WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO TO...?
Review by Barb & Ron Kroll
Four Seasons of Travel - 400 of the world's best destinations in winter, spring, summer and fall
(National Geographic) ISBN 978-1426211676 1426211678
How often have you wondered when is the best time to travel to a city or a country? This National Geographic coffee table book makes it easy to know the best season for wildlife-watching, festivals, gardens and wine harvests.
Illustrated with dazzling photos (some covering two pages) and a world map that pinpoints nearly 200 destinations, the 320-page book is organized by season. Sidebars provide websites and information on what to see, side trips, where to stay and what to eat.
What are the best places to visit in spring? Consider Holy Week in León, Nicaragua, to see colorful sawdust carpets and Semana Santa processions. The sidebar suggests Easter food specialties that you can try at León's Mercado Central, such as huevos chimbos, egg-shaped candies made from almonds and sugar and almibar (mango and chestnut sweets).
Alternatively, Four Seasons of Travel tells you that March is the best time to see the drying, fermentation and roasting of Nacional cacao beans in the Napo region of Ecuador. It is also the best time to view iridescent hummingbirds and brilliant butterflies.
Trip-planning tips provide websites for the Chocolate Jungle plantation, where you can roast your own cacao beans, as well as a website for a Kichwa homestay and volunteer vacation.
The National Geographic gift book also answers more questions about spring travel: When is the pronghorn migration in Idaho's Craters of the Moon Preserve? (March and April) When is the Girona Flower Festival in Spain? (May 7 to 15) When is the flow of Victoria Falls at its peak? (after the rainy season in April and May)
Where are the best places to go for summer holidays? The authors of Four Seasons of Travel suggest Alberta's Calgary Stampede and the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan, in July.
What other questions do they answer about summer travel? When is the best time to see the Perseid meteor shower in Stinky Cove, Maine? (early August) When do the wild Chincoteague ponies swim across Virginia's Assateague Channel? (the last Wednesday of July) When is the best time to see lavender in bloom in Provence? (late June)
Sidebars provide information to help you plan your trip, such as the location of Brooks Camp in Alaska's Katmai National Park, from where you can view bears. Other sidebars describe day trips, e.g., the all-inclusive overnight cruise from St. Petersburg along the Neva River to the Valaam Island monastery for a guided tour.
Autumn is a good time to travel because hotels and attractions are less crowded than in summer and prices are usually lower. National Geographic's four seasons book answers popular fall vacation questions.
They include: When is the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival in Hawaii's Big Island? (November) When is the annual buffalo roundup in South Dakota's Black Hills, Custer State Park? (late September) When is the best month to see polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba? (October) When is the best time to see the pandas in Chengdu's Sichuan Province? (panda feeding time at 9 a.m.)
Sidebars add supplemental details. One specifies where whale sharks gather in addition to Bahia de los Angeles in Baja, California. (Donsol, near Luzon Island, in The Philippines, Isla Holbox in the Yucatan, Mexico, and Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia)
Winter travelers search for sun and snow, as well as Christmas and New Year's events. This travel book offers suggestions for all of them, noting the best months.
When is the best time to see manatees in Florida's Blue Spring State Park? (January) Besides specifying that you can see blossoming almond trees in Mallorca between January and March, the book suggests that you visit Restaurante Es Verger, near Alaro, for roast lamb and local red wine.
Top 10 lists
A bonus for readers are nearly two dozen lists of the top ten things to do each season. In spring, for example, you'll find the top 10 outdoor flower markets, St. Patrick's Day celebrations, spring vineyards and magnificent gardens.
Summertime top 10 lists include places to view whales, dolphins and sunsets, top 10 music venues, summer theaters and Fourth of July celebrations and the top 10 places for ice cream. They range from local (maple bacon ice cream at Interlaken NY's Cayuga Lake Creamery) to international (mandarin lime sorbet from Dogal Dondurma in Bodrum, Turkey).
National Geographic's top 10 lists for autumn span the spectrum from places to see fall foliage and harvest festivals to Oktoberfests outside Bavaria, Germany. Winter top 10 lists encompass winter sports venues, where to see holiday lights and places to celebrate Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras and New Year's Day.
The book concludes with a summary of spring, summer, fall and winter events, linked to pages with the details. This photo-filled guide will undoubtedly motivate you to add more places to your travel bucket list.
Calendar of Events