Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

Planning a Trip To Las Vegas

las vegasLas Vegas is ‘the’ place to let your hair down and have fun, and everyone can benefit with a few helpful hints. Sightseeing, activities, wining and dining are at their best when you are ready and prepared with inside city information to plan your Las Vegas itinerary.

Entertainment and Activities
Travel and tourism guide books are updated weekly and available in hotel lobbies, restaurants and McCarren International Airport for the latest news on free attractions, special engagements and valuable coupons for Las Vegas activities and it’s environs. Discounts for Hoover Dam, helicopter tours, show tickets, mall shopping and city dining are jammed packed into every issue to rack up the savings on a fabulous Las Vegas holiday.

Clothing and Attire
The climate conditions in the desert can fluctuate from blistering summer heat to cold and windy in the winter, so be prepared to check the weather conditions before you go. Casual and comfortable clothing is appropriate for daytime sightseeing, however, some of the upscale clubs, dinner houses and casinos prefer a more formal attire.

Shopping and Las Vegas Deals
The Las Vegas Premium Outlet Mall is located at 875 South Grand Central Parkway and is the city’s foremost shopping center to pick up some great deals. Hundreds of retailers offer rock bottom prices on fashion, gifts, toys, jewelry, house wares and more. Shuttle service to the Premium Outlet Mall is provided by the Citizens Area Transit, or CAT bus, running a round trip pick-up and drop-off route from the major hotels on the Strip. Group discounts are available and a multi-lingual staff is ready to help.

Getting To Las Vegas
Some of the best bargain prices for Las Vegas holidays can be made when purchasing a hotel and flight package deal. Rates for weekend and extended stays in a major hotel on the Strip are set by the hotel star system and the day of the week and holidays reserved. In addition to an overnight Las Vegas holiday, southern California bus tours operate a 24 hour gaming excursion to include a coupon book, cash for slots, round trip bus fare and dinner. Because the bus tour one-day escape does not use a hotel room, the rates are about the best deal in town for dinner, a show and a few hours in the casinos.

My Whirlwind Tour of New York City

new-yorkI was fortunate enough a few years back to be able to plan a weeklong trip to New York City that allowed me to experience a lot of what the city has to offer. Although I was a student, and thus my funds were quite short, I had acquired enough that would allow me to visit enough of the must-see attractions to make my trip unforgettable.

During one summer vacation, my friends and I decided to road trip it to New York City for one fun-filled week. We booked ourselves into the cheapest hostel we could find and bunked up for the duration of our trip. Being able to save precious money on our accommodations left us lots for much more important things like sightseeing and experiencing the city in all its glory. The hostel was clean, but incredibly hot and stuffy when trying to sleep as there was no air conditioning and the weather was very hot while we were there. Nevertheless, our accommodations were great for what we needed, as we didn’t spend any time there except to sleep.

One full week proved to be the perfect amount of time to see the sights and deplete our cash. The subway became our friend, and enabled us to visit all the major areas of the city including Greenwich Village, SoHo, Harlem, and Upper, Mid, and Lower Manhattan. We spent a lot of time in Time Square, not so much because we wanted to but because we were subconsciously drawn to it. It seemed like almost every day we ended up in Time Square at some point. We also spent a good part of one day wondering around Central Park. You never really appreciate its size until you are inside it and try to navigate your way through it.

Because of our meager funds, we were unable to spend much time shopping which was a bit heartbreaking being in a fashion hotspot. I plan to return with more spending money so that I can take full advantage of the shopping next time. Instead of spending our money on shopping, we put it towards seeing many of the city’s sites and attractions. We took the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, went up the Empire State Building, went to the Metropolitan Museum and the Guggenheim, took a tour of Rockefeller Center and NBC Studios, toured Wall Street and Ground Zero, and visited the United Nations.

If that still doesn’t seem like enough, we were also lucky enough to score some last minute student-discount tickets to two Broadway shows. These shows actually ended up being my favorite part of the whole trip. We got to see the Phantom of the Opera and The Producers and for both shows we had pretty fantastic seats. It was a special highlight of our trip because we hadn’t gone expecting to be able to see anything.

Finally, no trip to New York City would be complete without experiencing some of the nightlife. We went out one night in Harlem and one night in the meat packing district. Both nights were fun and offered completely different experiences. It added a little something extra to our trip and made us feel a little less touristy for a minute or two.

Spend a Weekend with American History in Boston

bostonBoston, the Hub, Bean Town; no matter what you call it is recognized around the world as the Cradle of Liberty. Despite its growth into a modern world class city with tall buildings straddling major highways, it still safeguards pockets of our nation’s colonial history. The revolutionary period is alive in Boston, and you can flavor most of it in a single weekend. Coming from North Carolina, you would think I had enough opportunity to experience early American history with all of the famous battles fought in the Carolinas between the Swamp Fox, Frances Marion, the Colonial Militia, and Britain’s Lord Cornwallis; but only Boston has incorporated the American Revolution and its major characters into its everyday experience.

It’s been several years now since my wife and I, along with two young sons, made the trip to Boston. Staying in one of the many fine in-town hotels can be a tad pricey, especially for a family, but that shouldn’t be a problem if you have or rent an automobile. The great highway systems leading into Boston from the suburbs offer plenty of inexpensive places to stay that lie about thirty minutes out of the city.

Lexington and Concord are adjacent to one of those highways, and offer not only excellent lodging, but a great taste of revolutionary history as well from the bridge over the Concord River where, in the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, “…the embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard round the world.” Only a few miles away, you can visit Lexington Green where the first pitched battle between the British regulars and the minutemen took place.

