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Guidebooks show the way, even when your pal is a pooch

Email|Print| Text size + By Diane Daniel
Globe Correspondent / July 19, 2003

Recently published travel books cover New England routes by sea, by roadway, on foot, and by public transit. They tell you where you can go with your canine companion, where you can find sacred sites and peaceful places, and how you can hunt for offbeat relics of the past.

Many area groups, writers, and photographers contributed to the making of "Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area," edited by Kenneth Mallory, director of publications at the New England Aquarium (Down East, 63 pp., illustrated, $12.95). The book serves as both a lovely souvenir and an island guide, with maps and information on visiting some of Boston's most overlooked treasures. Fourteen of the more than 30 islands are highlighted, and there also are chapters on geology, wildlife, and birds.

If you're looking for a state of grace, a new series called "The Spiritual Traveler: A Guide to Sacred Sites and Peaceful Places" recently came out with its first Boston and New England guide. It was written by Jana Riess in association with Historic Boston Inc. (HiddenSpring/Paulist, 386 pp., illustrated, $22). Riess, religion book review editor for Publishers Weekly, went to Wellesley College and has lived in several New England towns. The entries, divided by region, feature houses of worship, cemeteries, gardens, spots of natural beauty, and homes of some of New England's literary figures, such as Emily Dickinson and Henry David Thoreau.

For dog devotees, there's "Dog-Friendly New England: A Traveler's Companion" by former Bostonian Trisha Blanchet (Countryman, 408 pp., illustrated, $18.95). Not only does this handy guide have the usual listings of motels, inns, and B&Bs that allow pets, but also it lists sidewalk cafes, dog parks and hiking trails, and doggie day cares, a viable option when you have your dog on a trip but need a sitter.

A sacred site for pooches is the Dog Chapel in St. Johnsbury, Vt., which you can read about in "Curious New England: The Unconventional Traveler's Guide to Eccentric Destinations" by Joseph A. Citro and Diane E. Foulds, a frequent contributor to the Globe travel section (University Press of New England, 334 pp., $19.95). As the preface reads, "This is not a standard travel book." Many sites are difficult to reach, and some, such as secret underwater ruins off Brenton Point, R.I., are nearly impossible to find. That's part of the fun of this offbeat book.

"The Traveler's Guide to the Most Scenic Roads in Massachusetts" marks the first time the Bay State has been included in this popular series (Down East Books, 176 pp., illustrated, $13.95). Author John Gibson, a writer and teacher from Hallowell, Maine, has listed 20 routes from the Cape to the Berkshires, and all points in between, that share beautiful scenery and relatively uncrowded roads.

Don't have wheels? Then "Car-Free in Boston: A Guide for Locals and Visitors" is the guidebook for you (Rubel Bike Maps, 186 pp., illustrated, $9.95). Though this is the 10th edition of this book by the Association for Public Transportation, it is the first since 1995. Especially useful for the traveler are the chapters on destinations throughout Eastern Massachusetts, and on New England and beyond. Of course you don't have to be carless to appreciate this guide. As the introduction says, "While traffic gets worse, transit gets better."

Then there's always foot traffic. "Nature Walks along the Seacoast: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine" by Julia Older and Steve Sherman is the latest addition to the popular "Nature Walks" series from the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC, 288 pp., illustrated, $15.95).

The 51 scenic strolls are set on 50 miles of seacoast from Ipswich to the Kennebunks. Along with providing detailed guided walks, the book describes flora, fauna, and geography of the region. Walks are rated for distance, time, and level of difficulty.

Another walking book just out this month is "Weekend Walks in Historic New England: 45 Self-Guided Walking Tours in Cities, Towns, and Villages" (Backcountry Guides, 336 pp., illustrated, $16.95). Written by Rhode Islander Robert J. Regalbuto, who runs a customized walking tour company called About Newport, the guide describes walks in historic areas of all New England states.

While it's not a travel book per se, "Bygone Boston: A Postcard Tour of Beantown" is a collection of the travelers' most used literary device -- the postcard. (By Earl Brechlin with John Bishop. Down East, illustrated, $12.95.) Some of the scenes are truly bygones, such as the Elephant House and Walk at Franklin Park and the Hospital Ship, while others, like South Station, and the entrance to the Public Garden, still stand.

Here are some other regional favorites that have new editions:

There's no excuse for hikers who carry a GPS but no map. Pack a copy of the 27th edition of the White Mountain Guide before you set off in the woods (AMC, $22.95).

While you are in the mood to hike, check out the sixth edition of "50 Hikes in Vermont" by the Green Mountain Club (Backcountry Guides, $17.95).

With patriotism in the news, you might want to pick up the sixth edition of Boston's Freedom Trail, a souvenir guide and reference to 26 legendary landmarks (Globe Pequot, $6.95).

"Boston Neighborhoods: A Food Lover's Walking, Eating, and Shopping Guide to Ethnic Enclaves in and Around Boston" by Lynda Morgenroth has been updated and expanded in this second edition (Globe Pequot, $15.95).

Recent new editions in the "Off the Beaten Path" series include Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The guides are suitable for locals and tourists (Globe Pequot, $13.95 for Massachusetts, and $12.95 for Rhode Island and Vermont).

"The AltMaine Guide: Your Alternative to the Usual Maine Tourist Guidebook" by Dick Balkite and Jim Carter has been greatly expanded in this second edition (AltMaine Publishing, $15.95).

The ever-popular "An Explorer's Guide" series just published the fifth edition for Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard & Nantucket, by Boston writer Kim Grant, and the 11th edition of Maine by K.W. Oxnard and frequent Globe contributor Christina Tree (Countryman, $19.95 each).

Although "thru hikers" get the attention on the Appalachian Trail, most of us will hike only parts of the 2,167-mile pathway that runs through 14 states from Georgia to Maine, including every New England state but Rhode Island. That means most of us will arrive at the trail by car. And that makes "A Guide to Car-Hiking the Appalachian Trail" by Jim and Nancy Duffus (iUniverse Inc., 228 pp., illustrated, $14.95) a guidebook everyone can use. The couple identified 74 vehicular access points along the way, and they include directions, maps, and photos to hike from those spots.

Diane Daniel can be reached by e-mail at ddaniel@globe.com.

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