This is Southern California? No way.

Way. This is Catalina Island, just off the coast of Long Beach, Calif. That’s a view from the second stage of the Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour. (More on our adventures coming up soon on the National Geographic Traveler blog.)

It really looks like that. The building on the right is the Catalina Casino, which is the center of the island’s entertainment and culture since it opened in 1929. We stayed at the Pavilion hotel, just a few steps away from the harbor in Avalon.

Catalina is not at all what you’d expect to find in Southern California. It’s small, friendly and it feels like Europe in so many ways.