scion of taste, R.W. Apple Jr., explicates our continent's prominent cities in Apple's America: The Discriminating Traveler's Guide to 40 Great Cities in the United States and Canada. This upscale guide includes conversational essays on selected North American cities and shines with Apple's discerning style sense and observant reportage. Along with captivating histories of each city, he analyzes each town's political and economic climates and their impact on the social-cultural landscape. Apple unerringly finds each city's unique pulse, making personal suggestions on what to see and do, emphasizing the arts, architecture and food. His hotel and restaurant recommendations are not budget-conscious, but are lusciously descriptive of the sybaritic and culinary delights that lie in wait.

Alison Hood's car is tuned up and her guides, snacks, aromatherapy candles and sunscreen are packed.

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