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YOUTH BEAT

More Hostels Open in United States and Canada : Two publications list a total of 500 inexpensive lodgings, ideal settings for meeting young travelers from abroad.

July 18, 1993|LUCY IZON

Young travelers can find accommodations this summer at bargain rates of $5-$20 per night at close to 300 hostels in Canada and the United States that are affiliated with the Washington, D.C.-based Hostelling International network.

Sometimes the word hostel gives travelers the wrong impression. These facilities are part of a worldwide network of more than 5,000 locations in more than 60 countries, usually providing clean, safe and economical lodgings for travelers. Although the majority of people using the facilities are young, hostels in North America are open to travelers of all ages.

One of the greatest advantages of staying at hostels is that they provide an ideal setting for meeting other travelers, often from foreign countries. This can be a real advantage to the person traveling solo. The shared bunk rooms, lounges and guest kitchens encourage interaction.

In major gateway cities such as New York, Miami and Washington, the hostel staff can usually arrange extra services for guests. These can vary from discounts on local entertainment to neighborhood walking tours and barbecues.

There will be 180 Hostelling International facilities open in the United States this year, ranging from those in major urban centers such as Boston to popular vacation areas such as Cape Cod and Waikiki.

Among the newest U.S. hostels:

* A turn-of-the-century, Victorian home in historic Savannah, Ga. There is room for 15 guests, and the price is $11 per person, per night. Address: 304 E. Hall St.; telephone (912) 236-7744.

* A restored log building at Itasca State Park, Lake Itasca, Minn. This hostel, situated near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and once the park headquarters, can accommodate 34 guests at $12 each per night. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Guests can hike, bike, boat or swim. Address: Mississippi Headwaters Hostel, HC 05 Box 5-A, Lake Itasca, Minn. 56460; call (218) 266-3415.

* A new hostel sits next door to the Space Center Houston/NASA. Up to 18 people can be accommodated for $10.25 each per night. Address: Space City AYH Hostel, 2242 W. Bay Area Blvd., Friendswood, Tex. 77546; (713) 996-0323.

In Canada, the facilities range from a lake-side log cabin in the beautiful mountain setting of Whistler, British Columbia, to a renovated jail in the heart of the nation's capital, Ottawa. Hostels are well-situated for visiting famous sites such as Niagara Falls, or engaging in activities such as whale-watching along the St. Lawrence River.

Two of the newest locations are:

* Kamloops Old Courthouse Hostel, in Kamloops, British Columbia, about 250 miles northeast of Vancouver. Up to 92 people can be accommodated in the all-brick building, a former courthouse dating to 1909. The dining room is the former courtroom, complete with witness and prisoner boxes, jury seats and judge's bench. Cost is about $13 U.S. per night. Address: 7 W. Seymour St., Kamloops, B.C. V2C1E4, Canada; (604) 828-7991.

* Rocky Mountain Ranch Hostel, 10 minutes north of Sudbury, Ontario. This hostel is situated on a 230-acre horse ranch, which provides an ideal setting for riding, swimming, hiking or visiting local sites such as Science North, a science museum, and the Northern Ontario Animal Hospital, a wildlife rehabilitation center. The hostel has accommodations for 20, at about $12 U.S. per person per night. Address: 2881 Valleyview Road, Sudbury, Ontario P0M 1E0, Canada; (705) 897-4931.

The publication "Hostelling North America 1993-1994" provides details on all North American hostel locations. Copies are available free to all Canadian and American members of Hostelling International. Nonmembers can purchase copies for $5 from Hostelling International, 1434 2nd St., Santa Monica 90401; (310) 393-3413.

The annual Hostelling International adult membership is $25. Nonmembers are charged about $3 per night as a guest fee at most hostels.

The number of independent, private hostels catering to the same type of traveler is continuing to grow in North America. Private hostels share information about each other, and travelers can find out about them through travel guidebooks. Because they are independent entities, travelers can't always count on set standards, thus personal recommendations are often the most reliable guides.

A free list of about 200 North American and international independent hostels is available by contacting Backpackers Hostels Canada, c/o Thunder Bay International Hostel, Longhouse Village, R.R. No. 13, Thunder Bay, Ontario P7B 5E4, Canada; (807) 983-2042. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

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