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USATourist News Magazine

July 2006

In this issue:

Welcome to the July issue of Some of our sponsors are offering excellent discounts and specials for USATourist subscribers. This month we're exploring San Francisco and San Diego, two cities in the beautiful state of California. No matter what your idea of the perfect get away is, California is sure to have it: beaches, mountains, theme parks, shopping, wine tasting, hiking, great food, and the list goes on.

July 4th is the United States Independence Day. Enjoy the beautiful firework displays where ever you visit!


California sits on the west coast of the United States. It is the third largest state in area and is the most populated of all fifty states. California has four main regions: Coast, Central Valley, Deserts, and Mountains. These large sections are actually divided up into a dozen smaller regions: Central Coast, Central Valley, Deserts, Gold Country, High Sierra, Inland Empire, Los Angeles County, North Coast, Orange County, San Diego County, San Francisco Bay Area, and Shasta Cascade.

California received its nickname The Golden State because of the California Gold Rush in northern California between 1848 and 1858. The rush started at Sutter's Mill when worker James W. Marshall came across several nuggets of gold. Word eventually got out and in 1849 a wave of immigrants from around the world flocked to California hoping to "strike it rich." These people were referred to as the "forty-niners."

The Gold Rush was just the beginning of the California's expansion. San Francisco's population grew from 1,000 to 20,000 from 1848 to 1850. As of 2005 San Francisco (SFO) alone had a population of 799,263.

San Francisco

San Francisco is located 400 miles north of Los Angeles. It is a culturally diverse city with a generally laissez-faire way of thinking. San Francisco is home to a Japantown, Chinatown, and other culturally focused communities including Italians, Irish, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, and Filipino. San Francisco also has several predominantly homosexual communities.

Some of the attractions and icons that distinguish San Francisco from other major cities are the Victorian Homes, Golden Gate Bridge, Cable Cars and Alcatraz Island. The views aren't too bad either. With three sides touching the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay, this is one of the prettiest cities to fly into.

The Victorian Homes that grace the streets (often referred to as the Painted Ladies) of San Francisco date back to the mid-1800's. Many of the original homes were destroyed in the great fire that followed the earthquake in 1906.

The Golden Gate Bridge has been open since 1937. The 1.2 mile (1.93 km) bridge is open to pedestrians from 7 am to 7 pm. A guest center and café can be found on the south end of the bridge.)

San Francisco is home to the oldest running cable car system in the world that still runs the old-fashion way with the manually operated cable cars riding in street traffic.

When visitors take a tour of Alcatraz Island they will see collections and artifacts from the days when Alcatraz was a military prison (1859-1934) and a federal penitentiary (1934-1963). On display are historic photographs, artwork created by inmates and objects created by infamous inmates. Escape material made by hopeful inmates is also on display. From 1969-1971 many American Indian activist from a number of tribes took over the island claiming it as Indian land. The island was occupied for over a year by the Indians and their families but eventually the arrangement's excitement diminished and many of the Indians left the island. By 1971 authorities removed the remaining Indians. In 1972 Alcatraz became a part of the National Park Service. In 1973 the island was opened to the public.

What else?

San Francisco has free walking tours:

It's also home to Ghirardelli Chocolates:

Mee Mee Bakery in San Francisco's Chinatown has fresh fortune cookies and a short tour.

Read more about this amazing city here:

San Diego

San Diego (SAN) sits on California's southern coast, just north of the Mexican border. It is about 150 miles south of Los Angeles and 500 miles south of San Francisco. San Diego has an amazingly mild climate year round with the annual mean temperature being 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit (18°C). There are miles of beaches and many wonderful restaurants. San Diego has an excellent Mass Transit system. The trolley has 50 miles of light-rail around the city and to the border of Mexico. There is also passenger rail service offered from Amtrak and Coaster and there are 29 bus routes over 635 miles. Many people take the trolley to Tijuana, Mexico for a day of food and bargain shopping.

The United States Marine Corps and United States Navy have bases in San Diego. This is also the city where the movie Top Gun, staring Tom Cruise, was filmed. Kansas City Barbeque is the name of the restaurant where the Tom Gun bar scenes were filmed. You can stop in for a drink or have a bite on the patio.

