USATourist News MagazineSeptember 2003
In this issue:
September and October are great months to travel in the USA! For one thing, school is back in session so all you folks who are dedicated to Disney will face smaller crowds and shorter waits for attractions. We still recommend that you buy Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and Islands of Adventure Tickets and phone cards in advance. You save time and money purchasing things in advance. Advance purchasing by credit card makes your travel money go farther. You don't have to contend with exchange fees and credit card companies get a better rate of exchange than banks offer individuals. You'll also find it is easier to control spending if you buy some of your travel needs before you go.
The Euro is really strong against the US dollar. The current rate is one Euro equals 1.08 in US dollars. One British pound equals 1.56 in US dollars. It's a great time for a shopping spree.
This month in New York City luxury lovers will delight in the refurbishment and reopening of Crouch & Fitzgerald, one of New York's oldest luggage stores. The store has been around since 1839 (that's old by USA standards) selling high-end goods. They've added pricey pieces for your traveling dog or cat as well. The Crouch & Fitzgerald store is at 400 Madison Ave. between 47th and 48th Streets.
Shopping in Manhattan takes a good bit of energy and there is no better energy boost than the gloriously decadent chocolate available on the sixth floor of Bloomingdale's department store. (If you are watching your weight you can even buy only one piece.) Martine's Chocolates located within the department store are made fresh daily and among the best the USA has to offer. Bloomingdale's Department Store is on Third Avenue at 59th Street.
Of course serious shoppers will want to stay in one of our midtown Manhattan Hotels to make it easy getting all those bags back to the room.
If you are going to San Francisco in search of shopping and chocolate, one of the city's premier shopping areas is Ghirardelli Square. You'll find it at 900 North Point Street between Beach and Larkin Streets at the West end of Fisherman's Wharf. It is one block West of the Cable Car turnaround at Beach and Hyde Streets. Before you visit check out their website: Ghirardelli Square where you can Win Chocolate and get Visitor Discounts.
If your sweet tooth runs to non-chocolate candies you'll want to grab some of See's Candy before you leave San Francisco via San Francisco International Airport. In addition to the See's Candy Shop in United Terminal North, these great treats like peanut brittle, fruit truffles, and lollipops are available in many San Francisco International Airport Shops: I Love SF, Simply Gourmet, Spirit of San Francisco and others.
William Harley and Arthur Davidson made the first Harley-Davidson motorcycles available to the public in 1903. That's right, this American icon is now one hundred years old. September and October are particularly pleasant months to ride so now is the perfect time to rent a Harley!
USATourist.com is affiliated with EagleRider, the largest Harley-Davidson Motorcycle rental company in the USA. You can reserve your bike on-line and pick it up in Los Angeles, Orlando, San Francisco, San Diego, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Chicago, Denver, Austin, Las Vegas, or Anchorage. If you want to see the USA from a motorcycle but don't want to take off on your own, check out great guided tours offered by EagleRider.
A few questions come up over and over again, so each month in the newsletter I'm going to answer a few of them
Question: Is there a way that I can get back the tax when I shop in the USA?
Answer: Sorry, that is not something that most states do, and each state in the USA has a different rate of sales tax. Louisiana has some shops displaying a "tax free for International Visitors" sticker and you can get tax refunds when you shop in them. Delaware has no sales tax. Compared to prices elsewhere in the world shopping in the USA is not very expensive.
Question: Is prostitution legal in Las Vegas?
Answer: No it is not. Prostitution is legal in some other counties in Nevada but it is not legal in Las Vegas. It is always a good idea to follow local laws when you travel. It is best to avoid prostitutes in Las Vegas. They are not operating legally.
Question: Is it true that there are still some bars in New York City where I can smoke?
Answer: As of right now you cannot smoke in any New York City bars. Some places that offer outdoor seating have part of that outdoor seating designated as a smoking section. There are rumors of "special secret smoking bars" but they seem to be just that - rumors.
Have you heard of Flash Mobs? Well, this harmless and somewhat silly bit of fun is showing up in some of the oddest places --- even rather small towns occasionally have a flash mob.
I know that the golden arches have spread across the globe but American Cooking goes beyond burgers and fries. So every so often I am going to describe one of the USA's many chain restaurants, places that have outlets in cities and resorts that you may encounter on your travels that will give you an idea of what to expect. This month let's have a look at Cracker Barrel Restaurants. Cracker Barrel does not quite make it across the entire county --- none of the Pacific coast states have them --- but they do extend from across the east coast as far west as Montana, Idaho, Colorado and Arizona. They are universally clean restaurants that are particularly adept at catering to families with children.
One of the great things they offer long haul travelers is a books on audio program. You purchase an audio book, listen to it in your car and you can return it for the purchase price less three dollars for each week you owned it at another Cracker Barrel location.
Portions of food at Cracker Barrel are enormous. They serve USA "country style" cooking with lots of vegetables. If you eat breakfast there the hash brown casserole side dish is worth a try and if someone in your group is a big eater, the Country Boy Breakfast ought to fill him up. At breakfast or any Cracker Barrel meal you really ought to have the biscuits --- they are the most authentic southern style biscuits in any chain restaurant.
It isn't a place to stop if you are counting calories. Nor is it recommended for a romantic dinner. But for heaping piles of farmhouse type food at moderate prices it is definitely worth a try. Their web page has a map that will show you locations.
We also have a lot of hotel chains in the USA. You book rooms at all of the chains in any city in the USA at our web site.
And each month I'm going to tell you a little bit about what to expect from each chain. This month we'll look at Holiday Inns. This chain has outlets in all major cities, many smaller towns and most resort areas. The rooms are clean and comfortable and usually large. Most Holiday Inns have a swimming pool. Those in southern states often have outdoor pools while those in colder regions often have indoor pools. You will find some Holiday Inns in warmer areas with both indoor and outdoor pools. Most Holiday Inns offer an indoor fitness center and high-speed Internet access. When a Holiday Inn is in an airport location or close to an airport an airport shuttle is usually provided. The hotels in the chain that are called Holiday Inn Express are less luxurious and have fewer public areas, they seldom have a bar on-site. However, Holiday Inn Express locations provide a continental breakfast with the room. Holiday Inns have more public areas and generally have a full service restaurant on site but do not include breakfast in the room price.
Both Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels offer excellent value for money.
Well, that's it until nest month! As always, I love hearing from readers. You can reach me at MsTravel (email address no longer active).
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