Off The Beaten Path, by Reader's Digest (Hardcover, 2009)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
Beautiful, fascinating, informative. Visually stunning, intellectually stimulating. A true pleasure to peruse. Loaded with nuggets of information. Practical, yet destined to be a collector's item and tabletop treasure. Can I gush any more than that about this excellent work from Reader's Digest?
Off the Beaten Path provides thumbnail descriptions of more than 1,000 interesting sites and destinations in the USA. All of these are places tourists don't normally flock to, but that are worth seeing. These include museums, historic inns, castles, rock formations, dinosaur trails, pontoon boating, parks, lakes, wildlife sanctuaries, and zoos. The book contains over 1,000 photographs of these sites.
The book consists of 50 chapters, each devoted to one state. The tourist bureau in each state has verified that each site listed is, indeed, still not (yet) heavily visited. In each chapter is at least one "Did you know?" box that has an interesting fact. The end of each chapter also has a calendar of events (seasonal activities, such as Strawberry Day in Tennessee) for the state. Each chapter also has a detailed state road map, with the sites marked out. As you read about each site, you can refer back to the map to see where it is.
For a given destination, you will find:
* Title of site.
* Street address (or nearest highway and city).
* Well-written description that explains what the site has to offer.
* Notes on availability, access, tours, and the like (including if an admission fee applies)
* Hyperlink to Website.
* Phone number of the relevant agency, foundation, operator, or owner.
* Icons that show which of 16 different types of amenities are available. Three new ones (since previous edition): pet- friendly, handicap-accessible, and wi-fi compatible.
For those who don't like to travel, this book allows the reader to make a virtual visit to the many wonders and interesting sites across the USA or in your own state. If you haven't taken an interesting trip lately, this book may be just the thing to help you plan one that you'll thoroughly enjoy.
This book has been thoroughly copy-edited and painstakingly fact-checked. The editorial standards evident here are the highest I've seen. All of the other technical details are also high-caliber: layout, binding, artwork, and so forth. The careful attention to detail really shows. In addition, the book is nicely indexed. From looking in the acknowledgements and photo credits, I was struck by the sheer number of contributors to this work. Having worked on the editorial side of the desk, I'm impressed at how well all that input was handled.
It's beautifully bound in hardback, with artwork on the actual hardback covers. The paper is very heavy stock, giving it a luxurious feel. The book jacket has the same artwork as the book itself.
Use Off the Beaten Path as a vacation reference, day trip planner, coffee table decoration, or family heirloom. Buy it as a gift for young people just starting out and you can't go wrong, but it makes an excellent gift for just about anyone. If you do buy it as a gift, you will want your own copy once you see it. If you don't add this to your collection, you are really missing out. I'd give it three thumbs up, but I have only two thumbs.