Saturday USA snippets – July 5th 2014

By | Category: Travel news
the Saturn V moon rocket at the Kennedy Space Center

the Saturn V moon rocket at the Kennedy Space Center

Last year, there were 3,840, 000 visits by Brits to the USA. It is only going to grow because who can remember the last time sterling was around $1.70 and there were at least 75 direct flights every single day. Now that Norwegian – a seemingly unlikely candidate  – is offering low-cost flights to the US I would imagine that there will be more than 4 million of us who will have visited the States this year.

Continuing with a western/cowboy theme that has been noticeable in Just about Travel this week, in North Dakota there is a place called Bonanzaville, USA, a re-created frontier town and museum that allows visitors to experience a small community of the late 19th century.  In nearby Fargo-Moorhead you will also find the Plains Art Museum and to bring you up into modern times, will you find the Fargo Air Museum that specialises in flyable war planes. What you might not expect is that there is the Hjemkomst, a replica of an ancient Viking ship, which completed a voyage to Norway in 1982. This part of the world has strong links with Norway which provided many immigrants along with Canadians, Germans and Icelanders. The Hjemkomst can be found at the museum attached to the Historical & Cultural Society of Clay County.

Texas has more places with direct links to the UK than any other state except Florida – Austin, Dallas and Houston – so perhaps it is no surprise then that the UK is the third largest source of visitors into the state. Given that first is Mexico and the second is Canada, both understandable given that they have common borders, it is a surprise that the UK is so important given the distance and time that has to be travelled. Last year 192,000 of us went there. This year it will be even more as the British Airways flight to Austin will provide more seats. This is three times more than any other European country send s to Texas. No wonder, then, that so many cities and areas in Texas were here this week chatting to travel agents and tour operators. Expect Texan holidays to loom large when the 2015 holidays start to go on sale.

Florida is the biggest destinations for Brits and in Miami, over the summer, Zoo Miami is offering a special of $5 admission, sponsored by Ford Motor Company. Ford will be hosting events on July 2-6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors will receive prizes when they register to win a new 2015 Ford Fusion. Tampico will also be distributing free fruit flavoured drink samples to help keep visitors refreshed today and Greyhound partners will be handing out gifts on July 5 & 6.

Further up the coast, the Kennedy Space Center is a big visitor attraction. This year they have expanded the offer with the new Space Shuttle AtlantisSM, the opportunity to meet real astronauts and exploring Kennedy Space Center. Costing $100 million the new attraction takes guests on “an emotional journey of discovery unlike any other,” says the Center. The Space Shuttle Atlantisbrings visitors nose to nose with Atlantis as only astronauts have seen it before – with payload bay doors open as if it were floating in space. More than 60 exciting, educational touch-screen experiences and high-tech simulators invite guests of all ages and all interest levels – from students to “space geeks” – to “be the astronaut,” bringing to life the people, passion and patriotism behind NASA’s 30-year Space Shuttle Program.

On the other side of the country in North Hollywood in California –known as NoHo – there has been a rush in placing murals on buildings. The newest is on Al’s Discount Furniture store and that brings the number of murals to over 30. According to the artist, Levi Ponce,  “Murals are community projects that bring together artists, business owners and local youth, often to transform defaced city walls into works of art that neighbourhoods take pride in.” this area of Hollywood was comparatively run-down up until a few years ago. Now it is one of the trendiest places with lots of restaurants, bars and bistros. If you want to hunt out-of-work actors or future wannabees, NoHo is the place.

the cruise terminals in Seattle

the cruise terminals in Seattle

Staying on the west coast, Seattle in the state of Washington which buts the Canadian border has become a huge cruise port with 178 cruise ships using it as a base for Pacific north-west and Alaskan cruises. 805,000 passengers will pass through their city on their way to the icy shores. That cold climate means that cruises only take place in late Spring and summer months so ships almost queue up to use the two cruise terminals in the city. Today, for example, three ships from three different cruise companies are due to dock and that is on top of the two yesterday (an unfortunate phrase but you know what I mean) and three tomorrow.  With direct links to the UK, Seattle is seeing more and more of heading to the city. But if you are on a cruise make sure you leave enough time not only to see the city but to go out to Puget Sound and see the San Juan Islands.

I have been a fan for some time how New York City & Co, the tourism arm of the city highlights particular neighbourhoods of the city particularly as Boris hasn’t tried this in London or has it entered the minds of tourist authorities in our other big cities. In June the focus was on Jamaica Bay and Rockaway Beach. Jamaica Bay is a popular spot for bird-watchers and is the perfect place to look for butterflies, birds and fish.  Rockaway Beach’s ocean setting makes it a popular summer destination.  This month, the focus switches to City Island and Pelham Bay Park which offer the Bronx’s only public beach – Orchard Beach – and the popular seafood restaurants and harbour views along City Island Avenue. Pelham Bay Park is actually New York City’s largest public park.

Vermont is a New England state in the north-east corner of the USA. Known primarily as a winter sports destination (remember the film White Christmas?) I is also a place people go to see the turning Autumn foliage. What fewer people realise is that it was also the home to many native American tribes. Britons are the largest group of visitors to native American sites. We go even more than Americans do, so a new website that gives the history of thse peoples in the state will arose interest in us. Vermont tourism officials will also hope that it will stimulate us to visit the often overlooked state.

Atlanta has direct flights from the UK and serves as one of the biggest hubs through which overseas passengers can travel to get to other places. But this year, some will prefer to stay in the city as it celbrates the 75th anniversary of the opening of the film, Gone with the Wind. Needless to say there are a number of events lined up to celebrate the film. There are tours of the Gone with the Wind districts of Atlanta every day but Sunday at 1pm, Margaret Mitchell’s – the author of the book -apartment is now a museum and the Georgan Terrace Hotel is where Mitchell handed her publisher the manuscript. It was also where Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh danced the night away when the fim launched.

50 shades of greyIn Portland in Oregon – one of my favourite places – there is a hotel called The Heathman. In that oversold novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, the author -E L James – makes the hotel the main haunt of the two main characters. Anastasia Steela and Christian Grey meet regularly and the hotel has not been slow on capitalising on the link. In fact I bet James never has to pay if she stays there so much publicity has she given it! there is even a Fifty Shades of Grey gin based cocktail, which, thanks goodness, doesn’t look grey to drink.

That’s all folks, as one famed US character once said. Normal service will be resumed next week when I consider travel stories from all around the world not just one country. But don’t be lulled into normal service for too long. The week after contains the French national day so guess what? Yes, a snippets full of stories about France!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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