USATourist News MagazineApril 2006
In this issue:
Welcome to the April edition of USATourist News Magazine. This month we're visiting the southern section of the United States. We also have some great specials this month from Huck's Houseboats, American Patriot Getaways in the Smoky Mountains are offering a free night, and a link to a coupon for Silver Springs, Florida.
Winter is officially over, which means the National Parks are beginning to reopen. If you visit the parks in the higher altitudes makes sure the higher roads and passes are open before beginning your venture since spring snowstorms have been known to happen as late as May.
The southern United States is often referred to as simply "the South" and reaches from Texas, which sits in the middle-southern part of the U.S., to Maryland, which sit on the Mid-Atlantic and is also sometimes considered part of the Northeast. As you will find, everyone has their own idea of which states are considered "The South." Generally speaking, the "Deep South" consists of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. The "West South Central States" includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. The "South Atlantic States" include Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
The residents of the southern states are known for their southern accents, home cooking, and courteous nature. This region is hot and humid, in the summer months and sees impressive thunderstorms. The states that sit on the coastline are prone to hurricanes, as we saw this past summer. Tornadoes are also common in these states.
Across the United States you will notice the different terms used like, soft drinks, or carbonated drinks, which have their own terms in different regions. The term "pop" dominates the western and north eastern regions of the United States while "Soda" also is heard in the northeastern states. In the south the term "Coke" is common. Although "Coke" is an actual name brand of soda (Coca-Cola) don't be surprised if you order a Coke in a restaurant and the server asks, "What kind?"
Iced tea is brewed all across the United States but in the southern states you will find the popular "sweet tea," presweetened iced tea. If you like to sweeten your own iced tea or prefer just lemon, be sure to ask for unsweetened tea. Chances are if you ask for sweet tea anywhere else in the U.S. the servers may not know what it is.
One more note, it is tradition here in the U.S. to serve beverages with ice. If you don't normally use ice in your drinks, you will want to request "no ice" when you order your drink.
The prices are as much as four times more than previous years. The crawfish farmers are having a rough season due to the severe drought last summer and Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. This has been the worst season for the farmers of the last 10-15 years. If you're still interested in attending a crawfish festival I stumbled across this list of 2006 Cajun and Zydeco Festivals: http://users.erols.com/ghayman/promotions.current.htm
Oh, and yes, the natives really do suck the crawfish heads. If you try it, you will get a taste of the spicy, seasoned juices. It's actually pretty tasty.
You will find a lot of fried food in the south like fried green tomatoes, fried seafood, and fried alligator. Catfish is a favorite, commonly served with hushpuppies (deep-fried cornmeal dumplings), cornbread and coleslaw. Boiled shrimp and crawfish are also widely available, boiled with potatoes and corn.
Another staple in the south is fried chicken. "Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits" is a fast food restaurant that was born in Louisiana. Popeyes has some the best and spiciest friend chicken around. There are 1,818 Popeyes location in the U.S. but I have found that the Popeye's chicken outside of Louisiana isn't as spicy as the Louisiana chains. Of course, Louisianans like their food with a lot of spice. www.popeyes.com
Pecan trees are found all over the southern states, which means fresh, homemade pecan pies are widespread. Some pecan pies are made with bourbon and some with chocolate chips. Peaches are also popular in the south. Georgia is known as the Peach State, but you will find orchards all over the southern states, many of which allow you to stop by to pick and purchase your own buckets of peaches.
If you make Florida part of your visit you will find a lot of citrus fruits, one of Florida's many nicknames is the "Orange State." Key lime Pie is a delicious dessert that frequents many menus. The more south you go in Florida, the more you will notice an increase in different cultures of food from Central America and the Caribbean.
Avery Island, home of Tabasco brand pepper sauce, is located approximately 140 miles west of New Orleans. Avery Island has the highest elevation of Louisiana's Gulf coast's five "salt dome islands," about 163 feet (49.68 meters).
Visitors can tour the factory or roam the 200-acre Jungle Gardens with the possibility of seeing some swamp creatures like alligators or other creatures that live in the area such as deer, raccoons, and even black bears. Of course, there is a gift shop where you can pick up some the famous Tabasco products. www.tabasco.com
Memphis, Tennessee is about 333 miles (537 km) north east of Atlanta, Georgia and 357 miles (574 km) of New Orleans, Louisiana. This is where you will find Graceland, Elvis Presley's 14-acre estate. His mansion, now a museum, is open for self-guided tours. As you roam the halls you will see pictures, clothing, awards and other personal items from the life of the King of Rock and Roll and the Presley family. Elvis's personal car museum is an intriguing party of the tour. The 1955 Pink Cadillac is on display, as is the 1956 purple Cadillac convertible, 1973 Stutz Blackhawk, and the red MG Elvis (driven in the film Blue Hawaii). You will also find Elvis's Harley Davidson motorcycles and the Elvis NHRA "funny car" that was driven by John Force and the Elvis NASCAR, driven by racing star Rusty Wallace.
