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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 Island ferry

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Transportation to Catalina has changed dramatically over the years. Photo courtesy of the Permanent Collection of the Catalina Island Museum.

Transportation to Catalina has changed dramatically over the years. Photo courtesy of the Permanent Collection of the Catalina Island Museum.

For thousands of years, transportation to Catalina Island – then known as Pimu – involved a hand-crafted dugout canoe and paddle power. Generations of native islanders traveled back and forth to trade with the mainland using these canoes and a comprehensive understanding of the ocean and its moods.

Once the island began to be developed as a resort, Catalina transportation took on a whole new look. Steamers and seaplanes were the way to get to Catalina Island for decades with hundreds of thousands of travelers crossing the channel to visit the island.

These days, riding the ferry to Catalina Island takes just about an hour – and while the ferry captains have a deep understanding of the ocean, you don’t have to. Regular Catalina ferries are available from two companies who between them operate four ports in two counties. Catalina Express operates several daily round trips year round from San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point. Catalina Passenger Services operates seasonally from Newport Beach with their large Catalina Island ferry, the Catalina Flyer.

For Catalina summer campers, there’s another option for Catalina ferry service. Catalina Classic Cruises, which provides charter transportation services to a number of summer camps located on the front side of the island, also operates from Long Beach.

CIVR Blog: Pleasure Pier Catalina

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A stroll on the Pleasure Pier is a must while on Catalina Island

A stroll on the Pleasure Pier is a must while on Catalina Island

Avalon’s green Pleasure Pier on Catalina Island is one of its most distinctive landmarks. The bright green color, affectionately known as Pier Green by locals, draws the eye, promising summer fun with a unique island flair. Home to several businesses, ticket offices and government agencies, the pier is also a favorite spot for a stroll, both when bustling with business in the afternoon or calm and relaxing in the early morning hours.

The Pleasure Pier was not always the only pier in Avalon. For decades, the shorter, wider Steamer Pier hosted the steamships that brought thousands of visitors to Avalon for generations. Visitors would leave the ship, often after tossing a coin for the young men – and women – who would dive to the bottom of Avalon Harbor to thrill the tourists and make plenty of pocket change in the process. Located to the left of Antonio’s Cabaret, the Steamer Pier was torn down after falling into disuse and disrepair.

Today, a walk down the green Pleasure Pier is must for nearly every visitor to Catalina Island. In the summer months, an extension provides a home for the Avalon Harbor Patrol’s fleet of patrol boats as well as Island Navigation’s water taxis. Fishing from the pier is a popular activity with visitors both young and old angling for kelp bass, perch and more. Parasailing, scuba diving and water tours can all be arranged from the pier as can the rental of a fleet of small vessels. The Avalon Harbor Department office is located at the end of the pier, Baywatch Avalon’s paramedics have their office in the middle of the pier and the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce operates its visitors’ services center at the base of the pier. Shopping and dining are also available at various spots on this iconic landmark.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island transportation

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Avalon is where most Catalina visitors arrive.

Avalon is where most Catalina visitors arrive.

Transportation to Catalina Island comes in many forms. For most travelers, getting to the island involves a ride with one of two Catalina Island ferry companies. With an array of daily round trips from San Pedro, Long Beach or Dana Point, Catalina Express brings most travelers to the island. Catalina Passenger Services, which operates from Newport Beach, offers a daily trip in the summer season aboard the Newport Flyer. While Catalina ferries are the most popular mode of transportation, they are far from the only way to get to the island. Island Express operates scheduled helicopter service to Catalina from San Pedro and Long Beach and their services can be chartered from other area airports. Private planes offer an option for flights to Catalina Island and hundreds of thousands arrive on the island via private boat.

For tens of thousands of Catalina Island travelers their first visit to Catalina Island is aboard a cruise ship. Each week, Carnival Cruise Lines visits Avalon on Mondays and Tuesdays, bringing more than 2,000 visitors each day. In the spring and fall, additional lines bring their passengers to the island as part of repositioning cruises. For many of those passengers, their Catalina port visit becomes love at first site and marks the first of many Catalina Island vacations.

CIVR Blog: Santa Catalina icon

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Packy Offield's influence on Catalina Island is immeasurable.

Packy Offield’s influence on Catalina Island is immeasurable.

Over the last century, several individuals have forged an enduring impact on Santa Catalina Island. William, Joseph & Hancock Banning. William Wrigley, Jr. Malcolm Renton. PK Wrigley. Another man whose impact on the island will last for generations is Paxson “Packy” Offield. For decades, Packy’s influence and love of the island permeated not only the Santa Catalina Island Company and the Catalina Island Conservancy, but also the very fabric of the island community itself. With a generous spirit and faith in others, Packy led both SCICo and the Conservancy through three decades.

Packy’s great grandfather was William Wrigley, Jr., so his love of the island was part of his genes. While he quietly and generously supported dozens of island organizations and initiatives, he also supported international conservation organizations, including the Peregrine Fund, the International Gamefish Association and the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies. The ocean, particularly billfish, was his passion and thanks to his generosity and dedication our understanding of these ocean denizens is much greater.

After a valiant battle with leukemia, Packy passed away on June 14. His impact on the natural world, Santa Catalina Island and those who knew and loved him will be eternal.