USATourist News MagazineJanuary 2004
In this issue:
All of us who love to travel got a great Christmas present. And, we didn't even know it. The big news in travel around the last part of December was that six Air France flights between France and the USA were cancelled due to a terror alert. The UK has announced that it will place sky marshals on selected transatlantic flights. So, why is that good news? Because it tells all travelers that countries are working together so that the skies are safe. We couldn't ask for a better way to start 2004!
If you've ever been scheduled on a cancelled flight it can cause a bit of a hassle. Flight cancellations occur all over the world for reasons ranging from weather, staff shortages, terror alerts, labor disputes and other causes. To insure that your travel experience is the best that it can be, always take a few precautions.
That's it travelers. A few things you can do that change a disaster into a minor problem!
Many travelers want to schedule a trip to take in an event. So, if you are looking at travel during 2004 you might want to make a note of:
If you are headed to New York City soon, you'll want to take advantage of NYC Restaurant Week 2004. Winter restaurant week in New York City takes place January 26th through the 30th and February 2nd through the 6th. New York's best restaurants will offer three-course lunches for $20.04 and three-course dinners for $30.04. Check with the event web site, your hotel's concierge or with the tourist information office in New York City for names of participating restaurants.
The Spoleto Festival in 2004 runs from May 28th until June 13th.
The first Mardi Gras parade is January 3rd and Fat Tuesday is February 24th. While New Orleans means Mardi Gras to many of us in the USA you've also go the option of checking out Lafayette, Louisiana home of the state's second largest Mardi Gras celebration. Lafayette is home to an array of museums and it's a super place if you're interested in delving into Cajun and Creole culture. As an added bonus French-speaking visitors will find resources that will help them enjoy their stay in the states.
Spring Break 2004 starts at the end of February and runs until the third week in April in a variety of locations. What is Spring Break? It's an annual USA ritual where hordes of students emerge from the classrooms to frolic along the seashore often fueled with enormous amounts of beer. Some folks love it. Some folks hate it. But it's useful to be aware of it when you're planning a trip.
The Chicago Blues Festival 2004 takes place in Grant Park from May 29th until June first. It's the largest free blues festival on the planet. May 9th through May 12th are the dates for Art Chicago in 2004. Art Chicago fills 165,000 square feet of exhibition space in the Navy Pier's Festival Hall in Chicago.
March 22 through April 6th 2004, visitors to Washington DC will be treated to the delights of the Cherry Blossom Festival and Parade. The 3000 cherry trees that color the Tidal Basin were a gift from the Japanese in 1912. They herald spring in America's capital city.
June 22 through the 29th is Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Week in New York City. In 2004 250,000 marchers are expected to parade down Fifth Ave on June 29th.
From Mid-January until Mid-March is whale watching season in San Diego, California. If you are in the area you can watch gray whales from San Diego's Cabrillo National Monument. In Los Angeles tour boats from LA city harbors leave daily for whale spotting tours from early January until the end of March, the best time to see visiting gray whales.
With the Euro unusually strong against the US dollar lots of people are taking short breaks for shopping and sightseeing in New York City. If you are one of those fortunate folks don't let jet lag spoil your trip. Instead of trying to change to Eastern Standard Time, which is five hours behind GMT, compromise by moving between local time and your regular schedule. If you normally wake up at 7 GMT, have a bit of a lie in and wake up at 10 GMT --- that will get you up at 5 EST, while early it's not too early for most hotels to offer a room service breakfast. It's a lot easier than trying to switch your body clock over for a four-day stay. And if your travels take you to Las Vegas, you need not switch your schedule at all --- Las Vegas is a true 24-hour town.
Gas prices are lower than they've been in years so it's the perfect time for a Southwest Driving Tour. Average high temperatures in Las Vegas hit 19 degrees Celsius in February compared to a blistering 42 degrees in July. So, check out Corvette and other luxury car rentals or discount car rentals.
If you long for a Florida vacation and really want to avoid spring breakers, check out Florida Vacation Homes Rentals. They're the best choice for families and available in a range of choices from the elegant and romantic to huge houses suitable for lots of people. Vacation home rentals offer privacy and comfort and insure that you'll spend your holiday without running into a band of lager louts before breakfast.
It's the best time ever to see a Broadway show! Often shows offer discount tickets from early January into March when attendance is down. This year's Broadway bargains are better than ever. You can see "Little Shop of Horrors," from the best seats at the Virginia Theater for only $60. "Thoroughly Modern Millie," winner of the 2003 Tony Award for best musical, is selling $50 orchestra tickets for weeknights and $55 tickets for weekend performances. That's 50 percent of the normal price. "Phantom of the Opera" offers orchestra and front mezzanine tickets for $45 starting now and running until March 12.
Many visitors want to drive through the USA. Car travel is one of the best and most affordable ways to see a large part of the USA. But, in winter it's best to be flexible or stick to the southern states where weather isn't likely to cause you to change plans. Blizzards hit the northeast the first part of December and the California Oregon border at the end of the month. If you are visiting northern areas try to rely on public transport and take into account that bad weather could postpone your return travel.
If you do visit an area where it snows:
With hotels in 56 countries world wide Le Meridian has a well-deserved reputation for well-appointed rooms with every state-of-the-art accoutrement and superior service. Catering to the discriminating traveler they offer anything you'd want or need for business or pleasure stays. They're expensive; rack rate at their New York City property can easily reach four hundred dollars per night for a superior room. Our hotel search engine usually has special Internet rates for some of their hotels. You'll find Le Meridian Hotels or Resorts in Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, and Palm Springs. Expect four star or five star qualities throughout, gourmet food, and top technology in every room. Rooms are equipped with Internet access, flat screen TVs and other special features.
From one location seventy-five years ago in New York City to a small chain of around twenty-five restaurants all in major metropolitan areas this restaurant is American gourmet cuisine at its best. Originally the owners specialized in northern Italian food and their veal Marsala is still some of the best on offer in North America but through the years they've become an urban steakhouse par excellence serving food in legendarily large American portions without stinting on the seasoning or preparation. You can't go wrong with beef or lobster here and the starters and desserts are original, well presented and use fresh ingredients. Some regional variations in the menu use the best of local produce and area style but the core menu is a reliable set of "favorites." This is an expensive experience, expect to pay in the thirty-dollar range for an entrée and plan on a lengthy dining experience, food here is cooked to order far more than in the standard American restaurant. Unlike many meat-focused restaurants, the vegetables are excellent.
Unfortunately I owe some of you an apology. It seems (according to many of my friends) that some email problem has caused some of my email, both from people and from me to go missing. If you have written me and not got an answer within a week, please write me again --- I may not have received your email or my answer may not have reached you.
I'd love to know more about what sort of information you'd like to see in the newsletter or answer your questions about travel in the USA. You can email me at MsTravel (email address no longer active).
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