Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!
With summer fast approaching, it’s time to make plans for that great American tradition: the family road trip. Three new books will help you plan your itinerary for an unforgettable adventure.
What better place to spend a family vacation than one of our grand and glorious national parks? This year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park System, a centennial that’s being celebrated with several new books, including Lonely Planet’s National Parks of America. From Acadia to Zion, this beautifully illustrated volume includes a multipage section on each of the 59 national parks, with “toolbox” tips on the best time to go, where to stay and what to see and do. Stunning photographs—from molten lava in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to Giant Sequoia trees in Kings Canyon—offer readers a before-you-go glimpse of the scenic wonders they’ll encounter. This is an excellent introduction to our priceless park system and might be best used as a first step in deciding which parks grab the imaginations of the young travelers in your family.
PLACES THAT MATTER
If your goal is planning a trip that’s educational as well as fun, consider the destinations in 50 Great American Places by Brent D. Glass, director emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. This well-written and carefully curated guide to our country’s “Essential Historic Sites” includes fascinating historical details about tried-and-true stops such as Boston’s Freedom Trail and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. But Glass also ventures further afield with unexpected choices like Willa Cather’s childhood home near Red Cloud, Nebraska, where the author soaked up impressions of the prairie that would color her acclaimed novels. In the book’s foreword, historian David McCullough recalls how early visits to historic sites influenced his career choice (“the experience opened my mind and imagination to history as nothing yet had”) and later provided lasting memories for his own children.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Music may soothe the savage beast, but nothing silences a car full of restless kids (and weary adults) like something good to eat. Great American Eating Experiences aims to acquaint readers with “delicious fare originating from across the 50 states, in small towns and city neighborhoods where tradition, creativity, and inspiration have created foods found nowhere else.” Organized by region and state, this colorful and mouthwatering guide catalogs the best local delicacies in each area and where to find them, with entries on such specialties as whoopie pie in Maine and the Juicy Lucy burger in Minnesota. You’ll also find pointers to food festivals, soda fountains, diners and more.
This article was originally published in the May 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.