USATourist News MagazineNovember 2003
In this issue:
Almost every month I start the newsletter by telling you that it's a great month to visit the USA. Honestly, November really is one of the best months to come see us. And if you are one of the readers within the USA it's a great time for a quick vacation to see some sights close to home or across the country.
Well, if you are aware of holidays in the USA you know that the winter holiday season starts with Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November and things are fairly festive through New Year's Day. No matter where you are in the USA you'll find special events worth checking out in November and December.
If you're going to be in the Los Angeles area this month, mark your calendar for November 30th when you can see the Hollywood Christmas Parade. The parade runs from the front of the famous Graumann's Chinese Theater and goes down Hollywood Boulevard, Vine Street and Sunset Boulevard. You can purchase tickets for grandstand seats.
San Francisco always offers a lot of interesting things to do and great places to stay. If you are in the Bay area over the weekend of the 28th through the 30th of November, you may want to do some shopping at the Holiday Kwanzaa Gift Show. Located in the Oakland Convention Center and open from noon until 8 PM, the show charges a five-dollar admission fee and features African-American arts and crafts exhibitors from all over the Pacific coast. Live music and food vendors contribute to the festive atmosphere. On the same weekend, from 5:30 until 9 PM the Oakland Zoo comes alive with a huge holiday light display.
If your travel plans take you to Arizona this month, you're in for a treat. On November the 28th, 29th and 30th Rillito Raceway Park located at River Road and 1st Ave. in Tucson is home to the Native American Month Social Powwow and Indian Craft Market. The event's hours are Friday from 4 PM until 10 PM, Saturday from 12 PM until 1 PM and Sunday from noon until six. Admission is five dollars plus a new Christmas toy. (Don't wrap the toy.) Among the crowd of crafts people selling their wares you'll also find performances from dancers from over fifty tribes, drum contests, and Native American foods.
If you've never been to Las Vegas, November and December are super months to take a trip to the world's largest adult playground. If you haven't been lately you'll soon spot some changes in the town. For a few years Las Vegas developed family friendly attractions to interest travelers who weren't interested in the glitz, glamour, gambling and show that made this desert city famous. That's changed. Vegas has returned to her roots and you'll find adult entertainment is the mainstay of the city.
If you are traveling with your children a little bit of planning and scheduling some exciting day trips will provide fun for the entire family.
Whether you're taking an adult's only trip or traveling with the entire family you'll find an overwhelming array of hotels and resorts to choose from in Las Vegas. For luxury accommodations at moderate prices, the Best Western Tuscany All Suite Resort is a real winner. Located in 27 acres of well-maintained gardens only a block off the strip, the Tuscany offers international visitors currency exchange, staff that speaks a range of languages, and a large casino. Unlike many Las Vegas hotels, you can walk through the resort without entering the casino. What makes the Tuscany superior to other choices are the enormous rooms with refrigerators, a bath with separate shower and tub, a sitting area and separate eating area. You can really spread out indoors.
Outdoors you'll find something that's usual in Vegas: a peaceful place to walk or sit outside. The property has a gorgeous lagoon style pool, a lap pool, a state of the art gym, and even a guest accessible laundry.
Las Vegas is the most popular place in the USA for weddings and one of the easiest areas to get married in for visitors from other countries.
Sevierville Tennessee could easily be called "the town that Dolly Parton Built." Even though this tiny city standing at the gateway to the Smoky Mountains dates back long before the birth of Country & Western Music's grandest diva, it's been Dolly who has more of less put Sevierville on the map. The courthouse square is home to a bronze Dolly Parton perched on a rock playing her guitar. Sevier County Courthouse at 125 Court Avenue in Sevierville, telephone 865-453-5502 is where to go for a marriage license if you're in the area to get married.
I often get email from people who've enjoyed Walt Disney World in Florida and spent time in New York City who'd like to explore more of the USA and see how we live. In many ways that makes Sevierville the perfect destination particularly for people interested in understanding Appalachia.
To start off with there's Dollywood offering a lot more than the standard theme park rides --- oh, the rides are there but you'll also find authentic crafts, region food, and exhibits on area life. A few miles down the road you can venture into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park where among other sights you'll find more species of trees than there are in all of northern Europe. The park itself has an interesting history, when the people of North Carolina and Tennessee decided they wanted a park they fell a few million short of the funding to secure the property and start the park. John D. Rockefeller came through with the extra cash on the condition that the park be free of admission charges. Yes, that's right, the entire gorgeous area full of hiking trails and incredible views doesn't cost anything to enter.
You can also engage in some uniquely USA activities. Along the Parkway in Sevierville you'll find a NASCAR Speedpark where every one from small children to adults can test their skills on miniature raceways. Nearby you'll find a NASCAR café where you'll enjoy hearty helpings of food; if you visit during a race you'll find beer and appetizers at half price.
Next to the NASCAR Café sits The Mine, an attraction where you can learn how miners in the hills found precious gems and even try your hand at mining. You'll be able to mine a bit and can have your finds set into jewelry then and there.
On NASCAR Drive you'll find an unusual attraction --- Rainforest Adventure, one of the largest zoos featuring tropical animals in the world. The facility is all indoors and houses tropical birds, giant pythons, anacondas and other snakes seldom seen outside of the tropics. Rainforest Adventure has regular interactive shows where staff explain a lot about the reptiles. It's wonderfully entertaining and you learn a lot about the delicate ecosystems on our planet.
No trip to the USA is complete without a shopping excursion and Sevierville is home to Tanger Five Oaks an outlet mall so enormous that you'll really appreciate the free trolley service from area to area. Almost one hundred stores make up the complex.
Of course, if you long for an uncluttered serene afternoon instead of shopping, check out Five Oaks Riding Stables located just behind the Oak Tree Lodge directly opposite the huge outlet mall. They offer guided trail rides through peaceful rolling scenery on gentle horses. It's difficult to believe that the hustle and bustle of a multi-store shopping complex is just across the street while you ride through the wooded landscape. You can reach them by phone at 865-453-8644.
Best Western is a worldwide chain of hotels; odds are there is one in your hometown. With a range of properties from budget basics to luxury level they are unlike any other chain on the globe --- in a very good way. Best Western Hotels and Resorts reflect the region that they are in more than most hotel chains --- where many hotel chains are the same all over the planet look for regional touches in any Best Western.
Best Western Hotels tend to be affordable, value-for-money properties with clean comfortable rooms and all the standard hotel amenities. You'll also find some luxury properties as well as those with unusual charm. It's a great chain if you want to sample a bit of the area you visit without the risk of landing in an inferior or unsafe room.
With numerous locations off exits in our interstate system this chain serves breakfast and burgers twenty-four hours a day to thousands of drivers taking a break. Waffle House is almost as fast as "fast food" and just a wee bit more expensive. It offers more choice and flexibility than fast food with twenty-four hour service of breakfast and dinner entrees. You'll find omelets, burgers, (obviously) waffles, and endlessly refilled cups of coffee. The hash brown potatoes with onions and cheese that Waffle House serves have an almost cult following.
Waffle House's familiar yellow exterior can been seen in twenty-five out of fifty states in the USA.
Waffle House also has a few heart healthy choices along the lines of soup and salad. But, I have to confess that when I'm on the road a waffle drenched in butter and syrup is one of my guilty pleasures.
As always I love hearing from readers, reach me at MsTravel (email address no longer active). I'll be back next month with more news you can use to plan a trip in the USA!
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