We’re deep into summer and if you haven’t planned a vacay yet, it’s time to kick your spontaneity in gear. To celebrate the lead up to Labor Day, we found the best, most affordable weekend getaways in America, proving once and for all that living lavishly on a budget is more than an ideal, it’s a dream come true. First stop: Southern California.
Take an hour-and-a-half ferry ride from the port of Los Angeles and you’ll find yourself instantly transported to a small town island paradise known as Avalon. Owned by the heir to the Wrigley fortune, the stunning island vistas were developed into a premiere resort getaway, attracting the greatest motion picture stars of the 1930’s.
Explore: Beyond its impressive historic architecture, Catalina hosts California’s most beautiful underwater sights: Spend the day kayaking, scuba diving, fly fishing, or tour the clear ocean waters from a glass bottom boat. Explore the canyon terrain with day hikes and Buffalo sightings (yes, wild Buffalo roam the interiors), or catch breathtaking views from a zip line tour or helicopter ride.
Chill: For a laid back vibe, rent a beach cabana at the Descanso Beach Garden Resort. Order the island specialty, the Buffalo’s Milk, a Frappuccino-like concoction spiked with Kahlua and banana liquor. Spend the day sunbathing and swim amongst the clear blue water – you’ll feel like you’re in Santorini in no time. Indulge in anti-aging wonders at Island Spa Catalina: Submit to the Seaweed Surrender, a detoxifying body wrap to stimulate your lymphatic system.
Dine: Avalon’s promenade is sprinkled with saltwater taffy shops, ice cream parlors, and a plethora of quaint open-air seaside dining options. Share a giant pizza pie on the patio at Antonio’s Pizzeria and Cabaret, a lovable local haunt. For breakfast, get in the big line that runs around the block at Original Jack’s Country Kitchen. This comfort food hot spot serves up vacation-worthy indulgences like The Elvis Waffle, a bacon waffle topped with warm peanut butter, bananas, chopped bacon, and whipped cream.
Shop: Stop by Catalina Pottery and Bath and pick up some handcrafted soaps in exotic scents like Almond Coconut or Cool Citrus Basil. Or, opt for some charming clay pottery made locally on the island. For surf-inspired fashion, head to CSC Boardshop, which features crush-worthy bohemian style swimwear from Amuse Society. Find creative gift ideas at The Steamer Trunk; the Catalina Islands tiles make for cute coasters and a sophisticatedly sweet souvenir.
Stay: For a modest hotel in cute seaside fashion, check out the Catalina Boat House Hotel. They offer two person weekend stays for $485, including round-trip boat fair to and from the island. For even more adventure, opt for a quaint wilderness cabin for only $100 a night, with the extra bonus of getting captivated by a starry sky.