catalina island birthday promo

My big birthday freebie this year was going to Catalina Island! Catalina Express offers a free round trip ticket on your actual birthday (value: $74). That’s the big catch – that you must leave on your birthday. Since my birthday fell on a Saturday this year, it was the perfect day to finally be able to visit Catalina.

catalina-island-birthday-ribbon

They give you a birthday ribbon to wear. The birthday ribbon entitles you to various freebies and everyone wishes you a happy birthday which just kinda makes you feel extra special. When you check in they give you a print out of all of the freebies and you can also go on the Catalina Express website to check it out in advance

catalina-express-commodore-lounge

For an additional $15 (each way) you can get seats in the Commodore Lounge. What’s so great about the Commodore Lounge? Well, you get to get on the boat first, there are two seats per row instead of three, and they bring you drinks. I had an orange juice since I was still getting over my cold and Jake got a Jack and Coke. Yup. You can drink on the boat ride over if you really wanna!

I thought the Commodore Lounge was better for going over to Catalina and not as necessary for going back (we sat in the “regular” section for the ride home). The regular seats kind of feels like an extra wide airplane with long rows of seating. The journey is fairly smooth and I didn’t see anyone get seasick. The ride is a little over an hour and when you park there it’ll cost you $15 to park all day.

clear-water-orange-fishies

My co-worker Lindsay told me to MAKE SURE to look for the orange fishies when we got off the boat and I totally saw them! The water is so pretty and clear here and the air feels a little fresher and more serene than back on the mainland.

avalon-harbor-boats

We strolled for a bit at first, taking in the scenery before heading over to try and rent a golf cart. We bypassed the first place we saw to go to one a little closer to the main square because we read they had a birthday discount. Sadly they ran out of golf carts so we headed back to Catalina Island Golf Rental which is right past the port.

golf-carts

When we got up to rent a cart, the lady working there noticed my birthday ribbon and said they also had the birthday offer which is a free 1/2 hour. This isn’t stated on their website or on the birthday deals but if you go up with your super special ribbon I bet you’ll get the deal. Also if you rent for two hours then the third hour is free. You must be over 25 to drive a cart and you must put a deposit down in cash when you rent and then they determine the price when you turn your cart back in. Easy peasy.

Renting the golf cart was an EXCELLENT idea. This way we were able to explore Avalon in full and see more than just the main touristy area at the harbor.

ocean-above-avalon

This photo was taken as we were trekking up the hill. I love the different shades of blue you can see in the ocean.

flag-over-harbor

We made a little pit stop past the inn where Wrigley Jr. (who owned lots of property on Catalina as well as the Chicago Cubs – did you know they did their spring training in Catalina in 1920’s-1950’s?) and walked down a little path to a pretty cliff right above the harbor. We saw a couple getting a bunch of wedding photos taken up in this gorgeous spot.

mary-over-avalon

My shirt matches the tree!

jake-over-avalon

Jake’s goofy expression here makes me laugh.

selfie-over-avalon-ocean

Pretty!

jake-and-elwood

We drove up to the Botanical Garden but didn’t go inside and instead visited the Nature Center (where we learned about conservatory efforts) and then drove around to look at where the old ballpark used to be. The old ballpark is behind this trolley (can you guess why I took this photo? I hope so.) and it’s now just a dirt patch.

wrigley-plaque-jake

wrigley-plaque-closeup

The ballpark was in view from Wrigley Jr.’s house. He could look down to see how they were doing with the practice and if he thought a player was sucking big time, he’d call down to have them run up the hill to his house so he could chew them out and then send them back down to practice.

catalina-island-deer

We also saw a deer while driving around in our little golf cart! We were both like, “Whoa. A deer.” Followed by, “How’d a deer get over here?”

We were stopped in the middle of the road when another family in a golf cart drove up and halted right behind us. I think there was a little moment of “WTF” going on and then the dad said, “Hey kids, look, a deer!”

