This month, I was lucky enough to receive copies of two beautiful guidebooks from that I’m excited to use to plan future vacations. The first thing I noticed when these books arrived was how dense they are. They’re each about 500 pages, but stacked on top of one another are only 2/3 the height of a tissue box and about the same length and width. The pages are of beautiful quality, thin to make the books this manageable size and glossy for vividly colored photographs. Both have the obvious advantage/disadvantage of including locations throughout the US, so are most useful if you’re likely to travel across much of the country.
National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways
I love how this book is laid out. It’s divided into six geographic regions and each section begins with a map showing all the routes in that region. This seems incredibly useful for planning longer road trips. The description of each route begins with a distance and time to drive, plus a recommended time of year and/or tips about how to best enjoy the drive. The author then describes interesting highlights of the route. I admit I haven’t read every entry, since I intend to use this as a reference rather than as reading material, but my impression is that the suggested sites are mainly natural wonders and museums or visitors centers. Beautiful color pictures are included throughout. Color coded page edges make finding a section easy and the book ends with a thorough index.
National Geographic Guide to State Parks
This book is laid out very much like the previous one, which is great. Stick with what works! Again, the maps at the beginning of chapters seem perfect for road-trippers. The beginning of the sections on each state park also include a useful overview. This includes information such as when the park is open, whether there are entrance fees, info on weather, and some brief highlights of what you can do there. The full entry generally begins with a descriptive passage, including interesting ecological information, beautiful portraits of the park, etc. Every section I looked at included a section suggesting things to do at the park, as well as info lodging or camping. Some sections included fun bonuses, like other nearby activities or hikes near the park. Although the cover indicates more than 950 parks are covered, closer to 250 get detailed descriptions. Each geographic section then ends with a helpful list of other recommend parks.
These are beautiful books with an impressively usable layout. I suspect I’ll get to use them less than I’d like, but I think they’d be the perfect gift for someone approaching a break in work or school or retiring and looking to take some road trips around the US.
For some other perspectives, check out the other stops on the tour.