Frommer's 500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up Paperback – Aug 10 2009
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From the Back Cover
500 Great Reasons to Say,"Are We There Yet?"
This bestselling guide takes you across town and around the globe to 500 of the most exciting places on earth. With more than 40 new destinations, this revised edition is packed with things to see, do, and explore—from the Painted Desert (United States) and the cave homes of Coober Pedy (Australia) to a camel safari (India) and Dracula's Castle (Romania).
Complete with hotel information, age recommendations, Web sites, and more, this guide provides the advice you need to plan a trip the whole familycan enjoy—and remember for a lifetime.
Places to Go & Things to Do Around the World
The natural world: awesome vistas, flora, and fauna
Offbeat attractions: weird and wacky fun
History: from ancient wonders to modern marvels
Rides and thrills: bobsleds, dogsleds, andeverything in between
Art and architecture: galleries, buildings, andmonuments
Science: space centers, natural history museums,and more
Sports: halls of fame and sporting events
About the Author
Holly Hughes (New York, NY) is the former executive editor of Fodor's Travel Publications, the series editor of Frommer's Irreverent Guides, and author of Frommer's New York City with Kids.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
When I received the book and began flipping through it, the first thing that I noticed is that this book is definitely not geared to a particular audience other than people traveling with children. Having traveled the world for work early in my career, I had a pretty good idea what it costs to travel to Asia, Europe, and most of the Western Hemisphere. The first thing that I noticed is that the trips ranged from very cheap with easy access to the insanely expensive requiring extensive planning.
Flipping through the pages, I counted about 30 of the destinations that I have been to. I spent a good portion of my childhood living in one of them and over 10 years of my adult life living very close to a handful of others. What the author describes of the destinations seems relatively accurate. I spent my childhood in SE Alaska (Scouting Alaska's Inside Passage in the book). The author's description of utilizing the Alaska Marine Highway system (ferry boats) is excellent. However, no where did it seem to mention that many times the ferry terminals tend to be out on the middle of nowhere. The Juneau ferry terminal is a bit less than 15 miles from downtown Juneau and around 1 to 2 miles from the nearest bus station. Personally, I would not have found this to be a nice surprise if I was traveling with kids and no car. Throughout SE Alaska, the terminals are varying distances from the downtown areas. While a person could always call a cab, it seems that a cautionary note would be in order. It made me wonder if places I am not familiar with would have similar issues. Calling a cab in Alaska is a simple affair for an American, but the same person may not know a safe way to travel in Zimbabwe, Ecuador, or Peru.
When I read the book, while I found it interesting, it seemed to go incredibly slow. Each attraction is given a page or two that outlines what the attraction is, a short history of it, advice on hiring guides and transportation, and many times tips that will help maximize the experience and save time by directing you to the highlights of the attraction. The book is divided into 17 chapters of attractions, each chapter divided into sub chapters. The topics cover most interests that range from animals, nature, ancient civilizations, wars, holy places, science attractions, sports, and amusement parks to name a few.
The book can be a great asset for the rich and not so wealthy alike. There are tons of great ideas that can be tailored to any family. While I would not rely on the book as the sole source of information for a destination, it is a great starting point. If you are looking for a list of Disney knock-offs, this is not going to be the best book. If you are looking for destinations you may not have been aware of (some in your own backyard), then the book is definitely worth a look. Many destinations will be out of your reach financially. Other destinations made me question if the kids would really value the experience. However, flip through the suggestions and you will find something great for you and your family.
I liked the format on each of the 500 places. The summaries are about as thorough as they could possibly be on one page (small type warning). I found each entry gave enough of a flavor to allow you to explore those that are intriguing in further detail.
The only gripe, and it is minor, is that the places are organized around themes. So you have chapters on the likes or "water recreation" and "historic homes" and "battlefields". In each chapter you'll ricochet around the world from Verdun to Gettysburg to Fort Ticonderoga and back across the water to Ypres. Hardly helpful for a RV oriented trip. The alternative would have been a geographic organization, which might have been easier to meet the needs of most of us who travel. I get why they did a theme oriented organization and that works too, but at the cost of some convenience.
On the whole, this is a useful companion for world travelers who want to see natural and man-made wonders.
- Lots of ideas for trips
- Description of the destination and a recommended age range
- The name of the local airport and hotels
- The appropriate phone number for reservations or additional information
Areas for Improvement
- "500 Places" could really use more pictures... only about 1 in 5 destinations has a picture to accompany the write-up - and these pictures are in black-and-white
- Some of the paces are just fillers - Maybe Bostwana, Cambodia, and Sweden are possible for your travel budget... but there are many exotic locations
- Not much detail - every location has about a 300-500 word write-up. if you choose to go to any of these places you will need additional resources
Final verdict - I would have preferred a more detailed book that listed 100 places to take your kids.
First and foremost, there is an age recommendation for each activity, which is nice, but in most circumstances, there is no justification for the recommended age. For example, on page 362, Graceland is recommended for visitors age 6 and up. But shy of saying "Now the kids know who Elvis is", we don't know why a 6 year old is ready to experience Graceland. Truthfully, I'm not sure that my 8 or 9 year old kids are ready for Graceland.
Second of all, I question the selection of the items - how is it that Disneyland is in the book, yet Walt Disney World in Florida isn't? Why is it that Hiroshima & the A-bomb palace is in here, but Mt. St. Helens in Washington state isn't?
I think this book is a great starting point, but it probably isn't the end-all-be-all. I certainly will use the book when considering family vacations, but I will supplement it with other research and books before actually booking my trip.
To begin, as stated in my title, there were only 189 domestic vacation locations listed in the guide. Some states - Delaware, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Vermont, and West Virginia were entirely overlooked. I grew up next to Vermont. I know for a fact that there are maple festivals and Ben & Jerry's tours....things that kids would love. Some states only had one kid fun thing - Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. The only states to rate double digits were California (27), New York (19), and Massachusetts (17). Contrast that to the United Kingdom - 54 listings.
If you're looking for color photography to whet the appetite - enjoy the outside cover. And good luck finding a map of Alaska; it is not even listed on the insert map of the United States.
I found some of the editorializing on the various locations a bit annoying. Plymouth Rock, for instance, is a rock in Plymouth that a historian claimed the Pilgrims landed on over 100 years after the event. It is highly unlikely that they landed on that particular rock.
All in all, this book is geared more for the international traveler - especially if you have plans for Australia, Ireland, France, Canada, Italy, Scotland, England, Spain, Japan, and Germany - all of which had at least 10 locations. If you are on a budget like most families you may want to borrow this from the library or a friend.