Every August thousands of fans travel to Memphis for Elvis Week, in honor of the anniversary of Elvis's death (August 16, 1977). In 2006 the Elvis Week dates are August 8-16. On August 15, the eve of the anniversary of Elvis's death, a candle vigil will be held in honor of "The King." www.elvis.com
The Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains Nation Park is located in the eastern part of Tennessee and the western section of North Carolina and with its 50,000 acres it is an outdoorsman's paradise and the perfect location for a family vacation. The primary access is south of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee on US Hwy Route 441. www.usatourist.com/english/places/tennessee/smokymountains.html
For those who love the water there are plenty of opportunities for canoeing, whitewater rafting, river tubing, and fishing. For those who prefer the dry land there is plenty of horseback riding, hiking, and bike riding. The winter months offer snow activities such as skiing and snowboarding.
Right now the wildflowers are blooming and the seven-day Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is scheduled in a few weeks, April 2430. You can explore and learn about the Smoky Mountains' wildlife and fauna. www.springwildflowerpilgrimage.org
The Smoky Mountains also see the southern part of the 2,000 mile (3,218.68 km) Appalachian Trail. Actually, the Trail's highest mountain is found in the Smoky Mountains, Clingman's Dome. www.appalachiantrail.org
I often mention the Go Cards and it just so happens that Miami and Orlando have Go Cards, too. This really is the best way to see these Florida cities.
Go Orlando Card
You get Unlimited Admission to over 50 Orlando and Florida attractions for ONE LOW PRICE! Your Go Orlando Card gets you unlimited FREE general admission to top attractions including:
Go Orlando Cards are valid for 2, 3, 5 or 7 days. Take up to 2 weeks to use your days. Receive unlimited admission to Orlando and Florida tourist attractions. BONUS: Includes select Miami-area attractions and a FREE full-color guidebook. Buy your Go Orlando Card today!
Go Miami Card
Go Miami Card is the perfect way to save on your Miami vacation. Get UNLIMITED FREE admission to top attractions and tours for one low price. Plus, save up to 20% on shopping and dining and get a free full color guidebook to plan your experience.
Unlimited Admission at over 25 Miami Attractions and Tours including:
Miami, the "Magic City," sizzles with action year-round at exciting attractions and entertainment venues. Now you can make the most of your visit-whether on business or pleasure-with the Go Miami Card. The card delivers great value, choices, and great savings at Miami's top tourist attractions.
Go Miami Cards are valid for 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 days. Take up to 2 weeks to use your days. Buy your Go Miami Card today!
Silver Springs is located near Ocala, Florida just 75 miles (120 km) north of Orlando and it is worth the visit. Silver Springs is the largest natural artesian spring formation in the world. If you would like to read more, visit our webpage and you will find a discount coupon on our site for Silver Springs. You won't want to miss the glass bottom boat rides. What a thrill! www.usatourist.com/english/places/florida/silversprings.html
Looking for a way to spend a week? Try renting a houseboat. One of the most fun ways to enjoy a vacation or holiday is renting a houseboat. In your own luxurious space you might forget that you're on a boat as you enjoy the hotel like amenities like kitchen appliances, television, radios, and heat/air-conditioning. Many houseboats are equipped with barbeque grills and water slides. If you don't have experience navigating boats, fear not, you will receive clear and concise instructions to make you feel confident and ready to enjoy your adventure.
Huck's Houseboats - Upper Mississippi River
Huck's Houseboats is located near LaCrosse, Wisconsin and about two hours from Madison, Wisconsin. The Upper Mississippi is the home of Mark Twain, and you'll enjoy experiencing the river of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. Many boaters take advantage of a 70-mile stretch that offers a multitude of beaches. Huck's fleet of houseboats is the youngest on the Mississippi River, and they offer a money-back guarantee against lost cruising time due to mechanical failure. All boats are more than 50-feet long and are fully loaded widebodies with operating fly bridges, four staterooms with queen beds, 1½ baths, queen-size sleeper sofa in the main salon, and extras such as waterslide, two refrigerators, color TV/VCR, and CD player. Each boat sleeps ten, with a maximum limit of 12. Pets not allowed. Weekly rates range from: Season is May 1 through October 31. Senior Discounts available and special discounts in May and September for three-day "Beginner" cruises.
Lake Powell Houseboat Rentals last minute special
Good news: the snow pack in the upper Colorado basin is above average for the winter, which means there will be a significant run off that will benefit Lake Powell's lake levels this spring.
Even better news: Lake Powell Houseboat Rentals is offering a special if you book before April 15. You can save up to 35% with their EARLY BIRD Rates. You will get a Houseboat and Powerboat for one low rate.
If you are a sports enthusiast, you might enjoy their 3-Day/2-Night Sport Package which includes a Powerboat for two days and your choice of ski or tube package.
$999 plus tax (Savings of over $250.00)
Staying in a Westin Hotel has always been a pleasant experience. There are 77 Westins in the United States and Canada. Some of the nice points of Westin Hotels are customers enjoy guaranteed best online rates, no online booking fees, and Starpoints for every stay that can be used for FREE hotel nights.
Westin Hotel and Resorts have several new promotions that will save you money:
And in addition, the American Lung Association recently honored Westin Hotels & Resorts for going smoke-free. As of January of this year Westin became the first major hotel brand to go smoke-free. This means smoking is no longer allowed anywhere in the hotel including guest rooms.
That's it for our April issue. We hope you enjoyed it. Please continue to share your stories with me about your travel in the U.S. I love hearing about the unique places you visit. Just click on my name to leave me an email. Until next month, Happy Travels!
Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair
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