Catalina is a small island off the coast of Long Beach California, and its most famous landmark is the magnificent Art Deco Casino which sits on Avalon Harbor. The casino was built by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr, who owned much of the island in May of 1929. It was not a casino in the usual form with no gaming, it was actually a theatre designed for the first talking movies. The theatre has seating for 1154 people and there is also a ballroom which can cater for around 6000 making it the world’s largest circular ballroom, it has a whopping 55metre round dance floor. The interior of the casino was restored a few years back returning the building to its former glory with amazing fresco walls and murals, incredible plasterwork and ornate lighting. Read the rest of this entry »
Posts Tagged ‘USA’
The burnt orange Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco’s best known and loved icon. Spanning 4200 feet across San Francisco Bay the bridge built in 1937 carries six lanes of US 101, 67 metres above the water. Construction started in January of 1935 and cost 35 million dollars to complete, taking just over four years to complete and it remained the longest suspension bridge until 1964 when it was surpassed by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge which links Brooklyn with Staten Island. The bridge colour is officially called International Orange and was painted this colour to stand out in the thick fog which San Francisco harbor readily sees. Around 120,000 vehicles use the bridge on any given day which is controlled by a toll. Pedestrians and cyclists are permitted to use the bridge on the eastern side which faces the city during daylight hours. The walk is about 1.7 miles long and can get busy especially on sunny weekends when it is a very popular pastime. Just remember it might be a nice day but it’s sure to be windy crossing the bay and the fog can roll in very quick. Many tourists visit the historic Roundhouse which houses a giftshop and historical information centre. There are a wealth of books, memorabilia and other interesting items on the Golden Gate Bridge which make great souvenirs. The Roundhouse can be found on the southern side of the bridge. The northern side of the bridge also has a popular and moving tribute, The Loan Sailor Memorial located near the Vista Point parking lot is an important US Navy Memorial.
The Golden Nugget is the largest of the Las Vegas Downtown casinos consisting of just over 1900 guest rooms and 3500 square metres of gaming space. The casino is currently undergoing a major expansion to increase the hotel space by 500 rooms. The Golden Nugget opened in August of 1946 and is famous for its huge gold nuggets on display including the worlds largest, called the Hand of Faith it weighs in at a whopping 27.21 kilograms and was found in Australia. The Golden Nugget has some great dining options including a branch of the world famous Houston steak house Vic & Anthonys. There is also one of the best buffets downtown with live cooking stations and a huge array of tasty foods.
The Wynn is one of the most beautiful and luxurious of the Las Vegas casino resort complexes. Located on the Las Vegas Boulevard between Riviera and Spanish styled Palazzo and opposite the Fashion Show Mall the hotel has over 2700 rooms, 10300 square metres of gaming space, and huge conference, theatre and convention facilities. It is sister to the adjacent Encore which has just been completed and doubles the facility. The complex features some amazing shopping and even is home to a Ferrari dealership- very handy after a huge win. The gardens are spectacular and grounds make up the Wynn Golf Club. For partygoers there are several great nightclubs including Tryst which includes a 90ft waterfall and lake in the centre of the club- it is quiet spectacular. For diners there is no better in Vegas, with choices like Ristorante di Mare, Bartolotta and the world famous French Alex which holds two Michelin Stars and is the restaurant of Iron Chef USA Alessandra Stratta.
Bills Gamblin Hall and Saloon is one of the smaller entertainment complexes on the Las Vegas Boulevard and doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of the big resorts but has a great old time charm which makes it very popular with the young and elderly. Their signature attraction is one of the Strips ‘best’ Big Elvis yes you heard it right, he is a 500 plus pound impersonator of Elvis Presley and boy is he talented. The casino features just under 200 rooms and has around 1600 square metres of gaming space with all the favorites including slots, poker and a race room. There is plenty of free entertainment in the gaming rooms and drinks and food are very reasonable.
The Aladdin was one of the first of the theme resorts on the Vegas strip, but that has made way for one of the most exciting Planet Hollywood Las Vegas. This 2600 room resort has 9300 square metres of gaming and huge show rooms and shopping strips. Just renovated the resort has one of the freshest looks on the strip. A drink or two at the Mezzanine is a must for any visitor it has spectacular views of the video walls and neon of the gaming lounge and a great way to escape the Vegas heat. Planet Hollywood has some great dining too, the Spice Market Buffet is a must for anyone hungry with an international selection of dishes. For fine Japanese its hard to go past KOI it has an amazing candle lit atmosphere and for steak lovers the Strip House offers some of Vegas’ juiciest steaks.
The medieval themed Excalibur opened in 1990 and has been a favorite on the Las Vegas Strip. Having just over 4000 rooms and over 9300 metres of beautifully themed gaming space the casino is a treat for young and old alike. The hotel was the worlds biggest hotel at opening but many more Vegas mega hotels have claimed that title since. The resort features one of Las Vegas’ longest running and most popular shows THE Tournament of Kings. This amazing show features medieval jousting and is a lot of fun and can be done as a medieval dinner show. For the ladies there’s plenty of buff action with the Thunder from Downunder show and there is always some entertainment playing around the complex. Being a family hotel the kids haven’t been forgotten either underwater legend Sponge Bob Square Pants features in an incredible 4D adventure ride and the huge pool is one of Vegas’s best.
Only a little over an hours drive from Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando Florida is the Kennedy Space Centre home to the Apollo Missions and the Space Shuttle, it was also the setting for the popular ’60’s comedy I dream of Jeanie. The centre offers an amazing chance to get up close to some of the world’s most amazing technology and for some lucky people even the chance to see a launch. The centre has an incredible visitors centre with many artefacts and even an IMAX cinema but the highlight is catching a bus and going out onto the facility and visiting the launch pads where the space shuttle is launched and to visit a proper Apollo rocket and Saturn V modules. The size of these objects are just staggering and the items on display are breathtaking. The centre offers a great option to escape the hustle and bustle of the theme parks for a day and see up close an important piece of America’s history. Read the rest of this entry »
Alcatraz Island or the Rock as it is commonly known is one of the major tourist sights in beautiful San Francisco. Located in the centre of San Francisco Bay the island has had a long history as a fort and more notably both a military and a federal prison, becoming home to many of the most notorious criminals of the USA before it closed in 1963. Today the island is administered by the National Park Service and ferries leaving Pier 33 near Fisherman’s Wharf offer trips and tours of the facility. The island has an abundance of wildlife and rare plant life and is nesting grounds for many birds. The island is free to visit although ferries are the only way to get to the island, which have a transportation charge, booking should be made in advance as only so many people can be transported a day. The tour thought the grounds and the prison facility is accompanied by a fantastic audio tour which really give you a first hand experience of what the prison was really like- its quiet eerie.
The Statue of Liberty has been fully reopened to visitors after closing in September of 2001 after the terrorist attacks on New York City. For the last few years visitors have only been able into the pedestal of the grand old lady but now are able to climb the narrow winding stairs to the top to see the spectacular view of Manhattan through a series tiny windows in the crown. It is expected the climb will be open for two years and then closed for another period for some maintenance and safety works. Due to the restricted space only a limited number of people are able to climb the statue every day, the number is around 30 an hour, so it is going to be one of the most sought after things to do in New York City. Tickets can be purchased up to a year in advance from the cruise companies, and for added security people must show ID matching the names on the ticket to use them. Good news is the tickets only cost $3 each on top of the usual $12 ferry ride.The Statue of Liberty has been looking over the skyline of Manhattan since October of 1886 and is the world’s most recognisable statue, with smaller copies in Paris and Tokyo also much loved and are regular stops on tourist tours of both cities.
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