New travel books for holiday gift giving

 

Your days are numbered, fretful holiday shoppers. If you’re “to buy” list remains annoying, consider these travel book titles.

“Moon Metro Chicago” edited by Grace Fujimoto (Avalon Travel Publishing, $16.95) – If you need help navigating the Windy City but don’t want to look like a dork, here’s help.

This is a practical guidebook that divides Chicago into nine segments and provides a discreet, laminated, fold-out map for each part. It’s a good way to make a big city more manageable and personal.

Each map pinpoints top restaurants, hotels, shops and attractions. Public train and el stops are shown, too. My middle-aged eyes can read the street names without using glasses (during daytime, anyway). Street segments that are daytime or nighttime hot spots are highlighted.

After the maps are descriptions of places at which you’re likely to eat, sleep or tour. There also is a street index, to help you find a specific business.

Internet sites would have been a nice addition to the listings, but who am I to complain? This California-based publisher gets rave reviews from the Sierra Club, Money magazine, The New York Times and many others.

For more about the publisher’s extensive list of titles, go to Moon’s website (moon dot com). Its informative “Wisconsin” handbook, which includes few maps but much insight, was written by Thomas Huhti, published in 2001 and is $19.95.
“Classic Wisconsin Weekends” by Michael Bie (Trails Books, $18.95) – The author has been the spokesman for AAA Wisconsin for years and is a native of Green Bay. He has produced a slightly irreverent but on-target insider’s guide to his beloved state.
Glance at the 23 roadtrips that he proposes, and there are logical choices: Lake Geneva. The North Woods. Horicon Marsh. Door County. Every part of the state is covered.
Then there are nice touches in the sub-categories. The titles include “Where’s the Fish Fry?” and “Locals Know.” Natives will be reminded of the much-loved while learning a bit of state history.
What’s the Holler House? It’s the oldest bowling alley in the nation and in Milwaukee. When did gangster John Dillinger earn the title of Public Enemy No. 1? After a shoot-out with feds at Little Bohemia, Manitowish Waters.
Trails Books, based in Black Earth (Dane County), is the book publishing segment of Trails Media, which also produces Wisconsin Trails magazine. Its other book titles this year include:
“Great Little Museums of the Midwest” ($18.95) by free-lance writer Christine des Garennes. More than 70 attractions are in this book, but don’t expect to see the Milwaukee Public Museum or the Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.
To make the cut here, it’s necessary to be truly odd. So you’ll learn where to find tributes to UFOs, Harry Houdini, farm toys, cookie jars and Dick Tracy.
It’s a fun read.
“Great Minnesota Taverns” ($18.95) by David and Monica Wright. It is a fine response to “Great Wisconsin Taverns,” written in 1999 by Dennis Boyer.
“The Great Indiana Touring Book: 20 Spectacular Auto Trips” by Thomas Huhti. It has a look and feel that is similar to the 30 itineraries that are in “The Great Wisconsin Touring Book” written by Gary Knowles in 2000.
For more about Trails Books, go to www.trailsbooks.com.
“60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Twin Cities” (Menasha Ridge Press, $15.95) is one of the newer “60 Hikes” guidebooks that has been published by this division of Globe Pequot.
The author is a Minneapolis native who lived in Kodiak, Alaska, for 15 years. Maps plot out each hiking option; one is the 16.2-mile Red River Trail that is south of Menomonie, Wis. It is the only state trail in the book, included “because of its remoteness and beauty.”
Although a map for this trek mistakenly labels Menomonie and its surrounding towns as being in Minnesota, we’re glad the city was spelled right. (We always have to look at a map; too many choices.)
Hiking routes are described by location, length, difficulty, scenery, configuration, facilities and hiking time. We learn that the nation’s oldest interstate park – called Interstate Park – is in Wisconsin (Polk County, south of St. Croix Falls). And that Hay Creek’s 1.6-mile west trail is one of the most demanding places to hike near the Twin Cities.
For more about Menasha Ridge Press, a Birmingham, Ala., company that has an outdoors and nature travel specialty, go to www.menasharidge.com.
Last, “Wisconsin Travel Companion: A Guide to History Along Wisconsin’s Highways” by Richard Olsenius and Judy Zerby (University of Minnesota Press, $19.95) is not a new book – but it went back into print last year because of a demand for it.
Originally written in 1983, the demand comes with good reason. Olsenius is a photojournalist and author who has worked for National Geographic and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Among his other credits: illustrating Garrison Keillor’s “In Search of Lake Wobegon.”
He and Zerby, a journalist and professional tour guide, meander Wisconsin to explore its history. This title will absorb the interest of armchair travelers as well as those who routinely gas up the tank.
Dozens of pictures from the Wisconsin Historical Society help put a very personal stamp on the stories, and our past.
For more about the publisher, go to www.upress.umn.edu.