Best Weekend Getaway (2011)


Hop aboard the Catalina Express from either Dana Point or Long Beach for a quick boat trip to the island's small town—or take an exhilarating helicopter ride over. The entrance to Avalon Harbor looks like a mini-Mediterranean island, with its quaint buildings nestled in the sides of lush hills overlooking the ocean—in fact, most hotels, restaurants and houses come with an ocean view. The island's laid-back charm seems worlds away from bustling Orange County, though the actual distance is a mere 26 miles. Avalon's main tourist area is spread across the bay's small beach, which has an astonishing bar-per-square-foot density—drinking establishments are practically stacked on top of one another. Don't forget to indulge in one of the island's signature cocktails, the Buffalo Milk, a creamy concoction of Kahlua, vodka and banana. Of course, there's also hiking, golfing and kayaking for you more active types.


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