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The 100 Best Affordable Vacations Paperback – April 19, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jane Wooldridge is an award-winning travel and business journalist, entrepreneurial manager, and an innovator in multimedia content delivered via newspapers, magazines, online, and broadcast. She was named the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year, 2006-07, the highest honor in travel journalism, based on a portfolio of work.

Larry Bleiberg is the award-winning former travel editor of Coastal Living magazine and The Dallas Morning News, which was honored by the Lowell Thomas Foundation for having the best newspaper travel section in North America. He has been published around the world, and traveled to all 50 states and dozens of countries.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

100 Best Affordable Vacations
From North Carolina to Texas
No food seems more quintessentially American than barbecue. To fully immerse yourself in barbecue, sample the fare and flavors on offer at a few favorite towns and fests where grilled beast—be it smoked, rubbed, pulled, slathered in sauce, or massaged with spice—is the main draw. If you’re truly a ‘cue fan, string the recommendations into a road trip. But beware: After five barbecue feasts in as many days, you may be in need of a giant salad.
Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri. If there is a center of the American barbecue universe, it may well be Kansas City, straddling the Kansas-Missouri state line. As a staging center for western exploration, Kansas City was home to early meatpacking operations and stockyards; barbecue naturally followed. But it wasn’t until the 1920s that fellow named Henry Perry opened the first barbecue pit. Among the best loved of the city’s more than one hundred barbecue joints are Gates (800-662-7427,, where you’ll be greeted with a shouted “Hi, may I help you?”; Fiorella’s Jack Stack (816-531-7427, www, for white tablecloth service; and the dignitary must-stop Arthur Bryant’s (816-231-1123,; all have several locations around town.
Lexington, North Carolina. Lexington stakes its claim as “barbecue capital of the world” thanks to the 1919 establishment of the town’s first pit-cooked barbecue tent. The furniture-manufacturing operations that were once the centerpiece of Lexington’s economy have waned, but the town of 20,000 remains beloved for its coziness and two dozen barbecue restaurants, famed for pork—sliced, chopped, or pulled—served with coleslaw and hush puppies (beef and chicken dishes are also offered at some). Most are open any day you land there, though some are closed on Sunday. One of the largest and best known is Lexington Barbecue No. 1 (10 Hwy. 29/70 S, 336-249-9814).
Lockhart, Texas. Located some 25 miles south of Austin, this tiny town of 14,000 on the historic Chisholm Trail boasts less than a handful of barbecue restaurants, but collectively they serve up 5,000 meals per week. Barbecued pork sausage is the specialty here, though you’ll find chops and brisket as well. All the barbecue joints win raves, but if you must choose only one, make it Kreuz (pronounced krites) Market (619 N. Colorado St., 512-398-2361), where smoky brisket, peppered pork ribs, and jalapeño-cheese sausage win raves. Don’t ask for
sauce—they don’t have it; but the sauerkraut is divine.
Memphis, Tennessee. Debating where to find the best barbecue here is something of a city sport. With more than a hundred ‘cue joints, there’s plenty to choose from. Often mentioned are Rendezvous (52 S. 2nd St., 901-523-2746), famed for its ribs since 1948; Central BBQ (2249 Central Ave., 901-272-9377), known for its slow-smoked ribs, pulled meat, and hot wings; Corky’s (5259 Poplar Ave., 901- 685-9744), seasoned with a dry rub, slathered in sauce, and slow cooked; and Neely’s (670 Jefferson Ave., 901-521-9798), made famous by the Food Network’s show Down Home with the Neelys. Also recommended? The funky Blues City Café (138 Beale St., 901-526-3637), where the ribs are flavored with a wet rub and slow cooked at 225°F, then drenched in a sweet barbecue sauce. They’re worth every last calorie.
St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis is known for its barbecued spare ribs and reportedly leads the world in per capita consumption of barbecue sauce. The sauce is sweet; the ribs are trimmed to remove the fatty portion off the rack. But as far as the locals are concerned, you haven’t tried St. Louis-style barbecue until you try the barbecued pork steaks, says Donna Andrews, spokesperson for the city’s visitors bureau. Among the city’s famed ‘cue joints are Pappy’s Smoke House (3106 Olive St., 314-535- 4340), known for its dry-rubbed, slow-smoked pork ribs; Roper’s Ribs (6929 W. Florissant Ave., 314-381-6200), seasoned with a secret blend of spices and smoked over hickory; and Smoki O’s (1545 N. Broadway, 314-621-8180), where the menu includes rib tips, crispy snoot (that would be pig and nostrils), and barbecue spaghetti.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic (April 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426207182
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426207181
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #874,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sam Archer VINE VOICE on May 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is best used as a place to get ideas for possible vacations all over the United States but cannot be used as a stand alone book because it lacks maps, pictures and addresses.

