In an effort to step up security during the Republican National Convention, Amtrak is requiring passengers to make reservations for nearly all its trains that serve New York City from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2.
Pennsylvania Station, Amtrak's busiest, is near Manhattan's Madison Square Garden, site of the convention. Amtrak said extra security measures might cause some delays. It urged passengers to carry photo ID and put identification tags on bags.
For updates, call (800) USA-RAIL (872-7245) or visit http://www.amtrak.com .
Otter-care apprentice program
Teens can help aquarists care for otters in one of several behind-the-scenes programs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
In "Sea Otter Care," for ages 14 to 18, visitors spend three hours preparing treats such as "shrimp-cicles" (frozen shrimp and water in a tube) for the otters, participating in training sessions and more.
The sessions, offered Fridays and Sundays, are limited to three people and are pricey: $195 for aquarium members, $230 for non-members. General admission, $19.95 for those 13 and older, is not included. Reservations are recommended.
The program is part of the Aquarium Adventures series, opened to all visitors this summer after being offered to members last year. (831) 648-4800, http://www.montereybayaquarium.org .
W Hotels, Westin and Ritz-Carlton tied for the best beds in a recently released annual survey of guests' satisfaction with 64 chains by J.D. Power and Associates, a marketing information services firm based in Westlake Village, Calif. Next in line were Four Seasons, Fairmont and Wingate Inns.
Beds were a big factor in guests' ratings of rooms, topping costs, services and other factors in determining whether a guest would return.
Ritz-Carlton relinquished the top spot to Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in guests' overall ratings of luxury chains this year.
More visitors to the Grand Canyon
The number of tourists visiting Grand Canyon National Park has risen this year, mirroring what appears to be a national trend.
Between January and June, nearly 2.2 million people visited the park, up 7.2% from the same time last year. Jim O'Sickey, a fee and revenue analyst with the park service, said the figure this year could match or beat the park's record 4.9 million visitors in 1999.
The country's 388 national park units are experiencing a similar trend, said David Barna, a Park Service spokesman.
— Compiled by