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Top Independent Travel Guides


Travel guidebooks tend to come in series, like Fodor's, Frommer's and Lonely Planet. But for a few destinations, the best guidebooks aren't parts of series, which makes them harder to know about and find. Here are my 10 favorite independent guides, available in local travel bookstores or from the publishers.

The American Institute of Architects Guide to New York City, 1988, $24, paper, by Elliot Willensky and Norval White, Harvest Books/Harcourt Brace, 525 B St., San Diego, CA 92101; telephone (800) 543-1918. For in-depth information on the city's history and culture, and marvelous walking tours. Sadly, this book just went out of print, but you may still be able to find it in bookstores.

Caribbean Ports of Call Southeastern, 1998, $14.95, paper, Caribbean Port of Call Northeastern, 1998, $14.95, paper, and Western Caribbean Ports of Call, 1997, $12.95, paper, by Kay Showker, Globe Pequot Press, P.O. Box 833, Old Saybrook, CT 06475, tel. (800) 243-0495, Internet http:// The bible on the Caribbean, not just for cruise ship passengers.

The Colorado Guide, 1997, $19.95, paper, by Bruce Caughey and Dean Winstanley, Fulcrum Publishing, 350 Indiana St., Suite 350, Golden, CO 80401, tel. (800) 992-2908. History, tourist attractions, hotels and restaurants of the Centennial State, written by insiders.

Discovering Spain, 1996, $25, paper, by Penelope Casas, Random House, 400 Hahn Road, Westminster, MD 21157, tel. (800) 726-0600. The best-selling guide to Spain, by an aficionado.

Journey to the High Southwest: A Traveler's Guide to Santa Fe and the Four Corners of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, 1997, $19.95, paper, by Robert L. Casey, Globe Pequot Press, P.O. Box 833, Old Saybrook, CT 06475, tel. (800) 243-0495, Internet Tells the full story of the Old Southwest, with an emphasis on Native American cultures.

Louise Nicholson's India Companion, 1998, $19.95, paper, by Louise Nicholson, Headline Book Publishing, distributed by Trafalgar Square, P.O. Box 257, North Pomfret, VT 05053, tel. (800) 423-4525, Internet No one knows India better, especially when it comes to luxury travel.

The Milepost Trip Planner for Alaska & Western Canada, 1999, $23.95, paper, by the publishers of Alaska Magazine, Morris Communications Corp., 619 E. Ship Creek Ave., Suite 329, Anchorage, AK 99501, tel. (800) 726-4707, Internet Covers every mile of highway in Alaska and western Canada, with sights, accommodations, restaurants and information on outdoor activities.

The People's Guide to Mexico, 1998, $22.95, paper, by Carl Franz, John Muir Publications, P.O. Box 613, Santa Fe, NM 87504, tel. (800) 888-7504. A general introduction to travel in Mexico for those who want to get beyond the tourist zones.

Ranch Vacations, 1999, $22.95, paper, by Gene Kilgore, John Muir Publications, P.O. Box 613, Santa Fe, NM 87504, tel. (800) 888-7504. Kilgore wrote the book on dude ranch vacations, which can also serve as a resource for cross-country skiers.

Snorkel Bob's Reality (& get down) Guide to Hawaii, 1997, $15, paperback, by Snorkel Bob (a.k.a. Robert Wintner), Hara Publishing, P.O. Box 19732, Seattle, WA 98109, tel. (425) 775-7868, e-mail The Hawaiian Islands are Snorkel Bob's oyster, from great diving to dining to drinking spots.

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