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USATourist News Magazine

March 2005

In this issue:

Welcome to the March edition of USATourist News Magazine. If you haven't already, stop by and see the new format of our home page:

The home page isn’t all that is new. You'll notice some of our inner pages have been converted to a wider format with bigger images and more photographs. There's also a new Wild West Slideshow which includes amazing pictures of Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California:

Spring Break is upon us

March 20th is officially the first day of spring but all through the month the beaches of Florida will be swarming with university students who are taking a break from the books. Spring Break is March 7th- March 28th this year, but even if you're not headed to the Florida beaches you may run into the Spring Breakers elsewhere. Bourbon Street in New Orleans, the Rocky Mountain ski slopes, South Padre Island in Texas, and even Arizona's Lake Havasu are expected to be packed with partying college students.

Rope 'n Ride in Houston

Put on those jeans and boots and head down to Houston March 1 - 20 for some Texas barbeque and the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Country duo, Brooks and Dunn, kick off the twenty-day stock show with a concert. In the days to follow, and in between bull riding, calf roping and barrel racing, other music performances will include Alan Jackson, Alicia Keys, Kenny Chesney, Steve Miller Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and many others. Ticket prices range from $16-$77 and are already on sale. There's a lot to do in this popular Texas city, so be sure to check out our Houston page for suggestions:

Be Irish for a Day

If you’re one to never miss a party, you will want to be in Chicago on March 12 for the annual Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade. The first parade was held in 1957 and hosted by the Chicago Plumbers Union Local 130 and it's been a tradition ever since. Around 10 am the day of the parade the Chicago River is dyed green. At noon, floats and marching bands begin to make their way down Columbus Drive to Balbo then to Monroe. The festivities then continue into the night at the local bars. And remember, if you end up in Chicago, dress accordingly, they don't call it the Windy City for no reason. Visit our Chicago page for other city highlights:

If Chicago isn't on your itinerary, there's a good chance you can catch a St. Patty's Day parade wherever you are. Almost every major city in the US has a St. Patrick's Day parade to call their own. This year, nearly every parade is the weekend of March 12 with a few scattered though out the month. The 244th St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City is held March 17, the official St. Patrick's Day. This parade is nothing like the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It is a marching parade with clans and bands only. Vehicles and floats aren't allowed. This is one cultural event worth checking out. So, wherever you are, go be Irish for a day: eat some corned beef and cabbage and enjoy a green beer or two.

It's Cherry Blossom season

This year's National Cherry Blossom Festival is being held March 26 – April 10, which marks the 93rd celebration of the thousands of cherry trees from city of Tokyo to the people of Washington DC. April 9th, beginning at 10 am, is the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade.

Step back in time to the Old West

If you've always wanted to experience the Old West this is your chance: March 17 - 20 is the National Festival of the West in Scottsdale, AZ. The Western Music Jamboree provides nonstop entertainment on three stages, including old and new western music and cowboy poetry. The festival includes the Western Tradeshow which has a couple hundred vendors selling anything western themed you can imagine.

During the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Associations Grand American Championship, you'll really feel like you've taken a trip back in time. This competition is full of excitement as cowboy and cowgirl contestants get into the spirit dressed in authentic old western attire and compete for awards. On horseback, the contestants try to outperform their rivalry as they compete in shooting (blanks) at targets and riding skill competitions. For more information on the National Festival of the West visit

Check out the virtual tours on our Phoenix page for more on the area:

Our Arizona page will also give you an idea of what else this beautiful state has to offer:

Free tours in Denver

Denver, the Mile-High City, has many fabulous free tours to offer. But if you have a sweet tooth, have I got the place for you – Hammond's Candies. Running since 1920, Hammond's is famous for its ribbon candy, but you'll also find other candy like chocolate and caramels in the gift shop. The candy is still made with the same recipes and same craftsmanship as the founder Carl T. Hammond, Sr. made it. The factory tour is short and sweet (very sweet) and you do get free candy during of the tour. You can also load up on treats in the gift shop before departing. Factory tours are Monday-Friday 9:00 am – 3:00 pm and Saturday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm.

