USATourist News MagazineApril 2004
In this issue:
April first as "April Fools Day" shows up in a lot of different countries. Searching around the Internet I found several different explanations for its origin. Some scholars trace it back to ancient times when it was part of a spring celebration. Other sources say that it had to do with the change to the Georgian calendar that moved the first of the year to mid-winter. Apparently some die-hards kept clinging to the April date as the start of the year and were labeled fools. Or not. No one seems certain how it started.
Playing pranks on April first in the USA is more often than not something only children do. So, travelers need not worry about hotel clerks telling them their reservation is lost and shouting, "Joke."
If fact, April is such a good month to travel in the USA that you'll find very little to worry about.
Now is a great time to enroll in US Airways' frequent flyer program. European customers who enroll in the program earn a bonus of 5,000 frequent flyer miles. This offer is only open to European residents taking flights that originate in Europe. Residents of the United States, Canada, and Mexico are not eligible. Residency is important, not citizenship, if you are a US citizen living in Europe, you're eligible.
In other parts of the sky, Richard Branson, the owner of the Virgin Group has recently announced plans to start a new discount airline covering the USA. Virgin USA is expected to be in the air by 2005. Virgin Atlantic already serves numerous major cities in the USA with flights to and from Europe. The advent of Virgin Atlantic could ease travel for people wanting onward connections in the USA. It's expected that the fares will compete with other low cost airlines and give travelers another range of inexpensive options.
With average highs hovering around 28 degrees Celsius for most of the month in Orlando, Florida it's the perfect time to plan on adding some sport fishing to your itinerary. Cool Beans is a charter boat company located in Port Canaveral, near Cocoa Beach, on Florida's Space Coast, a mere 45 minutes drive time from Orlando and Disney. Catches include grouper, snapper, blackfin tuna, sailfish or king mackerel depending upon the season. The area's one of the best fishing spots on the Eastern Seaboard and April is a relatively storm-free month. Even if only part of your party is interested in fishing, the rest of the family will enjoy a day on the water. Cool Beans takes care of getting the appropriate licenses so your fishing is legal. They provide bait and tackle, so you need not haul equipment from home through airports or forgo the pleasures of fishing because you didn't want to cart your rod and reel.
From Florida all the way across the USA we've a wealth of waterways. The second largest river in the USA, the Mississippi, is our principal waterway. The longest river in the USA, the Missouri River, is its chief tributary. Together, these two mighty rivers make up the planet's largest river system except for the Nile and Amazon. It flows from the Rocky Mountains and down through New Orleans. The Mississippi is home to over two hundred species of fresh water fish. Recreational opportunities abound! Visitors enjoy swimming, fishing, and water skiing. One of the best ways to explore the area is a House Boat Vacation.
Florida also offers houseboat options. On the St. John's River in central Florida, Holly Bluff Marina rents houseboats starting with 38 feet models and moving up to more than 60 feet long. From this location you can cruise the St. John's River in Florida's central wetlands enjoying the lakes and springs from Sanford to Palatka. Swimming, fishing, exploring old river towns, and hiking and picnicking in a variety of state parks or just watching the world go past makes this a relaxing way to see the USA.
The unique flavor of Cajun Country is also available for house boaters. Centrally located 90 minutes from New Orleans, Lafayette and Baton Rouge on the banks of the Atchafalaya River in Morgan City you'll find Cajun House Boats. Nature lovers owe it to themselves to cruise the bayou at least once in their life. The cypress swamps and unspoiled waterways of this southern state house plant and wildlife that you won't see anywhere else. You'll also find unique architecture left over from the plantation era and have a chance to sample cuisine that merges French, African, and Spanish styles.
You don't have to have experience to navigate a houseboat. Rentals come with full instructions so that in a short time before you set off you'll be confident in your ability to manage the watercraft. The boats are fully equipped, many of them with luxury features. House boating is a great way to take the entire family on a trip that won't break the budget.
At the Sackler Gallery, The Return of the Buddha: The Qingzhou Discoveries just opened March 20 and will remain on exhibit until August 2004. This is a rare opportunity to view 35 objects from a remarkable group of almost 400 sixth century Chinese Buddhist stone sculptures found in 1996 in Qingzhou, Shandong province, China, at the former site of the Longxingsi Buddhist temple. The limestone sculptures shown were selected to present significant stylistic variety. Many of them retain an unusual amount of their original gilt and pigment.
The Art and Industry Building at the Smithsonian is currently closed for renovation. But during the renovation period the Discovery Theater remains open. The Smithsonian's Discovery Theater features live performing arts for young people. Productions involve puppets, storytellers, dancers, actors, musicians, and mimes presenting stories for children, folk tales from all over the world, American history and cultures. Shows are scheduled Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at Discovery Theater in the Arts & Industries Building at 900 Jefferson Drive, S.W. in Washington. Phone (202) 357-1500 for more information or to make a reservation if you are bringing a large group. Ticket Prices are five dollars for adults and four dollars for children.
