The Lowdown On NYC Guidebooks

Monday, October 13, 2008

Last night, as I was looking out my plane window at the New York skyline on my flight back from Colorado, I started to think about how much I miss NYC every time I leave the city, even if I’m not gone for that long (this trip away was a mere 72 hours). It’s espcially hard to be gone during the fall, arguably the best season in New York, when the leaves have begun to change, the air’s cool (but not cold), and you can feel a kind of excitement in the air (or maybe that’s fear of a financial meltdown that I’m feeling).

Nevertheless, it’s little wonder that a whopping 46 million people visited the city last year alone. To aid some of those millions (most of whom seem to visit during that short corridor of time between the American Thanksgiving and Christmas) here’s a little wrap-up of the major NYC guidbooks with a little synopsis and summary of what to expect in each one.

For those not willing to blow their entire year’s travel budget in one weekend, avoid the Wallpaper as well as the Hg2 guidebook (hint — you really don’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy NYC). Lonely Planet gets an okay review for its depth, but is assailed for its dinky maps and cheap layout, which I completely agree with and wish they’d improve in all of their guides. Frommer’s and Fodor’s do a good job of listing the city’s many restaurants by neighborhood — my criticism being that by the time these books go to print, given NYC’s insane rate of turnover, many of those places are probably no longer there or are yesterday’s news. My suggestion, which is pretty universal for anywhere you go, would be to make friends with the natives and get their opinion and recomendations for the latest and greatest places to go, and for the last time, please keep the guidebook in your fanny pack while walking down the street.

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