CIVR Blog: Cocktails on Catalina Island

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A raid on Vinegar Hill during Prohibition.

A raid on Vinegar Hill during Prohibition.

When most visitors think of alcohol on Catalina Island, they envision a tropical drink with a paper umbrella, a bucket of beer on the sand at Descanso Beach or a bottle of fine wine at a great restaurant. While that may be the current reality of Catalina alcohol, the history – particularly during Prohibition – is much more entertaining.

When the 18th amendment banning alcohol nationwide was implemented in 1920, along with the Volstead Act, which authorized its enforcement, Southern California was a much different place. The population was many magnitudes less, but like the rest of the country the Roaring ‘20s were – for most people – a time to circumvent Prohibition. Long a haven for smugglers, Catalina Island quickly became a stopping point and rendezvous point to avoid US Revenue Agents. Illegal booze was brought down from Canada and up from Mexico and smugglers made Catalina a favorite point to stash their stash before arranging for it to be brought to speakeasies on the Southern California mainland.

Residents on Catalina Island also made their own booze, particularly the Slavic immigrants who made wine on the hill between Whitley and Marilla avenues. Vinegar Hill, as it became known, was home to at least one now picturesque raid by revenuers.

These days, finding cocktails on Catalina Island is a simple matter of choosing your favorite watering hole.

A raid on Vinegar Hill during Prohibition.

A raid on Vinegar Hill during Prohibition.

CIVR Blog: CIVR Conserves

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Shower timers have been installed in all Catalina Island properties.

Shower timers have been installed in all Catalina Island Vacation Rentals properties.

Like most of California, Catalina Island is hoping that this fall will bring copious amounts of rain. For the last several years, water has been in short supply on the island – drought has been unrelenting and rainfall amounts have been significantly below average. Thanks to Catalina Island’s desalinization plant and the dedication to conservation shown by both visitors and locals alike, the island’s water supply continues to provide enough water; without significant rain this fall, however, stringent new conservation measures will have to be implemented.

Catalina Island Vacation Rentals has worked diligently with its guests, employees and homeowners to make a difference in Catalina Island’s water woes. For the last several months, CIVR has implemented several water conservation initiatives in all of its properties. Each home has a shower timer and guests are encouraged to limit showers to five minutes or less. Guests are also encouraged to limit water usage during their vacations, including using paper plates and plastic utensils, limiting dish washing and shutting off the water while brushing their teeth. Additional water conservation tips are available on CIVR’s website and are shared while guests check in at the CIVR office.

While indications are that this fall will bring significant rain thanks to El Nino, continued conservation efforts are prudent.

CIVR Blog: Catalina wine mixer

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Wine fans will find plenty to taste this September

Wine fans will find plenty to taste this September

This September is shaping up to be the perfect month to mix wine and a Catalina Island getaway. Two great wine events in Avalon will make for an ideal excuse for every oenophile.

The first event will bring a legendary festival to life at the Descanso Beach Club. Inspired by an event central to the action in the comedy StepBrothers, the Catalina Wine Mixer will bring together wine-tasting, gourmet food, live music and more on Sunday, Sept. 13. Headlined by the The Dan Band, seen in movies like The Hangover and Old School, the Catalina Wine Mixer will be $35 for adults and $20 for children.

Less than a week later, the Catalina Island Wine Festival will bring together more than 70 wineries along with appetizers, live music and an irresistible silent auction. The annual event is a primary fundraiser for the Catalina Island Women’s Forum’s mentoring program and attracts hundreds of locals and visitors alike. Scheduled this year for Sept. 19, the Catalina Island Wine Festival will take place on South Beach, near Crescent and Claressa avenues, from 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $80 and are available online.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island summer

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Catalina’s warm waters are calling.

Southern California’s recent heat wave sometimes makes it difficult to remember that fall is just around the corner, but the time available for a summer getaway is quickly running out. Fortunately, one of the best times for a Catalina summer getaway is the last time for a Catalina summer getaway.

