Located southwest of Los Angeles sits the small island of Santa Catalina Island, which boasts two towns and lots of wilderness to explore. A Catalina vacation allows you and your family to enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and boating. Book a stay at a Catalina vacation rental in Avalon or Two Harbors. Look forward to abundant shopping and dining options in the tourist centers of the island, or venture outside of the towns to immerse yourselves in some peace and quiet. As you start planning your itinerary, check out the top nine activities to do with the kids in Catalina.

1. Catalina Casino

While you wouldn’t normally think of Catalina Casino as a family-friendly activity, this casino has a movie theater on the lower level. This theater offers all the latest blockbuster movies, so it makes a great place to beat the heat in the summer or escape a rainy afternoon with buttery popcorn and icy drinks. Older children can see a movie alone while the adult family members try their luck at the casino upstairs.

2. Catalina Island Undersea Expedition

Your kids will love the chance to see the life under the sea at the Catalina Island Undersea Expedition. Your family gets a chance to head out onto the water in a semi-submersible vessel with 5 feet of the ship under the water line. Thick windows make it easy for your family to see fish, coral, and sea plants as they float by the windows. Some interesting underwater critters include bright orange garibaldi, bat rays, rockfish, spotted calico bass, and urchins.

3. Glass Bottom Boat Voyage

A trip with Glass Bottom Boat Voyage provides a way to see the ocean below without the need to go below decks. This company takes your family out onto the ocean and portions of the boat offers windows to the sea below the boat. This voyage includes a ride over to the Lover‘s Cove Marine Preserve area with its colorful fish. Children under two ride for free, and there are discounts for kids, teens, and seniors available. While you can sometimes get a same-day trip, you should consider making reservations in advance.

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4. Flying Fish Voyage

Off the coast of Catalina Island, there are flying fish, but you have to be crafty and catch them in the dark. Take the family for a magical evening on a Flying Fish Voyage. Offered only during the summer months, this tour uses large spotlights so that your kids can clearly see the fish as they jump out of the water and back in. Kids under the age of two are free while your older kids and senior parents can get a discount.

5. Hamilton Beach

Spend a day on the beach at the remote location of Hamilton Beach. Enjoy the white sand beach and the warm water as your kids play in the surf. Bring a cooler from your vacation rental with sandwiches and drinks so you can spend the entire day without the need to find a restaurant. Try your hand at flying kites or hold a sandcastle building contest to keep your kids engaged while you catch up on your reading under the warm sun.

6. Skyline Drive Tour

Hop aboard a cool 1950‘s Flxible Bus with your family for an afternoon of wilderness and breathtaking views of the island and the ocean beyond as you leave the city and make your way out to the undeveloped parts of the island. On your way to the Catalina Nature Center at the Airport in the Sky, you might get the chance to see some of the island’s buffalo population. After arriving at the airport, enjoy a family meal together with burgers at the DC-3 Grill and finish with the cookies that people rave about.

7. Catalina Island’s Golf Gardens

Find out which one of your children is destined for a future as a professional golfer at the Catalina Island’s Golf Gardens. For years, locals and visitors alike have enjoyed an afternoon of mini golf at this 18-hole course. It’s well-known for its challenging play and the beautiful natural setting. Located in the downtown area, after playing all the holes, you and the family can grab an ice cream or a meal at one of the locally owned restaurants.

8. Zip Line Eco Tour

See Catalina Island from a new vantage point with a zip line eco-tour. This location offers five separate lines that are 300 feet above the ground. If you’re brave enough, one of the line runs for 1,100 linear feet for a thrilling ride that seems to go on forever. If you ride all five lines, you’ll travel more than .75 miles with stunning views of the island and the ocean beyond. As you move from line to line, a guide greets you with fun facts about the ecology and history of the island.

9. Dolphin Tour

Several local companies take visitors out onto the water around the island to catch sight of dolphins playing in the water. These sea mammals enjoy playing in the wake of boats. Your kids will squeal with delight as they watch these large aquatic animals playing and jumping in and out of the water.

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