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A New Favorite Guidebook Series

December 5, 2007

I’m the kind of person who reads travel guides when I am not traveling, and cookbooks when I have no intention of cooking anything.  That makes me pretty opinionated when I look for a book to guide me on a trip.  I used a Moon guidebook to plan my honeymoon, as well as to guide me on some trips to Canada.  Those were great, as they talked about much that was more local and not so touristy.  To be honest, I never really used the “classic” Frommer’s guides all that much.  They are a good basic references, but I didn’t always feel that they speak to me.  I used to pick Fodor’s guides over Frommer’s (that’s our little secret) when Moon didn’t have a book for my destination.  Sometimes I used Rough Guides, but only when I found them at the library, because they really weren’t my thing. 

I picked up a bunch of Las Vegas guides for my recent trip.  Some were ok.  Some were not.  But one was outstanding.  It was Pauline Frommer’s Las Vegas.  Full disclosure – I work for the company that publishes the Frommer’s guidebooks.  But even if I didn’t, I would still buy this book.  Note, I said BUY, not borrow from the library.  It’s that good.  I read her NY and Walt Disney World books.  Not because I needed the info, but more because they were good reads.  I knew that the Vegas would not let me down.

What makes it so good, or more accurately so good for me?  It talks about the big touristy things that everyone does, but it prioritizes what is worth seeing and what isn’t, and gives equal coverage to things that are bit more off the beaten path, things that not everyone is doing.  It has a voice, and a very opinionated and funny one at that.  At one point, she’s talking about a half price ticket service and how it split off from the other one in town, and are now competitors, and refers to them as the Jessica, to Tickets 2 Nite’s Nick.  I didn’t realize how much a voice in a tour guide works for me. 

Here are a couple of great things from the book that helped on my vacation:

1. We (all right, me) wanted to go to the Star Trek Experience.  Pauline’s guidebook told me that the half price ticket booth carried Experience tickets.   All the better to get Mr. IT on board with going!  As a side note, when we got to the front of the ticket line, and Mr. IT asked for the ST tickets, the woman behind the counter exclaimed, “Now how did I know that was what you were here for!”  Mr. IT, who is SO not a geek, put on his best Fuqua MBA glare and just handed over his credit card.  I don’t know that I have ever been so amused.

2. Lotus of Siam – one of the best meals of my life, period.  Pauline says it’s her favorite restaurant in Vegas.  I didn’t learn about it from her, rather from the posters on Chowhound.  But Pauline echoed their comments, and even mentioned in the “If you have one day, two days, three days, to spend in Vegas second” that if you have one day, eat at LoS.  Totally on the money, and I will spend many a day fantasizing about the food there.

There are other great calls in the book, but I’m going to save them for another post.  Or rather, if you are heading to Vegas, get yourself a copy.  Next year, my other favorite series is coming out with a Vegas book.  Can’t wait to check that one out. 

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