Boston is a city to be appreciated by walking and by tour bus. The city’s great shuttle tour bus network will get you to all the places that you must see, and leave you there with pickups every hour until late at night. In one day you can visit the family home of Paul Revere and climb the seemingly endless stairway to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument. You can visit and tour the USS Constitution “Old Ironsides,” the oldest ship in the United States Navy that is actively commissioned, has a full crew complement, and is ready to go into harm’s way when needed.

No visit to Boston is complete without visiting and enjoying the Italian flavor of Boston’s North End with its fine restaurants. While you’re there, you can visit the Old North Church where Paul Revere climbed to the church bell tower to signal that the British were indeed on their way. Toward evening you can walk through the Boston Public Gardens and the Common to Tremont Street where the gravesites are spotted with names from our history books: Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, William Dawes, John Hancock, the parents of Benjamin Franklin, and the victims of the Boston Massacre.

At the end of each day of touring, you can visit the shops and restaurants at Haymarket Square and stop at the famous New England Oyster House for a bowl of hot delicious “Clam Chowda.” Just one word of advice, however, when you plan your trip to Boston, keep in mind that it is in New England, a place with formidable winters. Visit in the late spring, summer, or early fall to ensure that you enjoy the city at its weather best.

Niagara is not only for Honeymooners

niagraIf your vision of Niagara Falls is one of a geographical area filled with honeymooners who spend all day inside with the shades drawn and come out in the evening for food and drink, you’re only partly right. Niagara Falls is a great place for memorable family fun. My wife and I took our two kids there when they were seven and ten years old, and had a great time. Keep in mind that Niagara Falls straddles the Canadian border, and it’s very cold in the winter. Unless you enjoy the cold and high winds, plan your trip during the summer months.

Niagara Falls really involves two cities that are separated by the Niagara River: Niagara Falls, New York and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. While my coming admission is bordering on the verge of traitorous behavior, I must say that the Niagara Falls experience is much better from the Canadian side. The falls themselves are mesmerizing. It’s one thing to appreciate the beauty and majesty of the falls in a photograph, but a totally different experience to feel the power of the water as it thunders endlessly into the lower river.

One of the most exciting family adventures at Niagara Falls is the Journey Behind the Falls, which is a series of tunnels that allow you to take a scenic tour of the waterfall from behind the falling cascade of water. Two tunnels penetrate to a distance of about 50 yards behind the falls where you can stand in awe while watching the cascading water, hearing the thunderous roar, and feeling the water’s enormous power.

When you’re not standing in awe before the falls, there are a number of other fine attractions to keep the family busy for days. The Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens is a must see with over 50 acres of beautifully maintained flower gardens. Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks provides a great learning experience for the kids, and if the kids are old enough, the Nightmare Fear Factory is a memorable thriller that can be talked about fun for the entire family.

And, of course, we can’t forget food. Niagara falls has some excellent restaurants, featuring fine foods from both the French and English Canadian cultures. The most visible restaurant is the space needle that sets so prominently in the skyline. It is a smaller version of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. The food is great and the view is spectacular, especially at night when the falls are illuminated. Niagara Falls is a visit that your family will enjoy immensely and will never forget. A lifelong memory.

Jazz up Life in the Big Easy

new-orleansTake it from me, you should never consider going to New Orleans for a rest. Our trip to New Orleans wasn’t a vacation; it was a fun-filled action-packed adventure from start to finish. From Louis Armstrong Park to the Mississippi River, the French Quarter is simply packed with fine food, music, and entertainment. Much of the entertainment is not from professional entertainers; it’s found by simply watching the people, especially in the evening when the night life defines the area.

We happened to visit at a time when the Big Easy was in the midst of one of its several jazz festivals. Each day, different jazz ensembles would play in Jackson Square in front of the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral. Jackson square is really the social center of the city during the day. Mimes and living statues provide mesmerizing entertainment. Caricaturists, portrait painters, and sketch artists abound around the perimeter of the square to formalize a memory of your visit for a reasonable, often negotiable, cost. Horse drawn carriage tours start from the river side of the park, and they are well worth the cost. With about one hour invested in a carriage tour, we became imbued with a feeling for New Orleans architecture and lifestyle.

We were fortunate enough to have great weather throughout our entire visit. One entire day was spent on a Mississippi Riverboat; a magnificent rear paddle wheel boat on which we took a tour down river to the site of the great Battle of New Orleans. Walking over the still pristine battlefield where Andy Jackson fended off the British was quite an experience for a history buff like me. The paddle wheeler itself was a marvel, with its excellent restaurant. Neither my wife nor I left the boat hungry.

But, then there is never any reason to be hungry for a moment in New Orleans. Restaurants lie next to other restaurants all around and emanating out from Jackson Square. Emeril, of Food Network fame, has several fine restaurants in the area. The Café du Monde, famous for its café au lait and beignets is just a few quick minutes walk from the center of Jackson Square. Jimmy Buffet’s original Margaritaville Restaurant is nearby.

We stayed for a full week at a fine hotel on the edge of the French Quarter. The city never sleeps. Each morning my wife and I would leave the hotel at sunrise and walk toward Jackson Square, having breakfast along the way. Each day, the square would be the center from which we would launch our day’s adventure, and each day was full.

Some true vacations are a time for relaxation and recharging your batteries for a return to the routine of life. Not so with our trip to New Orleans. We slept most of the way home on the return flight. Although we returned home nearly exhausted, we will always remember our New Orleans visit as an exciting experience.

© 2012 Pat Travels the World