There’s something already special about riding a boat to your vacation destination, so this unusual site on Santa Catalina Island—a one hour cruise from Long Beach—has extra allure. From the island’s main village (and port) of Avalon, stroll through town and up the canyon to visit the 38-acre gardens, with a special emphasis on plants endemic to California islands. Don’t feel like walking? Do like the locals and rent a golf cart to explore the island (full-size rental cars aren’t allowed), or catch the public bus.
Within the garden is the striking stone memorial to William Wrigley Jr., who died in 1932. Head of the Wrigley chewing gum empire, he had a huge influence on the island’s history and development, buying roughly 90 percent of the island and protecting it as a private land conservancy. He also built steamships to improve access and put in utilities and key buildings, including the circular Catalina Casino, on the edge of the main harbor and one of California’s most striking buildings.