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USATourist News Magazine

November 2002

In this issue:

U.S. Holidays

Fall foliage is still glorious in some parts of the states. In fact this has been a very unusual year for fall color and many places are not at their peak yet --- so if you are visiting now or planning to soon, you aren't too late for leaves. We've just set back the clocks a bit because of the autumn time change.

And it's the beginning of the holiday season that starts with Halloween and runs through Christmas and New Year's Day. If you're seeking a spectacular break over the Christmas season there's always Walt Disney World in Florida. But, no matter where you are in the USA during December, you won't be far from Christmas magic.

If you're spending December in the California Wine Country check out, a volunteer run website detailing the best lighting displays in the area. Lights are normally in place from Thanksgiving until Christmas. The valley area prides itself on being family-oriented and has the best displays of residential lights in Northern California. The Tri-Valley area is 35 miles east of San Francisco and 18 miles south east of Oakland.

If you're going to be in Texas you won't want to miss the Zilker Park Trail of Lights in Austin running from the second Sunday in December until December 23rd. The Zilker tree lighting ceremony is the first Sunday in December. Visitors to Trail of Lights may either park in Zilker Park for $5, enter the park from MoPac (Interstate 35, Loop 1), or ride the shuttle from the State lots at 17th and San Jacinto. The Trail of Lights features almost forty massive displays of lights. It is a pedestrian event. Visitors unable to walk can use a tram service. To use the tram you must call (512) 480-3049 to make a reservation. The annual hot air Balloon Glow, a nocturnal display of lighted hot air balloons is a special feature of the Trail of Lights; call the Austin Parks and Recreation Department at (512) 974-6700 for date and time. You'll also find that from December 1 through Christmas Day 37th Street in Austin offers a decorative display. Take I-35, exit at 38th Street travel west onto Speedway. Take a left onto Cedar, the first left after Speedway. If you take MoPac, exit at 35th Street and go west until 35th becomes 38th. At Guadalupe turn right and look for parking on a side street. You'll enjoy it more if you the length of 37th instead of driving down the street.

But, before Christmas there's the uniquely American holiday Thanksgiving and there's no better place to spend it than Boston, Massachusetts. The best way to really understand and enjoy the holiday's history is to take a tour with Happy Trails Historic Tours they'll pick you up at your hotel or the train station and show you all around Plymouth including a visit to the replica of the Mayflower. Best of all they'll explain the history of the early settlers in an entertaining fashion so that you'll be able to understand quite a bit about how the USA got started. If you are interested in the history of the anti-slavery movement in America they have a tour the focused on that part of our history as well as the earlier segments. Tickets are unbelievably affordable --- a full day tour including boarding the Mayflower II, a visit to Plimoth Plantation, all the historic sites of the town and lunch costs less than sixty US dollars per adult.

Shopping in the USA

Of course the run up to Christmas means many people will spend part of their time shopping and the USA is a great place to shop these days particularly for people from countries using the Euro are the two currencies are running neck and neck these days. Even experienced travelers might want to review our shopping tips before splurging. And keep in mind a few other things:

Men's clothing sizes in the USA are fairly standardized --- a thirty-four waist is a thirty-four waist and that's that.

Women's clothing sizes are NOT standardized and a woman's size ten in UK sizes can "translate" into a USA size 2, 4, or 6. If you are shopping for someone else it's best to buy things that don't require an exact fit or stick to clothing companies that you are very familiar with.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware is a major outlet center easily accessible from Washington, DC and New York City. It's a great two or three day shopping side trip in the months before Christmas because it's low season for this seaside town and room rates drop. Delaware has no state sales tax so it makes shopping a lot less expensive for big buyers.

And a special note for ladies who love cosmetics: many of my friends overseas love Clinque Products. Check for them in discount stores and department stores when you are roving around the states --- they aren't cheaper in Duty Free because they are made here in America so your best buy will come before you fly.

Gaming Craze

The current gaming craze Everquest is popular all over the globe. If you are one of the hundred thousand folks on line playing the game at any given time you might be planning to come to San Francisco for EverQuest FanFaire on November the 8th. It is expected that rooms at the Marriott that's the central hotel for the event will sell out soon. If you are going and find that they have no room at the inn, check our hotel search engine for lots of alternative choices in San Francisco.

If you are into a different type of fantasy world mark November 15th on your calendar. That's when the next Harry Potter film makes its US debut ---so if you are visiting us you can get the jump on your friends back home be seeing it a bit before it whirls round the rest of the world.

Hit Show

Dance lover? If you loved "Lord of the Dance" and wore out your video of "White Nights" you've got to book tickets for Movin' Out right now. Featuring Twyla Tharp's brilliant choreography and Billy Joel's music this show tells it's story through dance - no dialogue, just close to two hours of high octane dance performance the like of which hasn't been seen since Bob Fosse was alive. The show opened October 24th and is already in line to become one of those once-in-a-lifetime theatrical productions that people talk about for decades. If you are even thinking about being in New York City soon, you must grab a ticket.

Train Travel

According to the Department of Transportation Amtrak and supporting rail systems will not be a soft target and train travel in the USA will remain safe. Precautions are in place.

Mac Travel has a special promotion going on for our Amtrak Rail Passes. Their products are 3day, 5day, 7day Amtrak Rail Passes for international visitors in the Northeast region of the U.S.

The Northeast region has many scenic train routes, but the best and the most famous one is "Adirondack Line" which runs between Washington DC and Montreal. It is praised as one of the "TOP 10 TRAIN ROUTES IN THE WORLD" by many travel professionals including famous "Conde Nast" magazine. The best time to travel this route is from the end of September to the middle of October when the foliage covers the whole area. It's not too late to take a train trip as fall foliage season has been prolonged by unusal weather.

Diane Goldberg

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