: You can zip across the channel on a helicopter in just 15 minutes and gain a new perspective on scenic L.A. Harbor and Catalina Island.
By sea: Catalina Cruises, (800) 228-2546, departs several times a day from the Long Beach boat terminal. Round-trip fares are $25 for adults, $20 for children 2 to 11 and $2 for children younger than 2; 90-minute trip.
Catalina Express, (800) 805-9201, makes daily departures from the Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point boat terminals. Round-trip fares are $36 for adults, $32.50 for seniors, $27 for children 2 to 11 and $2 for children younger than 2. An extra $40 rents the small upstairs lounge; 60- to 90-minute trip.
Catalina Passenger Service, (714) 673-5245, departs daily at 9 a.m. from Balboa Pavilion in Newport Beach. Round-trip fares are $36 for adults, $33 for seniors, $20 for children 3-12 and $2 for children under 3; 75-minute trip.
By air: Island Express Helicopter Service, (310) 510-2525, departs from the San Pedro and Long Beach boat terminals every 45 minutes. Round-trip fares are $121.
Parking at all locations averages $6 to $8 per day.