This weekend: The fish will fly on Catalina Island

By JD Rinne
October 3, 2012

Catalina Island, 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, plays host to thousands of flying fish every May through September. To celebrate these finned friends, the island is throwing the second annual Flying Fish Festival this weekend.

Festivities begin Thursday and last through Sunday, with lots of family-friendly fare. The schedule includes a street fair with theater performances, a professional sand sculpture display, touch tanks with local specimens, and all kinds of competitions: a kayak relay race, a sling shot competition, and peddle boat races. The four-day feat is capped off with a parade on Sunday.

If you want to get up close to the flying fish, take a nighttime boat tour. The fish, which can soar 30 feet in the air for distances up to a fourth of a mile, are often seen best in the dark, lured by lights from the boat.

Catalina Island, at 76 square miles, is a summer vacation destination for Californians. Fun fact: William Wrigley Jr. (of chewing gum fame) bought the island in 1919 sight unseen—based on reports of how lovely it is. With rocky hills and blue waters, Catalina has an almost Mediterranean feel.

Visit or call 866/772-9592 for more info. Most activities free. Boat tours are $21 for adults and $16 for kids; reservations recommended.

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Naturally, when Budget Travel heard that a new hotel was opening up in a great location in the heart of midtown New York, we were curious about it. But as soon as we found out that it is offering hip rooms for as little as $99 a night (for a short-term promotional rate), we had to check it out in person. Like three other Ace Hotels in Portland, Seattle, and Palm Springs, the Ace Hotel in Manhattan aims to embody the historical vibe of its building and neighborhood. The lobby shows off the original, key-pattern mosaic flooring of the restored 1904 building. Its east wall is covered in a collage of old stickers and graffiti tags from 90s street culture. A working photo booth sits directly under the collage, adjacent to the lounge, which has plaid colored chairs and cow-skin rugs. Overall, the lobby successfully blends punk music, local canvas and Japanese art, and a strange assortment of birds taxidermies. Ace is offering twin-size Bunk Bed rooms, recommended for two, starting at a special introductory rate of $99 per person. These include private bathrooms and a black concert roadie case turned refrigerator. The price will eventually go up to $169. For between $169 and $219, Standard and Cheap rooms offer queen or full-size beds. In these, you can play a custom Epiphone acoustic guitar or spin some vinyl records on a set of turntables. (Don't worry, you don't have to tote your own records around town. They provide some.) There are 258* rooms styled in various ways by local and international artists. Rooms come with private bathrooms and generally feature views of the NoMad neighborhood or the Empire State Building. The rooms also are equipped with free wireless Internet and a Philips flat screen TV. You can also gain access to four computer lab rooms, one on about every other floor. The hotel is home to Stumptown Coffee Roasters—the famous coffeeshop of Portland, Ore., which has chosen to open its first NYC branch on-site at the hotel. The hotel also houses the new Le Breslin restaurant. Finally, with the lobby bar serving the community from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Ace Hotel leaves you a feeling a bit more stylist than when you walked in. 20 W. 29th Street, New York, NY, 10001, 212/679-2222. —David Cumming MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 7 New York City hotels at a price that's right *Editor's note, May 22: We incorrectly reported the number of rooms the first time. There are 258 rooms at the Ace Hotel in New York City, and 58 different styles of decoration. We regret the error.


New York City: Free bikes for downtown visitors

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