—"Sports Traveler Chicago" Lake Claremont Press, $15.95
Among the most neglected travelers are sports enthusiasts, the devout fans who either follow their teams from city to city or just make the rounds locally to root for the home teams. In "Sports Traveler Chicago," Anbritt Stengele and Lydia Rypcinski point out that the Chicago area is home to 20 pro sports teams playing in 15 venues.
Almost everyone knows the high-profile sports teams, of course — the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox — but not everyone is aware of the other teams such as the Chicago Wolves (American Hockey League), the Chicago Sky (Women's NBA), the Kane County Cougars and Schaumburg Flyers (minor league baseball). The authors describe each sporting venue at length, nearby accommodations, parking recommendations and, when available, stadium tours and special fan nights and programs.
Also included are tips on where and what to eat while inside the venue and even pregame traditions such as tailgating parties at one of the outdoor parking lots on game day.
—"Grandparents Illinois Style" Adventure Publications, $14.95
As travel writers and grandparents, Mike Link and Kate Crowley have arrived at some rather startling conclusions: Open space that was once plentiful is now set aside for development; sports are hardly ever just for fun; the opportunity to be bored and the subsequent chance to be creative occur less often today as children's free time is regimented with organized activities. And yet they insist — and, in this guide, prove — that grandparents and grandchildren can still bond over various activities. They describe places to go (museums, zoos, nature preserves, state parks, historic sites) and things to do (biking, canoeing, kite flying, fishing, gardening and even cooking together) throughout the state that can appeal to young and old. It's a sensitive and thoughtful guide.
—"National Geographic Traveler New York" National Geographic, $22.95
Authoritative prose, wonderful photographs and a smart, clean look highlight this New York City guide. The authors divide the city into nine manageable chunks and offer suggestions on what to see and do in each neighborhood, including numerous walks. They suggest, for example, hitting the pavement on weekends, when the crowds are sparser, along Broadway from Battery Park through the financial district to City Hall.
Other less-visited sites, such as the South Street Seaport Museum and Marketplace along the East River, get special treatment. The guide concludes with excursions to the Hudson River Valley and tours of Long Island wine country.
—"Clean Breaks: 500 New Ways to See the World" Rough Guides, $29.99
What exactly is a Clean Break?
Authors Richard Hammond and Jeremy Smith define it as minimizing your environmental impact — on your journey and at your destination. But they also insist that it means making a positive impact by, for example, contributing to the conservation of wildlife and local heritage or supporting the local economy. Following the Rough Guide credo, the authors try their best to seek out less-touristy spots, placing special emphasis on local markets and local festivals, as well as tours that use native guides. Among the 500 suggestions are spending a weekend "Under the Thatch" in Wales, where visitors can stay in traditional thatched cottages (thatching in Britain is rapidly becoming a lost art); walking with a donkey in France; lunching with shepherds in Sardinia; visiting the eco lodges of Costa Rica; learning to dance in Rio de Janeiro; living with the nomads of Mongolia; or building a treehouse in Japan.
—"Paris Underground: The Maps, Stations, and Designs of the Metro" Penguin, $25
This meticulously designed book is laid out to parallel the iconography of the Paris Metro, explaining the evolution of the system's style while covering other aspects such as logos, typefaces and signage. It's not for everyone — some may be overwhelmed by its depth of detail — but it is definitely a must for subway junkies and students of design. Gorgeous photographs, posters, illustrations and detailed maps make this a delight for the eyes.