The Gaslamp Quarter has over 100 restaurants and also about that many shops. As you may have guessed, the historic area is named for the gas lamps that line the streets. Today there are only four authentic gas lamps. You will see them on each of the corners at Market Street and 5th Avenue.

The picturesque Hotel del Coronado sits on San Diego's island Coronado only feet from the water. It was built in 1888 and has been a National Historic Landmark since 1977. The hotel is the perfect setting for weddings, romantic getaways and even family vacations.

What else?

Cuban Cigar Factory is San Diego's original cigar factory, making 100% hand-rolled cigars. Stop by to see the cigars hand-rolled before your very eyes.

Read more about San Diego here:

An excellent source for planning your trip to San Diego

Still interested in finding out more about San Diego? Visit for information about inns, restaurants, golf courses, vacation rentals, and real estate.

26th Annual US Open Sandcastle Competition

Sunday, July 23, 2006 in Imperial, California you will find sandcastles galore at the 26th Annual US Open Sandcastle Competition. From 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. professional and amateur sand carving teams from throughout the U.S. and Canada will compete in the huge sand castle building competition. The entire weekend is full of events. You can visit their Web site for more information:

National Parks are worth a visit

These National Parks in California have some of the most stunning scenery in the country:
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is one of the largest urban parks in the world and easily accessible:
Joshua Tree National Park:
Lassen National Park:
Lava Beds National Monument:
Pinnacles National Monument:
Redwood National Park:
Yosemite National Park:

Ferguson Rockslide

The first week in May of this year there was a large rockslide that covered Highway 140, one of the major roadways into Yosemite. The roadway was covered with large boulders and soil that in the end covered a 600-yard section. There are several alternative options for entrance into Yosemite. The local town of Mariposa is not affected and is open for business as usual. For additional updates and information visit:

California Travel Deals

California GoCards

The California GoCards: San Francisco, San Diego & Los Angeles.

The 3, 5 & 7 Day Go Los Angeles Card product now includes admission to Universal Studios.

Sequoia Sightseeing

Sequoia Sightseeing Tours, a family-owned tour company operating from Three Rivers offers daily tours in Sequoia National Park.

The tour begins at 9 a.m. with guests picked up then transported to the park via the Generals Highway. The first stop on the tour is at Hospital Rock where you will visit an ancient Indian village to view pictographs and bedrock mortars. Then it is on to the Giant Forest with a stop at Amphitheater Point to view Morro Rock and other sights. In the Giant Forest, you will view the world's largest trees. Then a stop is made at Morro Rock.

You are then taken to Crescent Meadow and then to visit the Giant forest Museum before lunch at the Wuksachi Lodge. After lunch, you’ll visit the General Sherman Tree, the Lodgepole Visitors Center and market. You will return to Three Rivers at about 4 p.m after a full day of sightseeing. The tour offers a wonderful opportunity to experience Sequoia National Park and is suitable for all ages.

The company recently expanded by purchasing a 25 passenger vehicle and are now also able to offer group and corporate tours. "We have a deep love and appreciation of what the park has to offer and a sincere desire to educate our guests about its natural history, unique ecosystems, and related conservation issues," said Becky Bischoff, co-owner of Sequoia Sightseeing Tours. "We pride ourselves in offering a service that results in positive impacts both to the guest experience and the environment."

The tour operates year-round, and prices range from $83.00 for adults and $79.00 for seniors. There are also children's rates during winter and summer seasons. For more information, call (559) 561-4189 or visit their website at

Pines Resort near Yosemite National Park

Located one hour northeast of Fresno, California and 14 miles from the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park is the Pines Resort. Their access is open from Highway 140 and 41. The resort is surrounded by natural beauty and recreational activities with deluxe accommodations and mountain hospitality.

The Pines Resort is offering a 4th of July BBQ that sounds absolutely scrumptious. Gates open at 6 pm and the buffet is from 7 to 9 pm. (The BBQ is prepaid reservations only.) At sundown there will be a spectacular fireworks display over Bass Lake. What a great way to spend the 4th of July!