Santa Catalina Island has seen record crowds this summer, with perfect weather and a wealth of new activities and experiences creating an irresistible combination for Southern California travel enthusiasts. Most Catalina island visitors think they’ve got to wait until fall to beat those summer crowds, but the last two weeks of August often offer a chance for a Catalina Island summer vacation without quite as many fellow travelers. Many schools are back in session beginning August 24 and for those that aren’t, parents are often making last minute preparations for when school does start. For those who can escape school obligations, Catalina Island in late summer offer the perfect respite from the mainland, with cooler temperatures, sea breezes and a carefree attitude perfect for this idyllic Island.

Catching that last wave of summer for a Catalina Island vacation is even easier, thanks to Catalina Island Vacation Rentals. CIVR will be offering an end-of-summer special offer of 50 percent off on stays between August 23 and August 27 (must reserve by August 22, certain restrictions apply).

CIVR Blog: Avalon library

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Avalon Library

Avalon Library

Catalina Island visitors have a wide range of opportunities to discover the many adventures of this Southern California vacation destination, but for many travelers a Catalina Island vacation wouldn’t be a vacation without some time spent on the beach with a good book. Or some time spent posting photos on Facebook. Or even some quick time checking email.

All of that – and more – can happen at the Avalon branch of the Los Angeles County Library. With a generous collection of best sellers, as well as children’s books, non-fiction, a travel section and DVDs, the Avalon library is popular with visitors and locals alike. Anyone who resides in the state is eligible to apply for a library card and – just in case you forget to return your book before you leave, books can be returned to any Los Angeles County library branch. The Avalon library also features free wifi and computers available for public use.

Recently the Friends of the Avalon Library received a grant and they are currently developing a series of educational lectures that will be focused on Catalina Island.

The Avalon Library is located at 215 Sumner Avenue. The library is closed on Sunday and Monday, but has generous hours the other five days. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday it is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, the Avalon Library is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

CIVR Blog: Catalina art festival

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art festival 2

Fall is festival season in Avalon and one of the biggest festivals is also the oldest. For more than half a century, the Catalina Island Festival of Art has brought artists and art fans together in the middle of September. Scheduled this year for Sept. 18 to 20, this popular weekend attracts artists from throughout the country, who set up booths along Crescent Avenue, sharing their inspiration and creations with hundreds of art fans who return year after year for the festival.

Free for the public, the Catalina art festival provides a wealth of opportunities to experience – and purchase – art in a variety of mediums, including oil, photography, watercolors, mixed media and crafts. Catalina Island itself is a frequent inspiration, with much of the art created either on or about Santa Catalina. A children’s art competition brings out some of the next generation of artists, who vie for a prizes including an array of art supplies.

The festival is organized by the Catalina Art Association, one of Catalina Island’s oldest organizations. In addition to the Catalina art festival in September, the association also organizes a spring festival and operates an art gallery in the lobby of US Bank.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Family Reunion

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Undersea Expedition

Undersea Expedition

Catalina Island, with its wide range of activities and easy access from the Southern California mainland is a destination for all reasons and seasons. One of the best special occasions to get away to Santa Catalina Island is a family reunion. Avalon offers a number of relaxing spots for catching up with family or bond together over an exciting new activity like parasailing, ziplining or snorkeling. Dining options run the gamut from burgers and fries for the kids to culinary creations sure to please even the pickiest foodies in the family.

Catalina Island Vacation Rentals is the perfect choice for Catalina family reunion accommodations. With quaint cottages, exclusive Hamilton Cove Villas and Avalon condos all available, CIVR offers Catalina Island family lodging options for just about any budget. All the comforts of home mean your family will be able to spend time together over a meal – and argue over who gets dish duty. As the day comes to close, your Catalina Island vacation rental will come to be your home away for home, with room for relaxing, family game night or just long talks into the wee hours.

