Ranch & Coast Magazine

June 2022

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Detour destinations BELLANCA: PHOTO COURTESY OF BELLANCA HOTEL ALL OTHER PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF CATALINA ISLAND COMPANY Island Easy Catalina gets the vacation started, stat I F YOU HAVEN'T BEEN TO CATALINA in a while, as I had not until recently, one thing is true: It is still the same Catalina of your memories. In many ways, its geography has served as somewhat of a time capsule. e distinctive landmarks, calm shores, and steep, scruffy landscape are unchanged. And, this tiny island feels even more "boutique" when you know that about 90 percent of its population is in the seven-and-a-half- square-mile main city of Avalon, which looks directly back at the Southern California coast. (It's part of L.A. County, so it's definitely Dodgers and Lakers territory, but don't hold that against it.) Above all else, Catalina's key selling point is its utter convenience. Getting to Dana Point Harbor, the nearest marine departure point for San Diegans, is a cinch, and the tickets are so affordable that it makes even a day trip to the little island an easy indulgence. A short ride on the Catalina Express lands you on Catalina in just over an hour. True, the ride is known to be a bit bumpy occasionally, but it's short enough that even landlubbers can ride it out with relative ease (and perhaps a Dramamine). Once you dock, vacation begins. No long taxi or Uber lines await; virtually no destination in Avalon is more than about ten minutes away by car, golf cart, or even on foot, regardless of where on your accommodations may be. For my daughter and me, it was as easy as tossing our small bags over our shoulders and enjoying a short walk along Crescent Avenue, essentially Catalina's "boardwalk," before arriving at our hotel, the hip, beachfront Bellanca. Fresh and bright, Bellanca Hotel is a perfect midpoint between the port to the south and Catalina's most iconic landmark, the Catalina Casino, to the north, making it a great base for exploring Avalon. e hotel makes getting around even easier by offering complimentary beach cruisers (complete with accompanying helmets and bike locks for longer excursions) to pedal all over town. But before setting out — or if your arrival is a bit early for check-in — a meal at the hotel's buzzy Naughty Fox restaurant is a perfect place to fuel up with good food and great people watching. Outward-facing bar seating along the outdoor patio's perimeter affords diners plenty of spots for breakfast, lunch, or dinner with a view Wednesday through Sunday (the Blackened Fish Sandwich was a hit for me). e menu also features a long list of enticing mixed cocktails that are a perfect companion to the hotel's chic, beachy vibe, though I stuck to a virgin beverage as I rediscovered my land legs. BY DEANNA MURPHY @ranchandcoast ranchandcoast.com 92 JUNE 2022 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE Catalina's Bellanca Hotel boasts ocean-facing suites that make the most of the property's beach frontage

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