2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
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.