Catalina Island has been one of our annual trips for the past 4-5 years. This year I got all excited because my birthday landed on Spring Break, and I got to ride the CATALINA EXPRESS for free as well as experience firsthand the Island birthday freebies. Most people already know about them, and the tricky part is you can only get them on the day of your birthday (not the week of or the month of). They will want to see proof. With an hour and half boat-ride away from Orange County, paradise awaited us! Here are five birthday island freebies you may or may not have known about in Avalon, California...
1. Ride free on your birthday on the Catalina Express!
The birthday ride has been around for years, but this year they changed it up and now call it "Share a Ride." It is like Buy-One-Get-One Free and you will need a companion to purchase their ticket so you can ride. You could also offer to split the cost with your friend if you need some convincing. Advance reservation is required, because you can't just show up and hope to ride. There are ports out of Dana Point, Long Beach, and San Pedro. It's valid for round-trip travel and you can return anytime within 30 days after your departure date, but you must depart on your birthday. This offer is currently available through December 31, 2017. www.catalinaexpress.com
2. Free Cup of Coffee or Tea at Catalina Coffee & Cookie Company.
If you love pastries and good coffee, CATALINA COFFEE & COOKIE CO. offers a range of treats from baked goods and frozen yogurt to breakfast sandwiches. I tried their "Best Brownie Ever" and it is one of the best brownies I have ever had. While you are there, you must try their cinnamon rolls warm, and my favorite cookie - their Eclipse. It is a chocolate cookie dipped in white chocolate. If it's your birthday, you get a free cup of 12 oz. gourmet coffee or tea. They'll want to see your Catalina Express Birthday ribbon and a valid ID. They're located in the Metropole Marketplace. (310) 510-2447 www.catcookieco.com
3. Free Scoop of Ice Cream at Lloyd's of Avalon.
Who doesn't love a sweet surprise? Stop in at LLOYD'S OF AVALON on your birthday for a free scoop of ice cream. Other sweet deals include: Buy one pound of Catalina Salt Water Taffy, Get a complimentary 1/4 pound OR Buy any iced coffee drink or smoothie, Get a second of equal or lesser value 1/2 off. Show ID to prove it's your birthday. (310) 510-7266 www.catalinacandy.com
4. Free game at Golf Gardens Mini Golf.
Visiting the Golf Gardens is always fun for us, and it's my family's tradition to play every time we are on the island. Owned by the Santa Catalina Island Company, the course is challenging, has 18 holes, and is beautifully landscaped with plants native to the island. (If you have extra time, you can learn all about the plants at the botanical garden.) Purchase one game of mini-golf and the birthday person plays complimentary. Adults $12, Child (2-11) $10, Seniors (55+) $10. You'll find it between Catalina and Sumner off Beacon. (310) 510-1200 www.visitcatalinaisland.com
5. Birthday Special at Three Palms Avalon Arcade.
Sometimes in between activities on our agenda, we stop into THREE PALMS AVALON ARCADE. It's located in the Metropole Marketplace. The special is Buy $5 in tokens and Get an additional $5 tokens free if it's your birthday. (310) 510-0967 www.threepalmsavalonarcade.com
MORE BIRTHDAY SPECIALS
Other birthday perks include a 10%-20% discount for hotels (some do a little extra and will give you a complimentary bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, tickets to the museum, or give you a spa discount). Some retailers will give you a small gift with purchase. There's also specials for attractions like bike rentals, free admission to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden, half price on kayaking, 2 for 1 snorkeling, helicopter rides, 2 for 1 parasailing, and much, much, more!
I had a wonderful time on Catalina Island celebrating my birthday with daily waterfront dining and scenic walks along the bay. The air is clean, the ocean views are magnificent, and Avalon is a really cute town. Everything is within short walking distance so you'll want to pack comfortable shoes and dress in layers. (I tried to run every morning to Descanso Beach and back.) If you're only coming in for the day, bring a backpack. Staying overnight and not sure what to pack? Pack it all and if you forget, there is a neighborhood Von's Grocery Store. Keep in mind too that many of the birthday perks are available on your birthday only and requires proof of ID. Wear your birthday button proudly because some of them are trained to look for it. I'll share more in detail of every place that I visited in the next coming weeks so watch out for my Travel Tuesday featuring more of Catalina Island! Meanwhile, you can also download a list of birthday island offerings here and start planning your birthday: www.catalinaexpress.com/birthday-island.html.