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USATourist News Magazine

January 2006

In this issue:

Everyone here at USATourist would like to wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2006.

In this issue we are focusing on some of the highlights of the beautiful New England states. Plus, the Sheraton Hotels and Resorts have specials currently running if you book before January 31. We also have some information for you about the dangers of black ice and avoiding altitude sickness. Visit our home page for information on Winter Storms. www.usatourist.com

We also have an update on Mardi Gras and a few restaurants that offer free Wi-Fi high-speed internet access. We hope you enjoy this issue.

Upcoming events of 2006

It's a new year and time to be thinking about your travel plans to the United States. Whether you want to avoid the crowds or join in the fun here are some events in the first half of 2006.

February 23 -25 is the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest in Houston, Texas (HOU). The winners are then announced at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo held February 29 – March 19 www.hlsr.com

Roughly, March 11 – 19 is Spring Break, a week college and high school student's flock to the beaches for a week off of fun and partying. Hotels are full and the streets are crowded. Nearly every beach town in Florida is notorious for hosting spring break, especially Panama City, Daytona, and Miami South Beach. Other towns like South Padre Island, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada also have their share of students. You are also likely to see spring breakers in every ski resort from California to Maine.

March 17 is St. Patrick's Day which means you won't have a problem finding parades and celebrations with corned beef and cabbage and lots of green beer. Saturday March 11 Chicago hosts a huge St. Patrick's Day Parade and even dyes the Chicago river green for the occasion.

This year the Gathering of Nations Indian Powwow in Albuquerque, New Mexico is being held April 27-29. This is the largest Native American festival in the US and attracts thousands of people to enjoy music, dancing, and cultural food. www.gatheringofnations.com

The New Orleans Jazz Fest 2006 is still expected to go on April 28 - May 7 www.nojazzfest.com

New England

New England is one of the most charming sections of the United States. Its history, four seasons, and character will tempt you to return again and again. The six New England states include (starting in the south moving north) Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. To help you visually, here's a map of New England: www.visitnewengland.com/nemap.htm

When's the best time to visit? Honestly, all seasons have something special to offer. You may want to consider planning your trip immediately and take advantage of the Go Ski Card below (full day pre-paid ski lift passes to 14 ski area resorts in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine). If you plan on visiting in spring you can attend the 2006 New England Spring Flower Show held March 11 – 19 at the Bayside Expo Center Boston. Or, you can visit New Hampshire and see some of the 100 waterfalls in the White Mountains www.visitwhitemountains.com. Summer time is a great time to see New Hampshire's 54 remaining covered bridges. Originally there were 400 covered bridges but many were destroyed by fires, floods and neglect. The remaining bridges are treasured landmarks of the state www.nh.gov/nhdhr/bridges. Along the New England coast are other cherished attractions, lighthouses that are filled with history and nostalgia www.lighthouse.cc/menu.html. Or, you can explore Salem, Massachusetts and be taken back to the 1692 to the Salem Witch Trials. www.salemweb.com/guide/witches.shtml

If you wait until autumn to visit New England you will get to witness the stunning colors of fall foliage. We will go into more detail about New England's fall colors the closer we get to the season.

Go Ski Card (in New England)

Attention skiers and snowboarders: You can ski New England Mountains and Ski Resorts in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine for 1 Low Price with the Go Ski Card.

Smart Destinations, creators of the all-inclusive Go Card attraction products, have launched the New England skiing and snowboard product, the Go Ski Card. The Go Ski Card includes ski tickets and full day pre-paid ski lift passes to 14 ski area resorts in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

The Go Ski Card is available in 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7-day increments for use in any combination of days between December 15, 2005 and April 15, 2006. Each Go Ski Card is valid for one person per mountain per day and a Card can be used multiple days at one mountain or at any mix of mountains over the winter season.

All Go Ski Cards come with a free, full-color ski guidebook with descriptions of the participating New England ski area mountains, plus ski trail maps, ski mountain statistics, ratings of slope difficulty, and a listing of all special offers.

