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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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Amazon.com: 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 Amazon.com
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 Amazon.com
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.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Dumbed down new edition with fewer places to visit Dec 3 2009
By Travel Queen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I was excited to see a new edition, although hesitant since I thoroughly enjoyed the first edition and even used it to plan a few trips to Arizona and Texas. Yes, some of the places were unrealistic, and no, I don't plan any trips to China, but the stuff in the US was pretty good. With the new edition, they took out 44 sights and only added 39 new ones (yes, I actually counted). They did some funky splitting of previously mentioned sights to get to their magic "500" number. As an example, in the old edition, London got a single mention with various sights included in the text. This time around they split that section into FOUR different "must-sees". VT got totally shafted and with the exception of the Geffrye Museum in England, all of the places dropped were in the US.

So what did they add? Lots of Australia and New Zealand sights, plus Europe and Asia. I'm all for a less US-centric approach, but some of the stuff they added was stupid- it's more important to ride the Tokyo monorail than visit the Gateway Arch in St. Louis??? Or how about Luna Park in Australia versus the National Zoo?? (Although, to their credit, they did add the Giant Panda of Wolong in China if you want to see them).

I also completely hated the layout of seven great views, parks, etc. They dropped tons of information and extras. In the previous edition, they had a section on cities to visit with a selection of highlights in the city. In the new version, Paris got dumbed down to the Eiffel Tower "for a great view". I agree, but there's more to Paris than the Eiffel Tower. It was the same with the other cities. I'm sticking with my old version and using my new book for a paperweight.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Family Travel in the United States and Around the World Jan. 21 2010
By Bryan Carey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I like to travel and since I have two young kids, I try to keep vacation trips within the confines of what I think will interest them- at least for part of the trip, anyway. Given this desire, it make sense that I purchased and utilize Frommer's 500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up. This guide offers 500 different travel destinations for kids of all ages, including both domestic and international travel options.

This book is organized based on the type of attraction and as you browse through this guide, you will quickly realize that there isn't any particular order to the destinations and some will be further surprised by the selections themselves and the omissions. The entries are not listed from best to worst; alphabetically; by size; or anything else. They are random, based on type of attraction. Some of the more popular world wonders, like the Grand Canyon, Great Wall of China, Eiffel Tower, etc., are included, as they should be. But there are some popular places that are excluded, along with some unusual selections that will have some travelers puzzled, such as the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania or the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin. These are not exactly top tourist attractions and there are certainly many more popular natural attractions that could have replaced them. But the guide included them anyway, most likely to provide balance and diversity.

500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up is a reference guide, but the writing is a little different from the straight- forward, factual type of material you find in almanacs and other guides. The writing in this guide is friendlier, with most of it written in second person and, of course, written with children in mind (it also includes a recommended age, for each attraction). The book's authors mention children in most every entry and they point out specific areas of different attractions that children will enjoy most. The majority of places included in this guide will appeal to adults also, so even if you are childless, you will like the destinations included in this reference guide.

This guide isn't sorted geographically, but there is a geographic index along with many useful maps to help you locate a destination more quickly. By checking the United States map, for example, the avid family traveler can quickly find out which destinations are located in his/her local vicinity. This is very helpful, but there is one limitation of the map: It lists only the names of the cities that include a destination listed somewhere in the book. The map doesn't include the name of the actual attraction, so it only serves as a cross- reference to the adventures within.

Travel is my favorite activity and Frommer's 500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up is a fun, informative guide to family- friendly travel destinations around the United States and the world. It will take time to get through all five- hundred places with my kids, but we will certainly have a fun time trying as we seek out new family adventures and learning experiences, courtesy of Frommers.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Not bad for a travel wish list Oct. 12 2009
By Barbara Hudgins - Published on Amazon.com
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.