Sunday, September 30, 2012

Double Birthday on Birthday Island

I couldn't make this up if I tried!  My husband Ben and I have the same birthday (September 26th) but we are 3 years apart.  For our birthday this year we found out that Catalina Express was offering a FREE trip to and from the island on your birthday, sign us up!  We were joking around calling it Birthday Island, but when we got to the check in desk for the Catalina Express they handed us a page with all the deals for birthday people and at the top it actually said Birthday Island - that's right folks!

Here is the website for getting your free ticket to Catalina on your birthday:

We chose to leave out of Dana Point Harbor since my parents live close to it allowing us the chance to spend the night and get doggy daycare for the day!  FYI they try to charge you $12 for parking (normally parking is free at the harbor, but apparently you can only park for 4 hours on the side where the boat leaves from now, other parts are still limitless).  Therefore we parked our car right up the street and started the day with a little walk.

Shortly after check-in we were off for adventure!

As we approached the island the first recognizable thing we could see was the Casino.

The touristy section of Avalon along the beach was quite nice.  I loved the old charm and seeing that it was well cared for!

1st thing on our agenda was lunch!  Buffalo Nickel was offering a free meal for the birthday person, we had free food x2!  The food there was very good, we would even love to go back, if it was a bit closer...  To help make up for it we ordered beverages and left a nice tip!  One of our favorite parts was meeting this very sweet retired couple around on the free shuttle ride to the restaurant  we liked each other so much that we chose to eat lunch together and chatted it up!

 Although the restaurant offered a free shuttle we chose to walk our lunch off by walking back into town along the coast.  It allowed us to stop at the great viewing spots and snap a few pictures.

Then we headed off for a 1.7mile walk across the island to the Botanic Gardens and Wrigley Memorial.  We had no idea what to expect, the gardens were small but the memorial was very beautiful.

 Almost the entire thing was built out of materials found on the island.

Large bronze doors open on a flight of steps that takes you to the inner courtyard.

We just loved the tiles and the arches!

We met the nicest people on the island!  The lady at the check-in desk for the gardens was super friendly and our friends at lunch were awesome.  They passed us in their golf cart that they had rented and gave us a lift to the gardens, it couldn't have come at a better time as we were at the steepest assent up the hill.  THEN on our way back into town an off-road jeep tour-guide passed us and offered us a lift into town!

This worked out perfectly!  It got us back into Avalon with some extra time to spare so we stopped by Dessert Island for our free birthday scoops of ice cream   Since we were each getting a free scoop we splurged and bought the big sprinkle cone to put them in!

Then we were off again, time for our tour of the Casino!  (This is something we actually had to pay for, but it was totally worth it!)

Even the entryway was gorgeous!

The entry hallway curves as it goes around the building.

 Downstairs is the first ever theater designed for movies with sound.  The guide informed us that Radio City was modeled after this theater!

The murals along the walls were beautiful!

Upstairs is the dance floor   Originally it covered the entire distance from window to window and was the largest circular dance floor in the world! The beautiful chandelier lowers from the ceiling so that they can clean it and change the bulbs.

BenBen enjoying the view!

More beautiful curved ceilings!

As the day came to a close we had a few minutes to spare so Ben stopped to draw the Casino.

And then we were off sailing into the sunset!  (Technically we were sailing away from the sunset as we were sailing from West to East, but I don't think that really matters...)

Beautiful Dana Point Headlands on the left and the harbor lights starting to twinkle!

In all we figured that we spent $30 total for our lunch, ice cream cone and tour tickets.  Not bad for a big adventure day!  Having the same birthday rocks!  I wonder what we'll do next year!?!?!  Any suggestions??? 

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