Here's a list of the New England resorts you will have access to:

  • Attitash Mountain Resort
  • Bretton Woods Mountain Resort
  • Ragged Mountain Resort
  • Gunstock Mountain Resort
  • Pats Peak Ski Area
  • Jay Peak Resort
  • Bolton Valley Resort
  • Ascutney Mountain Resort
  • Mad River Glen
  • Shawnee Peak Ski Area
  • Saddleback Maine
  • Wachusett Mountain Ski Area
  • Ski Butternut - The Berkshires Family Mountain
  • Blue Hills Ski Area (lift, lessons and rentals included)
Mark Twain House and Museum

The Mark Twain House and Museum is located in Hartford, Connecticut. This tribute to the legendary author Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) offers a glance into his life with manuscripts, photos, and more. Twain's home has many of the "new inventions" of the time including flush toilets and one of the first phones installed in a private residence. The 19–room Victorian mansion was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963 and restoration was near completion for the house's centennial in 1974. Today the Mark Twain House and Museum sees over 60,000 visitors a year. www.marktwainhouse.org

Springfield, Massachusetts

Springfield, Massachusetts is only a few miles away from Hartford and has quite a few offerings. Of the several times I visited the area I stayed at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel in downtown Springfield (Sheraton is offering Holiday Savings if you book before January 31, 2006 – see below). I highly recommend this hotel. It is in a great location and has many amenities including the Sheraton Athletic Club (it's the largest hotel health club west of Boston and also has a pool and scheduled massages). This hotel is with in walking distance to many excellent restaurants. One casual-dining restaurant I just love is the Red Rose Pizzeria on Main Street in downtown. The Italian entrees and the pizza are excellent and affordable, ranging from $8 to $12 for an entree. The portions are huge, so prepare to share a meal or plan on taking leftovers back to your room. There is usually a line, so go before you get hungry.

Also in the area is the German Student Prince Café. Opened since 1935, this upscale restaurant has an amazing dinner menu and an affordable lunch menu. Right around the corner is the Student Prince Delicatessen where you can grab a sandwich.

Basketball Hall of Fame

Springfield, Massachusetts is the birthplace of basketball so it only makes sense you will find the Basketball Hall of Fame here. It is not far from downtown (about 1.0 mi/1.6 km) and was recently renovated. As you drive down Interstate-91 you can't miss the building, it is in the shape of a basketball. During your visit you will learn about the inventor of basketball, James Naismith, the history of basketball and of course, the Hall of Fame. www.hoophall.com

Ben and Jerry's Ice cream tour

Vermont is home to the famous Ben and Jerry's Ice cream. Many of the ice cream flavors have fun names such as Cherry Garcia (named after The Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia), Phish Food (named after the band Phish) and The Gobfather. Tours are 30 minutes. Admission is: Adults: $3.00; Seniors $2.00; Children 12 & younger are free. There are ice cream samples at the end of the tour. Yum! www.benjerry.com

Historic U.S. Route 1

Historic U.S. Route 1 is a scenic way to see part of New England. U.S. Route 1 runs up the east coast from the Florida Keys to the New England states Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and Maine. In New England, Route 1 captures the essence of the area's history and culture while allowing many photo opportunities. I found this site that shares some of the stops along the way. www.visitnewengland.com/current_category.77/current_advcategory.311/companies_list.html

If you would like to stay in Maine this site lets you in on insider tips and "must see" locations, mile-by-mile: www.milebymile.com/main/United_States/Maine/United_States_1_1/United_States_Maine_road_map_travel_guides.html

Little Italy in Providence, Rhode Island

Federal Hill, also known as Little Italy, was originally home to many Irish settlers but in the early 1900's thousands of Italian immigrants immigrated to the area. By 1930 nearly 20% of Providence's population was Italian.

