How can you get away without the fuss and expense of flying? Road trip! These travel guides showcase America’s natural, historical and cultural wonders, so gas up the car and hit the road.

Spontaneous jaunts can be memorable, but why not invest some planning in your trip? And if you like a little history and learning with your getaway, the Complete National Parks of the United States, is a great starting point for exploring America’s gorgeous parklands. At a hefty 528 pages, you probably won’t want to tote this guide around. But it’s an impressive resource that reveals the diversity of America’s National Park system, from military sites, national monuments and memorials to trails, preserves and recreation areas. There are more than 400 parks under the U.S. National Park Service, and this guide shows them off with lush color photos, beautifully rendered maps and succinct, informative text on the history, features and offerings of each park. Each entry gives park contact information, plus location, size, accessibility and recreation tips. And for avid hikers, there’s a map of the National Trails system. This elegant, eloquent guide opens the door to our nation’s wealth of wild, urban and rural treasures.

Longing to “leaf peep” and munch on lobster? Then get thee to New England, and take along Top Ten New England. This slim powerhouse guide takes you to the “best of the best” in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont. A reasonably priced, jam-packed jewel of a guide to America’s birthplace, this book has the allure of a “top ten” list, with top attractions, the top features of those attractions and a wealth of other lists that detail the high notes of history, natural wonders, art and culture, sports and recreation, food, dining, lodging and practical planning tips. With small, well-framed color photographs, detailed maps, thorough cross-referencing, eye-catching and accessible layout and lucid, witty prose, Top Ten New England will help you make your sure-footed way through Beantown and beyond.

Though to many, Southern California means beaches, blondes, surfers and movie stars, the region, which stretches from California’s central coast across to Yosemite and down to San Diego, offers landscapes, sights and cultural treasures far beyond the usual stereotypes. Fodor’s 2010 Southern California is a superior, relatively portable guide to this area that offers comprehensive coverage in an easy-to-use format. The photos (now in full color) are tempting, the maps are easily readable and the narrative is smart and hip. Fodor’s is known for thorough, accurate travel information, and this guide follows suit. Especially wonderful is the section on California’s venerable missions. For a true California experience, grab this guide, put on your flip-flops and go!

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