Located "26 miles across the sea," as the Four Preps used to croon, the Casino Ballroom looms like a Moorish Art Deco castle over Catalina's picturesque Avalon Bay. Surrounded by water on three of its sides, the imposing white building, topped by a red-tiled roof, rises to the equivalent of 12 stories. The ground floor houses a history museum and the Avalon Theatre, which, when it opened in 1929, was one of the first movie palaces designed for sound. The large theater has its original Page pipe organ and continues to show films daily. Ornate glass and wrought-iron deco lamps and giant, almost-psychedelic sea-life-themed murals adorn the inside of the theater and the front of the building. Up on the second level lies the refurbished ballroom, which used to host big-band big names like Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Kay Kyser, as well as a flock of Tinseltown celebrities. There may no longer be gambling in the Casino Ballroom, but the venue (reportedly the largest circular ballroom in the world) frequently presents jazz, swing, rockabilly and blues concerts. Even when no one's scheduled to perform, this architectural marvel is still worth a visit. An hour-long afternoon tour occurs daily.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories