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Wanna get away? Catalina Island is closer to L.A. than Ventura or San Diego, and getting there is much more pleasant. Just head to the port at Long Beach or San Pedro and board the Catalina Express, and you'll disembark in our local island paradise about 75 minutes later, feeling relaxed rather than filled with road rage. (Big spenders can travel by helicopter or private plane, landing at the historic Airport in the Sky, 1,602 feet above the Pacific Ocean.) Many make a weekend of it, but you can enjoy much of this compact isle in a day. History buffs can tour the Avalon Casino (no gambling, but there is a first-run movie theater and ballroom); outdoorsy types can indulge in all manner of water sports plus hiking and biking; thrill seekers can try the zip line; relaxers can zone out at the refurbished Descanso Beach Club; shoppers can wander Avalon's touristy boutiques; and nature lovers can tour the rugged interior by Hummer or in a 1950s refurbished Flxible bus, from which you might see the famed bison or a bald eagle. Throw in a tropical drink at Luau Larry's as you meander back to the dock for your ride home and your day is complete. —Lisa Horowitz

catalinachamber.com.

LA Weekly