Today, this Providence, Rhode Island neighborhood welcomes visitors with a large pigna (pinecone) hanging from an arch over the main street, Atwells Avenue. The pigna is an Italian symbol of abundance and quality. The area is full of Italian cafes, restaurants and bakeries. It truly is one my favorite spots to enjoy authentic Italian food and sip a cappuccino on one of the many outdoor patios. www.pwcvb.com/visitors

New England Airports

Below is a list of New England airports and their city codes for easy booking:
Springfield, Connecticut/Hartford, Connecticut -- Bradley International Airport (BDL)
Boston, Massachusetts -- Logan International Airport (BOS)
Manchester, New Hampshire -- Manchester Airport (MHT)
Portland, Maine -- Portland International Jetport (PWM)

You can also fly into: New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
New Jersey's Newark International Airport (EWR)

We can help you book your flight by simply clicking on this link: www.usatourist.com/english/reservations/Reservations-Flights.html

Hotel of the month – Sheraton Hotels and Resorts

Holiday Savings at East Coast Sheratons! Book by January 31, 2006.

As the largest of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. brands, Sheraton serves the needs of both business and leisure travelers. Offering the entire spectrum of comfort - from full-service hotels in major cities to luxurious resorts by the water - Sheraton can be found in the most sought-after cities and resort destinations.

Business travelers enjoy convenient on-site services
With a wide variety of on-site business services, a full range of amenities and rooms that feature generous work spaces, Sheraton is the choice of savvy business travelers who need to stay productive on the road. Innovative services include an Airport Hotels Program five Sheraton Gateway Hotels in the U.S. and Canada (Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Toronto). This industry-leading program offers unique features such as Day Break Service with shorter stays at 50% off the regular a Transit Survival Kit containing important personal care items such as a toothbrush, t-shirt, face cream, razor, deodorant, mouthwash, slippers, comb/brush and other useful stopover items

Leisure travelers love the vacation hot spots
For the perfect vacation destination, look no further than Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. Whether you're visiting the world's most popular beaches in Hawaii and Florida, or exploring cultural capitals, you can look forward to the comfort of Sheraton's perfect home-away-from-home.

Great Rates for AAA members at Sheraton’s Worldwide! Book by January 31, 2006.

Services for Leisure Travelers
Family-Friendly
With a choice of more than 50 Sheraton Resorts at enticing destinations including Hawaii, California, Florida, and Arizona, leisure travelers can plan the perfect vacation. While staying at a Sheraton, guests can ski the slopes of Colorado or enjoy a challenge on the Arizona links. Sheraton Resorts offer a wide variety of on-site activities for the entire family, ranging from golf and tennis to snow-skiing, water sports, pampering spas and more.

Kids Stay Free
Your kids are Sheraton's kids. Kids stay free at Sheraton Hotels & Resorts as long as they are staying with an adult and using existing bedding. And most Sheratons offer the convenience of babysitting services, either through hotel staff or a bonded service, giving parents the freedom to enjoy a little time on their own.

Sheraton Service Promise
If you're not satisfied, we're not satisfied. Sheraton's Service Promise ensures you'll have a great stay, or we'll make it up to you with an instant discount, points for our rewards program - or even money back. All you have to do is tell us.

Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed
In 2002 Sheraton introduced a whole new level of comfort - the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed. Setting a new standard for hotel beds, the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed is a custom designed plush top mattress set, a cozy fleece blanket, a plump duvet and five cushy pillows. See for yourself, sink into the cozy comfort of the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed.

What's the difference? Let's talk chowder

As you travel the United States you may notice two different types of clam chowders on restaurant menus: Manhattan Clam Chowder and New England Clam Chowder. The difference between the two is that the Manhattan is red and made with tomatoes as a primary ingredient and the New England Clam Chowder is white and made with milk as a primary ingredient. Which one is better? That's a tough one. You will have to sample both then decide for yourself.

