If you plan to stay overnight, be sure to reserve a room in advance because most places fill up quickly during the summer and holiday seasons. There are only a handful of hotels whose accommodations and amenities actually justify the rates that they charge. Some are downright scary, so book as far in advance as possible to get a room that makes the trip worthwhile. Don't stress too much over your accommodations, as you'll probably spend most of your time outdoors. Keep in mind that the best time to visit is in September or October when the water is warm, the crowds have somewhat subsided, and hotel occupancy is easier to come by. If you're having trouble finding a vacancy, try calling the Catalina Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau (310/510-1520); they keep daily tabs on last-minute cancellations. It's also easy to go the home-rental route.
Inexpensive — Our recommended choices for inexpensive lodgings are Hotel Catalina (800/540-0184 or 310/510-0027; www.hotelcatalina.com), a well-maintained 1916 verandah hotel just a half-block from the beach, with tons of charm, family cottages, a courtyard with beautiful stained glass, and large verandas with bay views. It's $115 to $265 based on whether you can see the water, plus a family room and a grand suite.
Zane Grey, a Hopi-style pueblo built in 1926 and former home of American author Zane Grey, used to be a top choice, but it's been under total renovation. Check to see if it's back in service. It's situated uphill, above town.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.