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I bought this guidebook last year as we were planning to do a USA road trip. The map on the front had two routes marked out - (1) San Francisco down to Los Angeles along the Pacific Highway and then across to the Grand Canyon or (2) due east from San Francisco to Yosemite and then through Death Valley to Las Vegas and then on to the Grand Canyon. This second route quite closely matched the second half of our trip. The first was going to be spent going west of the Grand Canyon into Utah but I didn't expect to get a book that would cover the full extent of our trip and for the California part at least, this looked like a pretty good match. It had only just been published and so promised to have all the latest info.
The book is divided into 7 main sections
* San Francisco
* Las Vegas
* The Grand Canyon
* Los Angeles and Disneyland
* The Pacific Coast Highway
* Essentials - tips for travellers, internet resources etc.
Each geographical section has useful maps, sets out the main sights and events and as you might expect offers suggestions for the best accommodation and eating places. It also covers travel and shopping options. It's pretty easy to find your way around the book and there's a full index at the back. What I found most useful was the highlights page in each section - so in the San Francisco chapter there are 9 highlights - unsurprisingly these include cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz but also less likely places to see such as City Lights Books associated with the 1950s Beat movement. It also has suggested itineraries for places depending on your length of stay. So if you have just one day at the Grand Canyon or Yosemite, it sets out how to get the most of your time there. For San Francisco and Los Angeles it gives you a three day plan
However, for me the book was only partially successful. Although the opening pages do suggest a 14 day route, the book doesn't describe a road trip at all. Don't get me wrong, it does give very useful information on the particular areas listed above but it misses out the bits in between! For example it has lots about Las Vegas, lots about Yosemite but nothing at all about Death Valley (despite the cover map) which was one of the most interesting and exciting parts of our route between the two. The section on the Napa Valley is disappointing too. The back cover says that it includes days trips to wine country but actually it's less than two pages which give a few suggestions and list various tour operators.
That said, I would still recommend it. What it does cover, it does so well. It's a good size for travelling. Its 5.5" by 7.5" and since it's a paperback it's not too heavy. I certainly referred to it a lot both in planning and on the trip itself. It probably won't cover everywhere you want to go though so you may need a couple of other guides to fill in the gaps.
Recommended price $19.99.
Available on amazon for £13.99 although it seems to be permanently on offer at £9.65.
Published by Avalon Travel