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NEED TO KNOW

Reno's annual Artown festival provides art on the cheap

Also, the Statue of Liberty tweets, a San Francisco grande dame is renovated and cinda b duffels let you stuff it.

July 12, 2009|Rosemary McClure; Jane Engle; Judi Dash

If you're looking for a budget vacation, check out Reno's annual Artown festival, which is offering 400 events this month in the Nevada city, most free. The lineup includes concerts, cultural celebrations, theatrical performances, dance, art exhibits, outdoor movies and children's workshops. The festival draws more than 100 artists, musicians and other presenters. Among this year's participants are musician Ottmar Liebert (Friday), dance company Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (July 24) and bluegrass performer Rhonda Vincent (July 25). Each year the festival attracts more than 350,000 peo- ple to downtown Reno and other community venues for afternoons spent enjoying music in the park and evenings viewing movies under the stars Info: (775) 322-1538 or see www.renoisartown.com

-- Rosemary McClure

How hip is this for a 122-year-old lady? The Statue of Liberty is tweeting on the social networking site Twitter.com (@statuelibrtynps) and giving e-tours of her innards, just in time for the busy summer tourist season. The tweeters, who include park rangers, give tips such as how to get through statue security. The e-tour is a good ride, with videos, 360-degree panoramas, historic photos, ranger talks and fun facts. Audio tours of the statue and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum ($8 per adult; discounts for students and seniors) have also been updated, with an interactive children's version and other extras.

Arts on the cheap in Reno

A Lady tweets

-- Jane Engle

A fresh look

The 105-year-old Westin St. Francis Hotel, the grande dame of San Francisco's Union Square, has put on a $40-million new face that adds modern amenities and upgrades old favorites. The two-year renovation includes a redesigned main lobby, the addition of a Michael Minn cocktail lounge named the Clock Bar and the refurbishment of the hotel's 614 guest rooms, which now have wireless Internet access and 37-inch flat-screen TVs. The changes mark the most extensive restoration undertaken by the hotel, a city icon, since the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906. "As we look to the future, this monumental transformation ensures that the hotel will maintain its standing as a world-class property," said general manager Jon Kimball. Rates start at $139 per night. Info: (800) 917-7458 or www.westinstfrancis.com.

-- Rosemary McClure

Stuff it

The quilted fabric duffels from cinda b are attractive for their sinuous flower and geometric patterns in luscious color combinations, as well as their light weight -- an unusual combination in a travel bag. Available in several sizes, from a 16-inch-by-9-inch-by-9-inch-deep Overnighter to a 24-inch-by-14-inch-by-14-inch-deep Vacationer, the water-resistant poly/nylon bags are lined, have dual locking zippers, double fabric shoulder straps and multiple external and internal pouches and pockets. Good news: They're machine washable. Quilted fabric duffels start at $75 at (877) 692-4632, www.cindab.com.

-- Judi Dash

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