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USATourist News Magazine by Elizabeth Blair
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USATourist News Magazine

February 2010 - The U.S. South

In this issue:

Welcome to the February issue of the USATourist News Magazine. Last month we took our readers to various cold-weather, skiing locations. This month we're heading to the South where you won't find ski hills or snowmen (normally). Instead, beaches, bayous, rivers and oceans mark these cities. These parts have a much warmer climate than the mountain clad states. However, this winter has been unusually cold with freezing in much of the South and Southeast regions which is extremely rare.

Little Cuba

Florida is known as the Sunshine State for good reason. The sunny skies and moderate temperatures make it an ideal vacation experience. Miami, Florida, nicknamed Little Cuba for its rich Cuban influence, sits near the southern tip of the state and is one of the most diverse cities in the United States. City highlights include Coconut Grove, bordered by Biscayne Bay and lined with over 100 shops, boutiques and restaurants. The beautiful area is a haven for artists and writers looking for inspiration.

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens is a National Historic Landmark built in 1916 by agricultural industrialist James Deering. The property features the main house, ten acres of formal gardens and a historic village.

About 45 minutes from the city is Miami Metrozoo a 290-acre complex with a variety of animals. Guests are separated from the animals by a moat which means there is no obstruction between visitors and the guests - perfect for taking photos.


With restaurants, shops, museums and nightlife, the San Antonio Riverwalk is a great way to spend the day!
© Mike Leco / USATourist.com

Travel tip: Why stay in a hotel when you can take advantage of fully furnished Miami Beach apartments for you and your family. You'll find quality, space, location and most importantly a great price. There is a wide range of Miami Beach vacation rentals, from studios to one and two bedroom apartments.

The Big Easy

If you want to see New Orleans at its liveliest, this is it - the month of Mardi Gras. Starting in January, towns throughout the state begin throwing Mardi Gras parades with lavishly decorated floats while Krews on board fling Mardi Gras beads, coins and other paraphernalia. On the last weekend before Fat Tuesday New Orleans is in full swing with jazz, parades and lots of out of town guests. The French Quarter is the perfect location to stay in New Orleans which means rental cars are not necessary since nearly every main attraction is within walking distance or a cab ride away - Bourbon Street being the most popular.

St. Louis Cathedral is a classic landmark, as the oldest continuously active cathedral in the U.S. Across the street sits the famous Café Du Monde, known for their powder sugared beignets and coffee. If you missed Mardi Gras this year, plan to attend next year or aim for the New Orleans Jazz Festival in the spring.

Mission City

San Antonio, Texas is one of the state's most historic and charming cities and is especially treasured for the five missions located along the San Antonio River. The first mission was erected in 1718 and is the most well known of the group: The Alamo. The other four include San Jose, San Juan, Conception and Espada. Today the Alamo is a visitor's center and museum and has been under the care of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas since 1905. The other four missions are active Catholic Church parishes. The public is welcome to attend Mass during service hours.

Tucson Saguaro Cactus'

You'll find plenty of giant Saguaro Cactus' near Tucson. The man in the center of the photo gives a good perspective on just how big these plants can get!
© Elizabeth Blair

San Antonio's lure doesn't stop with the historic missions. Other fun stops include the Tower of the Americas, a 750-foot (229 m) observation tower with a restaurant at the top. It was designed by San Antonio architect O'Neil Ford for the 1968 World's Fair. Sea World and Six Flags Fiesta are the two large theme parks.

The San Antonio River Walk is another lovely experience and actually the city's number one attraction. The district is filled with shops, eateries, museums, hotels and history and perfect for spending a nice day outdoors.

The Old Pueblo

Tucson, Arizona is near and dear to my heart since I lived there for eight years. It is one of the best bets for a warm climate in the United States. January and February offer very mild winters and the year-round sunshine makes for a guaranteed pleasant-weather experience. Summer months do see rain showers, but they come and go very quickly. The summers are hot which means hotels and attractions are a bargain.

Arizona History Museum features the bygone days of Southern Arizona's cowboys and Indians from the Spanish colonial to territorial eras. Look for personal artifacts that belonged to legendary figures such as Geronimo and Wyatt Earp. Admission is free the first Saturday of each month.

Despite Tucson being a warm location, a short drive up Mount Lemmon in the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains is home to the southernmost winter ski resort in the United States. If skiing is not your forte, there are plenty of sledding hills or during the warmer months find hiking trails, fishing and camping.

Fort Lowell Park and Museum is one of the city's most historic parks in the city. The fort was erected in the 1800s to protect the city of Tucson from Apaches. Today, there is a museum displaying military artifacts. Admission is free the first Saturday of each month. Be sure to bring bread to feed the ducks in the park's pond.

Tohono Chul Park is another special location. This botanical garden is ideal for butterflies and bird sightings. Admission to the park is free on the first Tuesday of every month and on select holidays.

America's Finest City

San Diego, California has always made the top of the list of perfect warm-weather destinations. There is rarely an extreme fluctuation in temperatures. Attractions are plentiful, too. SeaWorld, LEGOLAND, Wild Animal Park are some of the most popular tourist attractions as is the world-famous San Diego Zoo, located in beautiful Balboa Park, with over 4,000 animals of more than 800 species. In August 2009, the San Diego Zoo's 17-year-old giant panda, Bai Yun, gave birth to a male cub who is the fifth giant panda to be born at the Zoo.

Gas Lamp Quarter

The Gas Lamp Quarter is one of the must-see areas of San Diego.
© Elizabeth Blair

Historic Old Town is another pleasant place to spend the day with its fantastic Mexican restaurants and shopping at Plaza del Pasado. San Diego Gaslamp Quarter is where you will feel more of a party atmosphere with sidewalk cafes, open air restaurants, cigar shops, bars, jazz clubs, and shopping.

A short two-mile drive across San Diego-Coronado Bridge is Coronado Island with its award winning beaches and vibrant community. Hotel del Coronado is the island's Victorian beachfront hotel and National Historic Landmark built in 1888.

Where are you traveling next? Stop by our forums and let us know.

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Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair

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