USATourist News MagazineSeptember 2004
In this issue:
If you’ve been waiting until schoolchildren head back to the classroom before your trip to Walt Disney World in Florida, a trek to the west coast to check out California, or a chance to tour one of our incredible state or national parks, well
Labor Day always falls on the first Monday in September, this year it is on September the 6th. (Be sure to exchange money before the start of the holiday weekend as banks are closed on Labor Day.) We’ve celebrated this holiday for over a century. It began during the industrial revolution as part of a worker movement to obtain rights to better working conditions, higher pay and more reasonable working hours. In the 1880s worker groups took the day off without pay to attract attention to their needs. It has become a day featuring parades and other events to celebrate the American worker.
This year in New York City Summer Restaurant Week has been extended to run until the end of Labor Day Weekend. Summer restaurant week is an annual event when over one hundred of New York’s best restaurants run specials featuring three-course lunches for $20.12 and three-course dinners for $30.12.
Events on offer in New York City this Labor Day include:
The M.E.C.A. Family Festival along Third Avenue from 34th to 42nd St. on Labor Day where you will find over 450 vendors featuring arts, crafts, artisans, antiques, collectibles and fashion merchandise creating a midway along Third Avenue.
The Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit in Greenwich Village. It will run along La Guardia Pl., Bobkin Lane, and University Pl. from Bleeker St. to E. 12th St. You’ll be able to browse through (and buy!) works by young and innovative artists as well as prominent artists and craftspeople whose work can usually be seen in galleries, museums, and important private collections.
And later in the month, September 18th you’ll find the Avenue of the Americas Great Irish Fair on the Avenue of the Americas from 42nd to 57th St. This year marks the 6th annual festival with over 500 authentic Irish food, art, craft, antique, and merchandise exhibitors. Over 50 cultural, non-profit and corporate displays will be on view.
To get the most of your visit to New York City, no matter when you travel, purchase the New York Pass for convenient pre-paid admission to over forty of the City’s top attractions as well as discounts in shops, restaurants, and tours. In addition to the pass, many readers of USATourist.com sing the praises of Liberty Helicopter tours. The helicopter tours have been described as one of the must-do, once in a lifetime treats that made visiting New York magical.
You can still enjoy a visit to the South Carolina coast or Florida. Hit the link above to the Hurricane season warning, the first tropical storm of the season, Alex was headed for the North Carolina coast but it gave us a miss. In mid-August, Hurricane Charley, the most destructive hurricane to hit Florida in sixteen years created huge problems for the sunshine state. But despite the intensity of the storm, which resulted in sixteen deaths, many destroyed homes and huge power outages, most people, tourists and residents alike were able to reach safety. Further up the coast, in the Carolinas, damage was minimal.
You’ll definitely want to be wary and listen to weather warnings if you travel to the Atlantic coast of the USA during September. But do keep in mind that even though Florida recently experienced a horrible storm, hurricanes seldom disrupt vacations and the current state-of-the-art in advance warning systems makes seaside holidays during hurricane season relatively safe compared to the past.
If you do choose to visit the shore during hurricane season a few extra precautions can make your travel more comfortable:
If you are traveling in the USA or Canada and need to locate a synagogue, you can use the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism's "Find a Synagogue" map or the Synagogues.com search engine. The synagogues.com search is worldwide and lists all branches of Judaism.
Dragoncon takes over Atlanta, Georgia. If you are one of the over 20,000 people planning on participating in the USA’s largest convention for fans and professionals committed to the popular arts and celebrating fantasy and science fiction odds are you already made your plans and secured your hotel reservation six months ago. But if you aren’t eagerly awaiting the arrival of world acclaimed writers, media luminaries, and fans, then you’ll want to avoid Atlanta’s center city over Labor Day weekend. Most uptown hotels will be full; those that have space will be charging premium rates. As Atlanta is a popular end point for air travel from Europe and an important international business destination your itinerary could place you in the city during Dragoncon, if it does you’ll want to book an airport or other outlying area hotel.