Even though there is a charge for shows at the Discovery Theater. Admission to all the Smithsonian Museums is free.
Willie is "On the Road Again". Having seen him recently I can promise you that he won't let you down. He still performs his classics in concert. And his German speaking fans will find a link to his German web site from the link to the English one.
One thing that is a bit confusing for international visitors: many of his concerts are in smaller venues and you might not recognize the name of town where Willie is playing. Often these smaller towns are close to larger cities or attractions that you might want to visit. So, if you see a date that fits with your travel time, follow the link to the local venue and email them for the name of the nearest larger city. If that doesn't work for you, just email me at MsTravel (email address no longer active) and I'll be happy to make recommendations for destinations near Willie's scheduled appearances.
With outlets in all over the USA and Canada, a recreational vehicle might be the ideal way for you to take your family "on the road again." Traveling with children is easy when you take your beds and kitchen with you. For people who enjoy the outdoors and want to spend a large part of their holiday in the USA's wonderful national parks or beside our shining seas an RV may be the best way to travel.
If you have a family member in a wheelchair, and RV is the perfect solution to your getaway problems. Cruise America offers a specially designed vehicle at select locations in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver, Salt Lake City, Denver and Orlando areas. These RVs have a wheelchair accessible entry via a rear power lift gate, a single bed is located in the rear compartment and the doors to the rear living space and bathroom are wider. The bathroom is fitted with assist handles. All Cruise America rental vehicles are available with hand controls for our physically disabled clients at no additional charge. You must arrange rental of the special vehicles well in advance.
While many visitors schedule trips to the park during the fall when the leaves turn if you fancy flowers April is the best month to visit the area. The wildflower display is expected to be at its best from April 19th onwards. Spring weather in the Smokeys offers mild days and cool evenings. Fortunately for people who don't always pack whatever they need the Smokey Mountains and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee area is home to numerous outlet malls where you can pick up brand name bargains.
Dollywood is open every day in April except for Tuesdays and Easter Sunday. In addition to the standard theme park rides, Dollywood offers a unique slice of Americana where you can see crafts indigenous to the area and hear country and bluegrass music. You'll also have the chance to sample foods unique to the region.
One of the best things about the area is the choice of hotels in the Smoky Mountain area. From hotels with mountain view balconies to those only minutes from Dollywood you can choose a place that's perfect for the sort of getaway you want. The reasonable prices are another big plus. For about half the cost of lodging in a congested urban area you can get a luxury room.
Hostels primarily cater to younger travelers but the young at heart can stay there as well. Some properties even offer rooms for families. Hostels can be found all over the USA in natural beauty posts and in the middle of urban areas. At some hostels you'll be expected to follow rules that limit smoking and drinking alcohol (at some hostels you can do neither on site.) and you will sometimes be expected to perform minor chores. Many hostels have a common kitchen you can use and a Laundromat on the premises.
Some hostels, usually described as hostel hotels, do allow imbibing and smoking (in designated areas) and do not have common kitchens that you can use. Hostel hotels often have maid service. Check the information on the site about each property.
You'll often have to keep your own area tidy and may need to lock your valuables in lockers. But, you'll get to stay at some of the best places in the USA for a fraction of the cost of even a budget hotel stay. A dorm bed in a hostel in Charleston, South Carolina's historic district costs a mere $19 nightly, stay in a private room in Las Vegas for only $ 20 or in Chicago in a private room for as low as $21. You'll find hostels on the edge of national parks, in ski areas, and historic districts all across the USA.
Because we do not have the sort of tourist information offices that most Europeans are familiar with, it's best to go ahead and check our booking engine and pre-book your rooms before you go. If you want to be a bit more flexible, book your first post-flight nights and your last pre-flight nights in advance. And do check out the search engine to see all about the amazing properties. You can stay in New Orleans only a ten-minute walk from the French Quarter or on the edge of the Everglades.
Golden Corral is a buffet style all-you-can-eat restaurant with locations in all of the 48 states of the continental USA. It's a great choice for travelers who want to sample a range of American food. A variety of chicken dishes, pot roast and meat loaf are regularly on the daily menu. Many locations feature shrimp on their Saturday and Sunday night buffets. Most locations serve a breakfast buffet on Saturday and Sunday. If you'd like to sample several different entrees and try a range of side dishes this is a great choice for finding your favorites. The dessert buffet also offers sugar-free choices. If you are traveling by RV many of these restaurants have parking lots suitable for bus traffic so they can accommodate you. Just check a local phone book to find the nearest location. They are open 365 days a year.
Goodbye until next month!
As always I love hearing from readers with questions, comments, or advice about travel in the USA. And reader email plays a major role in deciding what goes into the newsletter. You want more information about camping, golf, hotel, shopping, or anything at all in the USA to show up in the newsletter? All you have to do is let me know at MsTravel (email address no longer active).
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