1,000 Places to See in the U.S.A. & Canada Before You Die Paperback – Jun 7 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Of the plethora of adjectives suitable for the tone of this witty reference book, the most relevant is proud; from the outset, Schultz declares her own personal connection to the places visited, titling the introduction, "Rediscovering My Own Backyard." Divided by region-starting off in New England, the Mid-Atlantic states, the Southeast and the rest of the U.S., then continues into eastern and western Canada-Schultz's follow-up to the bestselling 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (a global survey) presents grandiose portraits of the two countries' most popular and patriotic spots. Schultz includes plenty of directions for travel, food and lodging, including costs, though this is no budget guide (see the $75 dinner under the Brooklyn Bridge). Still, what Schultz lacks in cost-efficiency she makes up for in scope; quite literally, there's something here for everyone: baseball fields, national parks and campgrounds, major malls, expansive historical estates and more. A fine gift, it should also spark spirited party conversation-who's been where, what to visit next, and which personal favorites didn't make the cut.
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If the coverage allotted Canada in this 1000+ page volume were your guide, you might be forgiven if you felt that Canada occupied less than 10% of North America - rather than actually being the larger of the two nations.
The section dedicated to highlighting the beauty and splendor of Canada is smaller than the book's indexes! (100 pages on Canada, 104 pages of indexes in the paperback edition)
Any researching appears to be minimal at best, and apparently dredged from a handful of tourism-department websites. Including "Canada" in the title could only be described as misrepresentation - or maybe just a money grab in an attempt to sell more books for those interested in this great country north of the 49th parallel. Does this really represent the limited view of our neighbours to the south? Where is Rick Mercer when we need him?
I have yet to visit all the lovely places here. I'm actually up to about 15, which means I have 985 to go. But even if I don't make it to every single one, it's still a fascinating read.
It's one of my three favorite summer reading books, along with Martha Bolton's "Maybe Life's Just Not That Into You" a hysterial parody of self helo books, and "Dave Barry's Guide To Money."
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Another minor quibble: some of the "places" are actually events, like Burning Man and the Indianapolis 500. I'll overlook it...
She also likes to go in style, and apparently hasn't met a spa she didn't like. Subtract all the ultra-ritzy exclusive hotel/spas, sculpture gardens, resorts, dude ranches and expensive art galleries, which are likely either of out reach financially or simply not of interest to a large base of the potential audience, and you're down to 500 Places to See.
So, then, if you can get it for half price, you've got a bargain.
Now, onto the good things. There are many, despite my protestations above. First is the very idea of the book. It's fun and interesting to see such a list compiled; invariably something important gets left out, but what is created by the greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts compilation is a true sense of America as a destination in its own right, worth of as much attention as any other in the world.
Also, I was made aware of many places I wouldn't have found otherwise, like the Yoder Popcorn Shoppe in Topeka, Indiana. There are many hidden treasures in these pages.
Finally, despite being top-heavy with attractions for the chic looky-loo set as mentioned above, the book is saved from being completely out of touch by its inclusion of attractions that appeal to a broad section of people (as would befit a book about America). Burning Man Festival is here, as is the State Fair of Texas, the Civil Rights Trail, and others.
My strong recommendation is that a second book be created called "1000 Places to Dine Before You Die," (though the publisher may not want to have the words "dine" and "die" so close together), and all the restaurant entries removed from this and placed there. Then the gap filled with what got left out of this book and should have been in in the first place.
I have traveled a lot in the US and am working on seeing the rest of the world, but wanted to know what I was missing here in the US. I anxiously flipped through the book and made a note next to each place I had visited.
I was amazed and impressed to find locations just a few miles from my home that I had never seen. I'll be visiting soon.
I am sure I will think of a couple of places that (I think) should have been included. Overall, though, this book is very comprehensive. It is fun and easy to read.
Nice touches inside include web links, phone numbers, etc. for each of the places. I also like the way the book is indexed in the back: active travel and adventure, culinary experiences, glorious nature, great golf, scenic drives, take the kids, etc. This makes it easy to search for a particular type of site, even if you don't know exactly what part of the country you want to see.
". . .travel has always been based on removing myself from what is comfortable and safe, on seeking out experiences that broaden my horizons and enrich me in ways superficial and profound."
The author also notes that she (page xiii) ". . .discovered time and again the country that is my home."
I'm from Illinois originally, so I immediately looked at the sites in the Prairie State. Many of these make a great deal of sense. Of course, one can always ask questions like: If Nauvoo, why not Bishop Hill? Still, good selections from my home state.
I lived in New York for quite awhile. I love the inclusion of the Anchor Bar (home of "Buffalo chicken wings"). I enjoyed the weekend jazz music and the wings. This is where Buffalo chicken wings began. The inevitable question: Why not the Genesee River Gorge? Once more, no criticism of the author's choices--just that there are a lot of possibilities that don't show up in the book.
Now, I live in Pennsylvania. And while I can understand the places included in this book, I also wonder why the exquisite Capitol Building of the Commonwealth in Harrisburg is not listed.
However, that is part of the charm of such books. Engaging in a dialogue with the authors' choices.
All in all, a very nice work and a good read.