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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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 41 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Great General Guide For Travel Ideas Oct. 22 2009
By J. E. Nelson - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
When I had the opportunity to get a review copy of the newest edition of this book, I was quite ecstatic. I have 3 small children and would love to take them someplace else other than the typical Disney World, Sea World, Six Flags, Wisconsin Dells, and a myriad of other theme parks that dot the American landscape. I thought this book was the answer.

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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Good Companion for Trip Planners Nov. 19 2009
By Wayne A. Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Overall, this is not bad and could serve as a useful guide to those parents who, like me, are attempting to show the kids some of "what's out there" before they go to college and in between video games, sports, school and the other attractions that occupy the minds of our young.

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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Not Bad, but there are areas for improvement Oct. 3 2009
By CKE - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Almost everyone is familiar with Frommer's and their brand of travel books. The books are well known for their creativity and at times the great level of detail in describing the locations, places to eat, and spots to visit. "500 Places" is a great to gain ideas on locations to visit, but please do not expect a lot of details. Some of the places are pretty obvious.... such as the Grand Canyon but others are a spots you may not think of - such as the "Blue Lagoon" in Iceland.


- 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.

3 Stars
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Not bad for a travel wish list Oct. 12 2009
By Barbara Hudgins - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
A couple of years ago there was a book called "1000 places to see before you die". It was a big hit and sold over a million copies even though many of the places mentioned were much too expensive for the average traveler. Fancy hotels, exclusive spas--that sort of thing.

Now we have a slew of copycat books. Most, like this book, are much more practical. I mean, if you sat down and wrote a list of places you would certainly like to see in your lifetime, especially ones that you could drag your kids to, what would you come up with? The Grand Canyon? The Empire State building? The Tower of London? The best museums in the world like the Metropolitan in New York, the Louvre in Paris, and the Prado in Madrid? Of course you'd add some antiquities like the pyramids in Egypt and the Acropolis in Athens.

So this isn't so much a book about child-oriented places like Disney World as it is those must-see sites or must-do activities for both adults, teenagers and kids who are at least school-age.

Never fear, there is a chapter devoted to thrills and chills, where the top roller coasters and Ferris wheels are described. That lets the authors sneak in Six Flags Great Adventure (surely not one of the best theme parks in the USA) but one that features the highest coaster (Kingda Ka) in the world. I did discover that the original Legoland is in Denmark, but I'm sure most Americans will visit the one in California instead.

The book is divided by subject interest, so all the art museums are in one chapter, the science museums and in another. Under Historic Homes you'll the mansions of millionaires like Hearst's San Simeon, several presidential homes as well as Dracula's castle. Homes of famous writers are limited to those whose works kids would relate to--so there is Beatrix Potter's cottage as well as Mark Twain's homes (he gets two--boyhood home in Missouri, plus his Connecticut mansion). Anne Frank, the Bronte sisters and many more are included. There is a geographical index in the back, so you can find all destinations in Calfornia in the index. Maps with higlighted dots are also included.

Do kids really relate to such places? Well, I dragged my kids to all sorts of museums and historic houses and they were more compliant when they were young. Once they hit twelve years of age, many kids find educational and cultural places a drag. So for the adventurous there is a whole chapter on whitewater rafting, climbing Mount Fuji (a questionable trek for anyone who is not in top shape) canoeing and kayaking in any number of parks and so forth. A bit too steep for me, but in comparison with Lonely Planet's Travel with Kids, which had parents take kids across deserts and to war-torn territories, Frommer's book seems tame indeed. And quite America-centric.

This is a second edition of the book, and as with most second editions I wonder how much updating actually took place. For instance, they include the Edison National Historic Site in West Orange in the Budding Scientists chapter. A worthy inclusion, but these historic laboratories were closed for renovation for six years and only reopened in October, 2009.(I know, I wrote a review of it for an online newspaper where I am the New Jersey Day Trips Examiner.) This book came out in August 2009 (which means it was edited and printed several months before) so I wonder if the authors really checked up on all the previous write-ups. They have added several new ones also.

Are there places that might be disappointing? Traveling through England and Ireland to glimpse a few ruins would bore many people, not only kids. I consider Graceland pretty tacky, but the authors did balance that entry with a bunch of jazz, soul and rock `n roll shrines that one could visit in Memphis. And The Mall of America would never occur to me as a top place to visit, but it might to lots of other people.

Each entry is accompanied with a few suggestions for nearby motels or hotels in the area. As befits a Frommer's guide they are all in the modest fee category. The address, telephone number and website are included as well as the nearest airport. However prices and hours are not stated--although seasonal attractions are. Since many of the places mentioned may be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays or during certain times of the year, it is most important to check the website before you set out.

This book is meant as a sort of check list of places you might consider visiting. Obviously some are too far away to be practical but if you are traveling around the world with children of any age, it's good to be prepared to check out the most interesting sites. This book is not bad for what it is meant for--a compendium of must-sees during your lifetime that are suitable for the whole family. This is not a list of commercial theme parks that cater to kids in order to extract every possible dollar from their parents' wallets. You can find that in any number of other guides.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Interesting book, but has some weaknesses Oct. 24 2009
By Eric Hobart - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Let me start off by saying that it must be a very difficult chore to pick 500 destinations to take the kids, and I don't know that I could have done any better, but there are some problems that I see with this book.

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.