This naturally made Jake and I laugh and snicker as we thought of the opening scene to Christmas Vacation. Heh heh.

above-avalon

This is a photo from the other side of Avalon. As we drove down one of the hills we watched some of the people zip lining down. It was a little freaky to watch. And then we were rewarded with this gorgeous view. A perfect day!

towards-the-casino-avalon

Then we drove down towards the Casino (that round building over there) and checked out the very small museum inside which detailed some history about Marilyn Monroe, Wrigley and the Chicago Cubs, and Charlie Chaplin.

We turned in our golf cart a little early to try and catch the shuttle to Buffalo Nickel, a restaurant offering a free birthday meal.

We sat by the pick up spot and waited… and waited… and waited some more. Finally I called to find out and they sent the shuttle out to get us which took another 10-15 minutes just to show up. Geez.

buffalo-nickel-restaurant

The Buffalo Nickel is NOT nearby the main part of town which is why they even have a shuttle to get there. I suppose it’s within walking distance if you really wanna travel but the shuttle is the way to go. Definitely call ahead!

buffalo-nickel-patio

It was nice out so we sat out on the patio. There’s a little waterfall out here that tries to distract you from the noise of the nearby helicopter port. They don’t let you just order water and we were forced to either get bottled water or drinks. I got an iced tea and Jake got a Coke and the iced tea tasted incredibly weird to me. Jake was nice and let me switch drinks with him. <3

buffalo-nickel-birthday-menu

There’s a whole menu filled with the various dishes you could get for your free birthday meal. They do ask to see your ID to verify that you’re not just wearing a ribbon for funsies.

wet-burrito-buffalo-nickel

[carnitas wet burrito / $10.95]

Jake got himself a wet burrito filled with carnitas. It was also filled with rice, beans, cheese and you have your choice of red or green sauce. He didn’t think it was the best burrito ever, but he thought it was decent enough. He kept giving me bits of his carnitas because he knew I wasn’t too happy with my food.

patty-melt-with-french-fries

[patty melt with fries]

The birthday menu states that this comes with fries and coleslaw and obviously I didn’t get any coleslaw. Luckily I didn’t really care since I don’t even like coleslaw. Maybe they sensed my coleslaw dislike. More likely they just didn’t have any. 

The french fries are crinkle cut which is my favorite french fry style. These fries were super greasy and tasted like little oil bombs going off in my mouth. Not really pleasant. 

I got my patty melt on sourdough since I detest rye bread.

crappy-patty

It’s a frozen patty with American cheese and semi-cooked onions. The bread looks like it was sort of buttered and then placed on a grill for maybe 5 seconds since it was not crisp and barely warm. The frozen patty was kind of gross. It was overcooked and greasy. The cheese was semi-melted and basically the whole sandwich was kind of disgusting. Well… at least it was free, I guess. Obviously they don’t care since it just seems like a tourist trap promotion anyway. I wish they would have at least grilled my bread. I guess that’s too much to ask for. 

After our lunch we waited for the shuttle to take us back into town and we headed over to a candy store so I could get my other birthday freebie.

Buffalo Nickel Restaurant
57 Pebbly Beach Rd.
Avalon, CA 90704
(310) 510-1323
Buffalo Nickel Restaurant on Urbanspoon

chocolate-counter-lloyds-of-avalon

Lloyd’s of Avalon is a candy store in the main square in Avalon. AKA Tourist Central. As we walked over to the candy shop I noticed TONS of people packed into that tiny shopping area with people hanging around or flitting in and out of stores. I told Jake I was super glad we got the golf cart rental since otherwise we’d be fairly confined to this area or have to hike a lot.

Lloyd’s has lots of chocolates and candies… and I love their Halloween theme going on here. 

candied-apples-lloyds

Plus candied apples.

taffy-lloyds

And loads of taffy. There’s actually another birthday promo for the taffy. If you buy 1lb. of taffy they will give a 1/4lb. for free. I passed on that offer.

jake-mini-arcade-game-candy

Jake found this little arcade candy box. So cute!

free-ice-cream-lloyds-avalon

The birthday promo I did go for was a free scoop of ice cream! They have a peanut butter ice cream with little mini peanut butter cups and ribbons of peanut butter. YUM. This was really yummy and I shared it with Jake.