CIVR Blog: Shopping on Catalina

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Grocery shopping on Catalina Island will soon be an entirely different experience, thanks to a recent decision by the Avalon City Council. The decision allows Vons to begin construction on a brand-new grocery store, in the center of Avalon.

Located on Beacon Street between Catalina Avenue and Sumner Avenue, the new store will have off-street parking for both golf carts and full-size vehicles. It will replace a dirt parking lot and the shuttered Wilcox Nursery. The location was chosen to allow easy access for visitors and residents. With 20,000 square feet of space, the new store will offer plenty of room for grocery shopping on Catalina Island. The new Vons will however, be about a third of the size of an average Vons on the mainland. The new store will replace the two current Vons stores, both of which were dated and in need of extensive renovations.

Vons executives initially shared their plans for the new store about a year ago. Residents and visitors have both had extensive opportunities to review the plans for the store and its proposed location. Construction is expected to begin within the next few months.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Girlfriends Getaways

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Activities for all interests abound on Catalina Island

Activities for all interests abound on Catalina Island

Getting away from it all can be the perfect way to relax and reconnect with friends. Whether it’s your old friends from college, your new friends from work or your very best friends, taking the time to spend time together is often the glue that binds friendships for the long-term. A Catalina girlfriends’ getaway will be an experience you and your compadres will cherish forever.

With an array of activities available for every interest, things to do on Catalina Island include hikes to remarkable vistas, underwater exploration via scuba or snorkel and tours for every interest such as history, culinary and nature. Parasailing, mountain biking and golf are available as are swimming, sunbathing and – most importantly – relaxing. You’ll find plenty of Catalina Island dining options and Avalon shopping offers something for everyone.

A vacation rental on Catalina Island is perfect choice for accommodations for your Southern California girlfriends’ getaway. With plenty of space to spend time together or a little time apart, plus all the comforts of home, vacation rentals offer a cost-effective alternative to traditional Catalina lodging. Planning your girlfriends’ getaway on Catalina Island is easy, thanks to Catalina Island Vacation Rentals’ easy-to-use website – or if you prefer to go old school, reservation staff.

Guest Blogger: Two Harbors Casas

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Photo credit: Let’s Play OC!

We stayed at the beautiful Casa Santa Cruz, a renovated modern rental home in Two Harbors that’s centrally located with views of both harbors seen throughout the house. It can accommodate 8 comfortably with three bedrooms (each has a view of a harbor, the master has a view of both harbors), two full restrooms, a loft with a pull-out bed and DVD player, full kitchen, dining area, a living room, and two patios. Amenities include a full washer/dryer, dishes, silverware, a BBQ, and cookware.

NOTE: There is no WIFI in the rental, however, there is free WIFI next to the restaurant.

After we played in the water all day, we picked up supplies and ingredients from their General Store to make dinner every night. They had all the tools we needed. It doesn’t get much better than this. How would you like to dine every night with a breathtaking view of Isthmus Cove from your patio?

Isthmus Cove, Two Harbors CA Catalina Island Photo by (c) LetsPlayOC.com 798

Photo credit: Let’s Play OC!

There is one restaurant, one general store, campgrounds, and a recreational center where you can rent bikes, kayaks, snorkeling, SCUBA gear, and umbrellas, etc.

What to Pack:
Beach Towels (there are towels in the rental but they are white),
Groceries and ingredients (plan your meals ahead),
Music (It’s like a party house with plenty of seating throughout the house),
Bug Spray (don’t forget to apply it in the evening),
Warm clothing for nightly walks, and
Your favorite DVD’s for movie nights (they have a great selection there too).

Written by Mary Tran. Mary is a mom of two boys who blogs about family fun things in Orange County at LetsPlayOC.com. To read more about Mary’s Tips for Two Harbors and staying at Casa Santa Cruz, please visit: http://www.letsplayoc.com/2015/07/catalina-island-vacation-rental-casa-santa-cruz-two-harbors.html

Disclosure: We received a media rate. All opinions are our own.