Every Friday from now until Labor Day is Jazz on the Lake. Dine and dance under the stars. It is sure to be a great time. Here's the summer 2006 schedule:

7/7-Joe Lenigan Little Big Band
7/14-Mo Fo Band
7/21-'nuff said
7/28-After Dinner Mints
8/4-Souled Out
8/11-Chain Reaction
8/18-Nite Flite
8/25-After Dinner Mints
9/1-Joe Lenigan Little Big Band

Lakeside Seating at The Pines Resort, Bass Lake. Gates open at 6pm. Show 6:30-9:30pm Admission: $8
Excellent Barbecue Buffet & Drink Selections

Space is limited. Concert reservations available for pre-paid parties of 6 or more only by calling 559-692-8862.

No matter where you travel you are sure to find wine tasting events, whether it be at a restaurant, festival, or winery. Here is a great site that has local wine and beer events and other food events for locations all over the world. It is a great source if you're looking for something to do in a city you are visiting or maybe even in your own town.

Hurricane Season is here

Although forecasters aren't expecting the 2006 hurricane season to be as devastating as 2005, they are still anticipating a very active Atlantic Hurricane Season. The 2006 names are: Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie, and William.

Hurricane Alberto has made an appearance the second week of June. If all of these names become exhausted this season then names will be used from the Greek alphabet. Six name lists are used in rotation. This means in the year 2012 we will see these names repeated. However, if a particular storm makes a severe impact, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year or Hurricane Andrew in 1992 the name will be retired. In 2005 there were 5 names retired between the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.

As we saw last season, hurricanes can be deadly and destructive. It is important that you keep tabs on upcoming storms and follow evacuation orders, especially if you are visiting any coastal towns, especially in Florida. The National Hurricane Center will keep you updated.

Travel Insurance for Hurricane Season

The 2006 Hurricane Season is here! Make sure you have the proper Trip Cancellation Coverage!
Insurance Tip: Make sure your plan covers losses if your travel destination becomes inaccessible due to hurricane damage.
Insurance Tip: Travel Insurance must be purchased before the Storm/Hurricane is named.


  • 26 Named Storms (previous record: 21 in 1933)
  • 13 Hurricanes (previous record: 12 in 1969)
  • Four major hurricanes hitting U.S. (previous record: three in 2004)
  • 3 Category 5 Hurricanes (previous record: two in 1960 and 1961)
  • 7 Tropical Storms before August 1 (previous record: five in 1997)
  • Two-Year Consecutive Total of Tropical Storms: 41 (previous record: 32 most recently in 1995-96)
  • Two-Year Consecutive Total of Hurricanes: 24 (previous record: 21 in 1886-87)
  • Two-Year Consecutive Total of Major Hurricanes: 13 (ties record in 1950-51)
  • Two-Year Consecutive Total of Major Hurricane landfalls: 5 (previous record: three in 1949-50)
  • Three-Year Consecutive Total of Tropical Storms: 57 (previous record 43 most recently in 2002-04)
  • Three-Year Consecutive Total of Hurricanes: 30 (previous record 27 in 1886-88)
  • Three-Year Consecutive Total of Major Hurricanes: 16 (ties record in 1949-51 and 1950-52)

Don't let a hurricane sink your vacation!

Happy Houseboat Returns

Fill'er up for FREE this summer! Explore Lake Powell in a beautiful houseboat equipped with all the comforts of home. Choose the craft that suits your needs – a 46', 53', 54' or a 59' houseboat. Rent at the published rate for 5 days or more, and your final houseboat fueling is FREE!

Southwest Airlines Vacations

Southwest Airlines Vacations offers vacation packages to favorite destinations across the United States at great prices. Their rates are per person, based on double occupancy, and include the items listed along with 24-hour traveler assistance and Rapid Rewards credit on air portion. Book your vacation package today! Check back often for the latest special travel rates.

Southwest Airlines Vacations. Affordable vacation packages to destinations from coast to coast.

That is it for the July issue. We wish you all save travels. See you next month!

Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair

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