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USATourist News Magazine

August 2003

In this issue:

So many exciting events are on offer in August that no matter where you are in the USA you'll find something wonderful!

Art in San Francisco

In San Francisco a Marc Chagall Retrospective exhibit opened July 26th at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The exhibit runs until November 4th and is the first comprehensive show of his work since 1985. Over 60 paintings and close to 90 works on paper are displayed. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is at 151 Third Street, between Mission and Howard Streets in San Francisco. Regular adult admission is ten dollars and there is an additional five-dollar charge for the exhibit.

Our USA Tourist hotel search engine shows bargain rates for numerous San Francisco hotels in desirable locations like Fisherman's Wharf and the Union Square areas. If you visit the area pick up a print copy of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the weekly paper has excellent restaurant advice and they've resurrected their travel pages which are now focused on nearby sights to tempt Bay area tourism so you'll get some on the ground local talk on where to eat and what to see.

The Naked Cowboy

On a recent trip to New York City I wasn't surprised to see crowds in Times Square, after all it's one of the busiest spots on the globe --- it was what the folks were crowding around that amazed me . . .

It seems that New York has a new tourist attraction.

Don't be alarmed; Mr. Naked does wear some clothing. A little bit. Wearing boots, briefs and a cowboy hat this self-described attention seeker has rapidly become a New York City must-see. Souvenir shops offer postcards of him. The Naked Cowboy himself frequently poses with tourists.

New York Travel Deals

Off course if you don't want to get up close and personal with a near-naked musician, there are lots of other ways to see New York. Two of our favorites here at USA Tourist are the Liberty Helicopter Tours and the New York Pass.

Liberty Helicopter offers different tours to fit both your time and money budgets. Some of them offer an up close and personal view of the Statue of Liberty from the air, a sight that's easily on the once-in-a-lifetime list. While you can visit Liberty Island the Statue of Liberty is closed at present so you cannot walk up inside her --- that makes a helicopter tour your best choice for an intimate look at her.

Liberty Island is only one of the over forty attractions that the New York Pass gives you access to. In addition to being an economical way to buy museum admissions and a travel card good on public transport, the Pass gives you discounts at popular restaurants and shops. And, if you hate wasting part of your holiday waiting to get in places, you'll love preferred access given to pass holders at several attractions. The New York Pass is a must-have to save time and money.


The 24th Detroit International Jazzfest is on offer starting August 30 and ending September 1st. It's North America's largest free jazz festival. That's right, free. All the music is open to the public without charge. The festival meets expenses by selling food, drink, and merchandise. If you're mad for jazz and planning a trip to the USA it's worth rerouting to get to Detroit the last weekend in August.

Tax Tips

I've had a few questions about tax free shopping schemes for tourists and the bewildering sales tax structure in the USA. Louisiana offers tax-free shopping for international visitors. The entire state of Delaware has no sales tax for anyone. Because of that many huge shopping malls are there attracting visitors from all over the northeast. Alaska does not have a state sales tax either but due to its location it does not attract visitors whose primary purpose is shopping.

Each state in the USA charges a different sales tax. They range from a low of 2 % to a high of 7 % on all goods and services.

A few other tax facts to help you travel:

Restaurant menu prices do not include tax. They also do not include service in most restaurants making tipping the service staff really important. Waiters are not paid very much in the USA. Their employers usually only pay them around two dollars an hour. But they are taxed as if they earn the USA's minimum wage of $5.15 hourly.

The price you see on the gas pump includes the tax on the gasoline.

Alcohol and cigarettes have specific taxes on them other than the sales tax. These prices change from state to state.

And many states take a one-weekend sales tax vacation in late August or early September. What that means is that you can buy things in those states without paying the tax during a designated time. You'll have to check local news or ask hotel staff. to find out if there is one in the area you visit.

Baltimore and Annapolis

Consider adding on some time in nearby Baltimore, Maryland. You can easily sample the sights of Baltimore and take a side trip to Annapolis, the home of the US Naval Academy. Most of the best sights in Annapolis are best seen on a walking tour. The US Naval Academy, is open March-Nov daily 9am-5pm; Dec-Feb daily 9am-4pm. Admission is free.

If you'd like a guided tour, they cost $5.50 and depart every half-hour from the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center in Halsey Field House, through Gate 1 at the end of King George Street. The visitor's center is open on the same schedule as the Naval Academy.

The town of Annapolis has a separate visitor center located at 26 West St. it's open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. You can pick up free maps and lists of walking tour operators.

Annapolis is a great place to sample Maryland crab cakes; you can do that for just under twenty dollars at dinnertime by visiting Mike's Restaurant 3030 Old Riva Road, Riva, MD 21140, telephone (410) 956-2784.

To travel to Annapolis from Baltimore, you'll find service provided by MTA, telephone (410) 539-5000 for schedule information on the direct Bus Service.

For public transportation between Washington and Annapolis call the MTA at (800) 543-9809 for information on schedules and fares.

See a Baseball Game

While you are in Baltimore if you've ever wanted to see a baseball game, you're in an excellent position to check out United States Sports.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is Baltimore's baseball stadium. Opened in 1992, this urban park combines the intimacy and tradition of historic fields in a state-of-the-art modern facility. Babe Ruth is probably baseball's most legendary player. His family home was located in what is now center field of Oriole Park. Tickets and schedule information are available from the Warehouse Box Office, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, 333 West Camden Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, and (410) 685-9800.

The Ballpark is within walking distance of Baltimore's Inner Harbor area hotels. Even if you don't want to see a game you can eat at the ballpark. Past Times Restaurant, in the Warehouse, offers Maryland crab cakes, pizza, salads, and deli sandwich meals in the $10 range, it's open for lunch and dinner.

Because of Baltimore's large religious Jewish community you'll find kosher food at several ballpark concession stands.

It's been great getting emails from readers this month!

I'm really excited to hear from people who want to visit the USA. I'll do the best I can to answer your questions. MsTravel (email address no longer active) is how you reach me.

Diane Goldberg

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