If you're a beer fan, another tour worth taking is the Coors Golden Brewery Tour in Golden, CO, which is just outside of Denver. A Coors' guide will take you on a walking tour with a couple of taste tests along the way. The tour ends at the tasting room. You'll find this to truly be the freshest beer you've ever tasted. If you bring the kids along, they're not left out; soft drinks are offered in the tasting room. After you're through tasting the variety of beers the gift shop is on the way out where you can purchase souvenirs. The brewery is open 10am to 4pm daily. Beer samples are only available for those 21 and older and you must have a valid picture ID. This is a good time of year to go since the summer months often mean huge crows and a long wait for the tour.

March is one of the top months for avalanches

Most ski resorts begin to shut down the trails in mid-April. But if you have an adventurous spirit and plan on doing some skiing, snowboarding, or snowmobiling in the backcountry before the end of season, keep in mind March is one of the top months for avalanches. Avalanches normally occur after a huge snowstorm and under a clear sky and are often triggered by people participating in winter sports. If you do decide to take the risk and venture out of bounds be sure you're wearing an avalanche transceiver beacon.

The nice thing about skiing this time of year is the sun is usually out and it's not as cold. For some last minute skiing check out our list of Colorado ski resorts:

Coming events in the US

The prestigious Boston Marathon is held on April 18. So, if you're in Boston that day, stop by and cheer on the long distant runners.

If you missed Mardi Gras, there's always the New Orleans Jazz Festival, which is held April 22 though May 1 this year. As usual, a great line of musicians are scheduled. New Orleans is loaded with things to see and owns a culture of its own. April is also the peak of crawfish season.

If you prefer more of a small town atmosphere, earlier in the month, April 8 -10, is the 34th annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival. Ponchatoula is also in Louisiana, east of Baton Rouge and northwest of New Orleans. Through out the three day festival there will be amusement rides, a parade, musical entertainment, a variety of Cajun food (including fried alligator and seafood gumbo), and of course a lot of strawberries.

Plan your summer trip now

It's not too early to start planning your summer trip to the United States. If you're wondering what are some of the "must see" attractions are, visit our Best of the US page and find out: We can help you book your airline ticket: And your hotel reservations:

Travel Tips

Now that spring is in the air, outdoor festivals and activities are popping up all over the country. And although the days may be warm the temperatures often drop as the sunsets, so during the month of March it's a good idea to dress in layers wherever you visit.

Did you know the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has the right to open and search your checked luggage? There are now special locks that are "accepted and recognized" by TSA, which means TSA agents can open and relock the lock. But if your lock doesn’t allow TSA access, the security agents have the right to cut it off. But what happens if you retrieve your luggage and something is missing? If that's the case, you should immediately go to the airline's baggage claim office and file a report. The important thing is to always check your luggage before leaving the airport so you can file any complaints as soon as possible. Also, if security does search your bag, a note should be left in your luggage informing you that your bag was searched. Here's a list of TSA approved locks:

Travel Deals

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So book your Lake Powell adventure NOW to get our best peak season houseboat rental rates with these specially priced packages! Save $800 to $2,900 on 3 and 5 day packages on selected houseboats.

If you can't visit New York, stop by! You’ll find great prices on a huge selection of New York City gifts, t-shirts and sweatshirts, ornaments, souvenirs, I NY apparel and merchandise, art prints, snow globes, and much more.

Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair

Diane Goldberg, our beloved Ms. Travel, passed away on January 14th after a sudden illness. She wrote our popular News Magazine for more than four years and was a valued member of our USATourist Team. Diane loved to travel and enjoyed sharing her travel tips. She leaves behind fans from around the world of her witty and entertaining writings. We at USATourist are missing her greatly. Our deepest sympathy goes to Diane’s family.

You can read some of Diane’s past articles in the USATourist News Magazine Archive.

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