Travel briefs

Monday, January 4, 2010

Travel briefs

Battleship Missouri open for visitors again in Pearl Harbor

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) — The battleship where officials from Japan and the Allied Forces signed surrender documents ending World War II is reopening after three months of maintenance and repairs.

The former USS Missouri, now called the Battleship Missouri Memorial, came out of drydock Jan. 7 and will start welcoming visitors again on Jan. 15.

The ship is located in Pearl Harbor, moored a few hundred yards from the USS Arizona, a battleship that sank when Japan attacked Dec. 7, 1941, forcing the U.S. into the war.

The surrender documents were signed on the Missouri’s deck on Sept. 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay.

The Missouri also served in the Korean and Persian Gulf wars before being decommissioned in 1992. The memorial opened in January 1999.

Details on planning a visit at

Caesars Palace in Vegas launching iPhone app, mobile check-in

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Casino officials at Caesars Palace say they are launching a new iPhone app and allowing guests to check into the Las Vegas Strip resort through text messaging.

Casino operator Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. says the new application and check-in system debut this month.

The iPhone app includes a customizable electronic postcard, resort information and the hotel’s Twitter feed.

The check-in system is for guests who book online at the Caesars Palace Web site. Casino officials say guests will receive a text message the day before they arrive with their confirmation number. Those who reply “check in” get to skip lines the next day and receive their key after presenting identification.

JFK airport runway in NYC to be shut down for four months

NEW YORK (AP) — The largest runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport will be shut down in March for renovations.

Airport officials say the runway will be closed for four months. The runway handles one-third of JFK’s total air traffic, including more than half of its departures.

During repairs, there will be fewer flights on carriers like Delta and JetBlue, according to The New York Times.

The shutdown could increase delays, but airport and airline officials insist there won’t be any major problems. They say that in the long run, the renovations will help reduce delays.

The repairs will include widening the runway, replacing its asphalt surface with concrete, and updating lighting and electrical systems.

Three snow virgins win Colorado vacations

DENVER (AP) — People who have never experienced snow before are about to get their chance.

The Colorado Tourism Office announced three winners from its “Snow at First Sight” contest: Trevor Allison, 21, from Atlanta, Ga., Deena Bright, 30, from Hawaii, and Ruchu Adhikary, 25, from Melbourne, Australia.

Applicants were asked to submit videos explaining why they should win. The three winning snow virgins get an expenses-paid, three-month trip to Colorado from January through March. With help from local instructors and guides, contest winners will sample winter activities like snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing, dogsledding, the all-important apres ski cocktail hour, maybe even ice climbing — then post on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter about it.

Details at

Amtrak’s Acela going Wi-Fi, DC to Boston

WASHINGTON (AP) — Amtrak’s Acela Express trains, which run from Washington to Boston, will soon be getting wireless Internet access.

Amtrak said that its installation of wireless Internet access on the high-speed trains would be complete in March and initially free to passengers. Amtrak made the announcement as part of a 2010 preview of its activities.

This year is the 10th anniversary of the Acela Express train service, which began operating in 2000. The trains make the trip from Washington to Boston in about six and a half hours, about an hour and a half faster than regional trains. Also in 2010 Amtrak will complete upgrades on the interiors of the Acela trains, including leather seats and improved tray tables and power outlets.

Last year Acela had some 3 million riders.

Smithsonian marks Elvis 75th with exhibit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Elvis Presley would be 75 if he were alive today, and if you can’t make it to Graceland to mark his birthday but you’ll be in Washington or Los Angeles, you can visit Elvis exhibits in those cities put together by the Smithsonian Institution.

“One Life: Echos of Elvis” at the museum in Washington is a small, one-room exhibit devoted to the influence of Presley’s image after his death.

It features portraits, a gold bust of Elvis as Julius Caesar and a 1993 stamp with his likeness that became the most popular U.S. postal stamp of all time.

In Los Angeles, the Grammy Museum is hosting the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit, “Elvis at 21: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer.” The photojournalist was hired to shoot promotional images of the young recording artist before he made it big.

Choice Hotels opening Haiti’s first chain hotels in a decade

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Choice Hotels is opening the first chain hotels to serve Haiti in almost a decade.

A spokesman for the Maryland-based company said a Comfort Inn will open in the Caribbean coastal city of Jacmel this May.

The 32-room motel will be owned by a New York-based group of Haitian-American investors. The partners also plan a 120-room upscale hotel at the nearby Belle Rive tourism development this fall.

These are the company’s first hotels in Haiti. Holiday Inn left Haiti several years ago and a planned Hilton hotel was canceled amid political upheaval and collapsing infrastructure.

The United Nations is leading an effort to attract tourism and investment back to the impoverished country.

North Dakota wants your vacation videos and photos

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s tourism is looking for photos, videos and reviews from visitors.

State tourism director Sara Otte Coleman says it’s part of developing North Dakota’s “I Am Legendary” tourism theme. This year the campaign features an “RULegendary” Web site with links to YouTube and social networking sites.

The campaign includes TV ads that are meant to appeal to Canadians and outdoors enthusiasts. It will focus on Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana and Wisconsin, as well as Manitoba and Saskatchewan provinces in Canada.

Coleman says this year’s campaign will ask visitors to contribute reviews and videos of their North Dakota experiences.

To submit your video or an image, go to and click on “Tell us your story.” The submission form has a line for URLs, which you can use to link to your photo or video. The first 10 submissions each month will be rewarded with “Legendary North Dakota” T-shirts.

Free terrain park opens for the season in Denver

DENVER (AP) — A free terrain park in Denver is getting its earliest start on the season ever.

Skiers and snowboarders started riding rails at the Ruby Hill Rail Yard Jan. 7, two days earlier than originally planned.

It’s the earliest start of the season for the terrain park since it launched in 2006.

The park will be open 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day until the end of February, weather permitting.

The city of Denver’s parks department, Winter Park Resort, volunteers, sponsors and donors help put on the park each year.

Yellowstone had record year for visitors despite economy

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — A miserable year for the economy didn’t prevent a record number of people from visiting Yellowstone National Park in 2009.

The National Park Service announced that 3.3 million people visited the world’s first national park last year, up 7.5 percent from 2008 and almost 5 percent more than the previous record set in 2007.

Four of Yellowstone’s top 10 years for tourism were in the past decade. The other six were in the 1990s.

Park officials say Yellowstone’s West Entrance is the busiest. More than 1.3 million tourists passed through the West Entrance in 2009.

Contemporary Native American artists at UNebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The artwork of six Native American artists will be featured at the Sheldon Museum of Art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The exhibit is titled “Migrations: New Directions in Native American Art.” It runs through April 25.

The six have completed residencies at the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque, N.M., or at the Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts in Pendleton, Ore.

The artists are Steven Deo, Tom Jones, Larry McNeil, Ryan Lee Smith, Star Wallowing Bull and Marie Watt.

The “Migrations” project is partially funded by grants from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Museum celebrating doc who discovered anesthesia reopens

JEFFERSON, Ga. (AP) — The Crawford Long Museum in Jefferson reopened in January after being closed more than a year for renovations.

The museum — dedicated to the celebrated Georgia physician who discovered anesthesia in 1842 — will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event includes free horse-drawn carriage tours of historic downtown Jefferson.

Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for students and children older than 5.

The museum has new exhibits and a revamped building after suffering from leaks and structural problems.

Details at

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