If you are in the area and interested, you can drop in for part (or all) of the event 1, 2 or 3-day passes are available at the Door (and only at the door) on the day that they are good for. You can also purchase a pass for all four days at the door. The cost for all four days (at the door) will be $85, three days will cost $70, two days will cost $50 and one day will cost $25. Children under seven are admitted free unless you want to use the day care services.
In October I often hear from tourists who desperately want to see New England during the autumn when the leaves are in their full glory. And it’s hard to plan to do that at the last minute. While renting a car is a great option, many people who love the scenery are happiest traveling by train. Train travelers are in luck, because even though the route from New York to Boston is beautiful in autumn, the price of rail passes for international visitors goes down September 6th.
MacAmerica offers discounted Amtrak rail passes for train travel in United States and their already low prices drop to off peak rates starting in September. You can forgo the stress of driving and parking. Train travel between New York, Niagara Falls, and Boston is not only convenient; it’s fun. Holders of US and Canadian passports are not eligible for the bargain passes.
The drink called a “Buck’s Fizz” in the UK is called a “mimosa” in the USA.
Most restaurants in the USA do not include service on the bill. Most wait staff in the USA are poorly paid, they often do not receive even the minimum legal wage as it is presumed that they will make enough in tips to reach the minimum wage. Your waiter or waitress is taxed on the minimum wage but without tips actually earns less.
Most restaurants except “fine dining” ones provide free refills on iced tea and coffee. In the southern states mention whether you want iced tea sweetened or unsweetened.
Most moderately priced restaurants offer a salad (included in the pricing) of a meal. With sandwiches they usually offer fried potatoes or another side dish.
As an alternative to fast food try small local owned restaurants and sandwich shops throughout the USA, you’ll often find prices close to fast food prices.
Outside of Manhattan, most hotels except the most basic budget ones do have in room coffeemakers. If you prefer tea, it’s best to travel with your tea bags.
Restaurants serve large portions but most don’t mind giving you a carry out box so that you can take away half of your meal to eat later.
Outside of major cities you may have difficulty exchanging money so it’s best to travel with traveler’s checks in US dollars or exchange currency in larger cities.
In September you may see shops in beach and resort areas covered with large signs that say “Going out for business sale” these shops are not going out of business and everything offered will not be at a price reduction.
In days gone by you could often obtain a great deal on a hotel room by showing up without a booking and talking to the front desk. That’s a part of travel history. Even when hotels have empty rooms, staff do not always have the flexibility they had years ago. Today the best bargains on hotels are available when you book online. Many search engines offer special internet rates that require pre-payment, these rates are generally much lower than the rates available on site or those at the hotel chain’s website. As an added bonus, if you prepay with a credit card you will get the most advantageous exchange rate on your currency.
Speaking of credit cards, you can use credit cards almost everywhere in the USA even for small purchases of only a few dollars. You will not have to pay an extra surcharge for using your credit card. If you find yourself without cash for small purchases you can almost always pay by credit card without problem. Because banks exchange large sums you will almost always get the best possible rate on a credit card purchase. Some bargain conscious travelers even pay an extra amount before travel so that their credit card carries a positive balance before they travel.
Currently both the pound sterling and the euro are strong against the US dollar making 2004 a great year to do your Christmas shopping in the USA. Among luxury goods, keep in mind that Clinque, Orgins, and Estee Lauder are all USA companies and you’ll find good prices on them in department and some discount stores. Clothing and other textile products are inexpensive compared to comparable items in Western Europe. Other shoppers find that regional specialty items make unique, thoughtful gifts. Look for Native American crafts in the western USA, movie related goodies in the Los Angeles area, or spices and pecan pralines in New Orleans.
Mardi Gras falls on Tuesday, February 8, 2005. If you are planning on going it’s not too early to book a room. Some folks go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans every year and book nearly a year in advance so if you’ve got your heart set on going book early.
That’s it for this month
We’ll be back next month with information about Halloween and more news you can use to travel the USA.
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