Lloyd’s of Avalon
315 Crescent Ave.
Avalon, CA 90704
(310) 510-7266
Lloyd's of Avalon on Urbanspoon

jake-mary-avalon-catalina-island

We were done early and wandered back to the port so we’d be the first in line to get seats on the boat. We wanted our picture in front of this and Jake said, “I bet if we start taking photos of each other in front of this, someone will offer to take our photo.” He was right! 

Avalon/Catalina is totally and completely gorgeous and if you have the chance, I highly recommend taking a trip out there to visit! The birthday promo is good through 2014. They had the same promotion last year and extended it again for 2014. It seems to me like it’s a great idea so hopefully they’ll also extend it again for next year.

Author: Mary

Mary is a San Diego native and has been a food blogger for 11+ years. She is an avid reader, a lover of puppies, and loves trying new food. Foods she loves: sweets, peanut butter, pasta, Triscuit crackers with cream cheese, and extra nuts on top of her sundaes. Food she dislikes: pickles, really spicy food, runny eggs, olives, and too much arugula.

10 Replies to “catalina island birthday promo

  1. I hope they extend the birthday promo too. Was this a day trip? I hate boats! I get so seasick, especially when it tides get rough.

    They need a foodie revolution or something over there. They should send some quality chefs over there or something and step it up so that tourists leave with happy tummies.

    1. Hi Miss Kim – Yes, we just went for the day then stayed in LA for the night (need to fill up on LA food, you know!). Yeah, that food we had was terrible. The ice cream was good at least. I know you had terrible food there, too. Such a shame because it’s so beautiful but the food was so sucky! Bummer you get seasick! You should try eating/drinking something with ginger and taking the seasick pills (I’m sure you do).

  2. What a really great b-day deal; the only catch is having to go on your actual bday though. At least you had fun and got to ride around on a cart! very cool! Loved the photos – postcard worthy.

  3. the other catch is that most people don’t go alone so that usually offsets the free admission. kinda like those buy 1 get 1 free food deals. this year my bday is on a weekday so i won’t make it but at least i won’t be missing out on the buffalo nickel’s food!

    the scenic views are gorgeous! i would totally do the picture thing you guys did at the end. cuz people are just that nice.

    1. Hi Lynn – Catalina is too nice and romantic to go it alone! You definitely won’t miss out on the terrible food but maybe someday you’ll get to enjoy those pretty views 🙂

  4. Oh that looks like such a great trip. I didn’t think I’d get sea sick on the boat rides but strange that I did. I think the ride was choppier than I expected? Your pictures are so beautiful of the island. I loved the cute deer pic and you’re making it harder for me to eat venison (I don’t eat it anyways so your pic helps actually).

    You and Jake look so happy together so what more could you ask for this birthday 🙂

    1. I had deer once. It wasn’t that great. I’d rather look at the deer and see how cute they are instead of eating them. It was a really great trip! I remember feeling happy and very “go with the flow” that day with no worries or cares. It was awesome! Jake is an excellent traveling companion aka he lets me decide things most of the time heehee.

  5. I am going this year for my 50th bday. Going alone as my bday is on a monday. I actually prefer travelling alone and hope that I have as good an experience there as I have on my previous trips. Traveling alone is neat in that you have total control of what you are doing. If something comes up, you can just turn to it and try it out. It is also a great way of meeting new people. People seem to think that it is sad that I am spending my 50th alone, but, the following weekend I will be having a party, (Mothers day and Nephews bday are the weekend before) and I love seeing new places. All the comments about the food worry me. One would think that surrounded by water, they would have great seafood. If worse comes to worse, I can always try to catch something and cook it myself. LOL Thanks for the review and loved the pix.

    1. Hi John! I hope you have a wonderful time in Catalina! It is gorgeous there and the birthday deal is just too good to pass up. Maybe you will happen to get a better meal than I did at the freebie place but there are also other restaurants in town that might be better than this one. I mostly just went for the free stuff (for blogging purposes). Thanks for your nice comments! Enjoy your trip and happy birthday!

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