Winter Travel Tips

Black ice can sneak up on you

Black ice is an ongoing danger facing drivers during winter and early spring months. It is caused by snow melting then re-freezing. The ice is very difficult to see which makes accidents likely to occur. While driving in freezing temperatures, drive at a slower speed than normal and to give plenty of room between your car and the cars in front of you. Avoid making any sudden turns or passing of other cars. If your car does happen to hit some black ice and begins to skid don’t break, but rather steer in the direction you want to go and release the gas pedal gently so the tires can regain traction.

When you drive in winter weather:

  • Always wear seatbelt.
  • Turn on your headlights.
  • Use caution while driving on bridges and overpasses.
  • For emergencies it's a good idea to have blankets, extra clothes for layering, first aid kit, flashlight, cellular phone, snacks and water
  • If you are renting a car ask the company what they recommend you have with you before beginning your journey.
Avoid altitude sickness while skiing

Skiing is one of the most exciting sports to partake in during the winter months. But if you are from a lower altitude your body will not be used to the thinner air and lower oxygen levels. This can trigger altitude sickness, an illness that occurs above 8000 feet (2,438.40 meters). Altitude sickness usually occurs with in the first three days. Rather than hitting the slopes as soon as you arrive it's a better idea to allow your body to acclimate to the higher altitude by partaking in some easy exercise or simply exploring the town by foot for a day or two. The closer you live to sea level, the more time you will want to spend acclimating. When you do decide it's time to enjoy the snow remember to take it slow and drink plenty of water. Health experts also recommend avoiding fatty foods and alcohol.

How do you know if you have altitude sickness? The most common symptoms are similar to the flu: headache, vomiting or nausea, and sleeplessness. More serious symptoms include breathing problems and confusion. If you encounter any problems don't hesitate to contact a doctor or visit the emergency room at the local hospital. For more info: http://familydoctor.org/247.xml

"Throw Me Sumthin' Mistah!" will be heard in New Orleans in 2006

"Throw Me Sumthin' Mistah!" is a phrase associated with Mardi Gras. It's used by parade watchers begging for beads and deblumes (that have the parade's name embedded on them.) Despite the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina New Orleans is determined to celebrate the 150th annual Mardi Gras. Eight days between February 18 and February 28 (Fat Tuesday) have parades scheduled to follow the traditional Uptown route (Napoleon Avenue, down St. Charles, through the Warehouse District and downtown area to Canal Street).

Air travel news of the month: TSA (Transportation Security Administration) shortens prohibited items list

Right before the Christmas holiday TSA made some changes to the prohibited items list. Scissors with a cutting edge of four inches or less and tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers smaller than seven inches are now being permitted on board. If the scissors or tools surpass the length limit they will be confiscated. TSA also says crowbars, drills, hammers, and saws are still prohibited and lighters are still banned from the cabin of aircraft and in checked baggage.

Some restaurants that offer free Wi-Fi high-speed internet access

As we have mentioned in previous newsletters free Wi-Fi high-speed Internet access is growing. We like to keep you up to date on what locations have Internet access available so you have an easy time accessing the Internet while you travel. This month we have three restaurants to mention.

Panera Bread bakery-cafes have 732 Wi-Fi enabled locations. Panera has delicious breads as well as sandwiches, soups, salads, and pastries. www.panerabread.com/wifi.aspx

Schlotzsky's Deli has 37 Wi-Fi enabled locations Wi-Fi enabled locations. Schlotzsky's is a sandwich shop that prides itself in using fresh bread for their sandwiches. www.schlotzskys.com/wireless.html

Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar has around 150 Wi-Fi enabled locations. Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar is a sports bar with a full menu (including their famous Buffalo Wings). It is one of the Top 10 Fastest-Growing Restaurant Chains in the country. You can play trivia on the NTN system and watch games on one of the many big-screen TVs. www.buffalowildwings.com

Thanks for reading this month's issue. Over the next few months we will be exploring The Wild West, Alaska, and the Northwest United States. Our next issue will have information on TV and movie filming locations you can visit. If there's something you would like to see in the newsletter please e-mail me by clicking on my name below. Happy Travels!

Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair


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