The table of contents is basically useless and is broken up into 4 chapters called "1. americana, 2. into the wild, 3. quest for knowledge, 4. body & soul."

If you want to find a place to go in your neighborhood you need to go to the index and try and find your state and then look up places that way. Each chapter jumps all over the country so it's really hard to use this to do a local "staycation" without having to painstakingly read through every chapter.

What makes this book more frustrating is that you can find much better information on the internet than you can get in this book.
For example, idea number 10 in the book is called "follow the mission trail" in which the author recommends visiting missions in California.
The book then lists the missions and briefly talks about 3 that you could visit. Finally, the chapter ends with a website address to get information on the missions.


1. Poorly organized table of contents. Should be organized by location/region and listed in the front of the book.

2. No pictures or maps. I expect more from National Geographic.

3. It's a book of ideas with very basic information. You will need to get maps yourself and get a separate travel guide for focused information on the region you finally decide to go to.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Henrietta VINE VOICE on June 17, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book reads like a friendly history text. Americana in every way imaginable. It inspires you to think outside the box in planning your getaways, your family fun. It celebrates the beauty in the popular culture.

Each section (of 100) covers a theme, which includes background which is interesting,even educational. Just reading about the various places in the book brings up memories of special places in my own past. It's definitely a book you can just pick up and read a few pages and feel fed. A bathroom book?

Instead of heading out to Disney or the closest theme park in your area, check out this book and think outside the box. Find some charm in your communities without spending a fortune.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By mlaunius on December 1, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was excited about receiving this book, but I should have looked at it in a bookstore first. Some of the vacations are affordable and interesting, but I probably could have found most of what is listed in the book on the internet for free. It gives some good ideas for what to do while on vacation, but not very many of them are extremely affordable or original. I don't think this is a book I will keep for that long.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jason Kirkfield VINE VOICE on May 25, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A couple of significant usability problems start this off on the wrong foot and keep it there.

The publisher/typesetter failed to use non-breaking characters for the URLs. As as result, many Web sites are broken onto two lines, as you might hyphenate a word. Examples include "[...]" at the end of one line and "" at the start of the next. Or "[...]" at the end of one line and "" at the start of the next. In the publishing world, such wrapping is unacceptable and avoidable. These instances occur on virtually every page of this book; they are distracting to read and annoying to transcribe.

Also, short of one sentence in the Introduction, there is no explanation of the organization for the 100 entries, and there is no listing AT ALL of the entries. (The Index is alphabetical and interspersed with other information.) In other words, you cannot see a listing of, say, the twenty-eight entries in the "americana" chapter without flipping through everything. A proper Table of Contents would have easily solved this.

Alright, those are objective grievances. I have some subjective feedback as well. Any compilation of "The Best" will necessarily find some readers who agree and some who do not. Entire categories of possibilities are left out here. In other cases, some useful suggestions are included, but other obvious ones are not. An example of the latter: the "take a road trip" entry in the first chapter includes the Pacific Coast Highway and the Pony Express Trail but not Route 66.

Having said all that, I did learn about some interesting spots, such as the (formerly hidden) Missile sites in the Black Hills and the Everglades, or that there even was such a thing as the Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo (!).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Erika Borsos VINE VOICE on April 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The authors describe and summarize a wide variety of affordable vacation options from all across the USA and also include a few from Mexico, the Virgin Islands and Central America (Belize). The book provides the reader a taste of what is available within one's budget as the word "affordable" is based on one's personal finances which can vary considerably! The book is divided up into four sections based on a spectrum of topics: Americana, Into the Wild, Quest for Knowledge, and Body and Soul. First, there is an optimisitic and positive description of each individual vacation option. Next, there are detailed bulletins of information about activities available. Also a highlighted box is often included which gives further details about events, costs and webpage links.

For instance, I would definitely be interested in visiting a vineyard and read the section "Sip your Way through Wine Country" with great interest. There I learned that winemakers clustered around Placerville, California in Eldorado County offer everything the famous regions such as Napa Valley and Sonoma County offer but in a more relaxed and affordable manner. Several wineries are mentioned, one which stood out is the Miraflores Winery which is one of four area vineyards that makes wine from grape varieties associated with the Rhone Valley in France. Another fascinating locale is the Missouri River region where the Stone Hill Winery, in Hermann, Missouri is located. It has won numerous prestigous awards including some wine which I would love to taste made from a local varietal called the Norton grape.

Under the heading, "Americana" one can read about a vacation to Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts to learn more about the American Revolution. Desert Architecture in the Grand Canyon is another vacation choice.
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