LIFE’s Dream Destinations (and how you can win the book)

Dream Destinations, a LIFE book (photo of book cover by Sheila Scarborough)Sometimes you need a little travel dreaming in your life, and I wandered the world recently courtesy of LIFE’s hardcover travel book, “Dream Destinations: 100 of the World’s Best Vacations” (at the end of this post, find out how to get me to mail it to you!)

Starting in 1936, LIFE magazine was the place to go for excellent photojournalism. I was sad when it folded as a monthly magazine in 2000, but the brand lives onward in various scaled-back incarnations, including some book publishing.

Any book like this is trying to both appeal to the adventurous, and also encourage the less-traveled to jump in and wander.  Consequently, some places that LIFE suggests are way too predictable and touristy for me, so I must smack myself because many others (including my wonderful readers who put up with my opinionated rants) might love them.

Then again, several locations were new to me, and almost all of the photos were very nice, so on balance I was pleased with the book.

“Dream Destinations” is organized by vacation types, so I focused on the ones “For Families.”  Here are some of LIFE’s suggestions for kid-friendly locations, and my reaction to them:

  • London.  Well, yes, I’ll buy that!  Unfortunately, it’s so expensive that it really is a dream to ever go there unless you save up for awhile.
  • Orlando.  No way.  I know there’s more to the town than Walt Disney World, but to be blunt, there isn’t MUCH more.  Doesn’t meet my “dream” criteria (plus the accompanying photo was one of the weakest in the book; was the photographer not very inspired?)
  • The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park.  Yes, indeed.  Their snowy hotel photo is drool-worthy, and the writeup highlighted something unique: the Bracebridge Dinners during Christmas.
  • The Bahamas.  I’m all for a tropical escape, but the writeup talked about all-inclusive resorts and behemoth places like Atlantis on Paradise Island. Neither is my style because they keep visitors in a cossetted bubble; how am I going to show my kids any local Bahamian culture in such lodgings?
  • Memphis.  Yes, absolutely.  Lots of different kinds of music to learn about (including the roots of rock in tiny Sun Studio,) family-friendly Beale Street, good food, the excellent National Civil Rights Museum….I’m a fan.

Many other destination photos and descriptions in the book (listed in sections like “For History Buffs” and “For Romantics”) were very appealing and less-known to me:  China’s Huangshan Mountains, the Masai Mara in Africa, upper Bucks County PA in the fall,  Snowdonia in Wales and Lake Wanaka in New Zealand.

If all this sounds like your kind of book, here’s what to do to win my copy:

  • Leave a brief comment below about why you’d like to read “Dream Destinations.”
  • At the end of this week, on Friday, September 19, 2008, I will randomly pick one of your comments using one of the cool tools on, then I’ll announce the winner in a separate post.
  • If you win, I’ll email you at the address you leave when you comment (to get your snail mail address,) then I’ll box up the book and send it to you. Yes, I’ll mail to places outside the US.

Good luck, and follow your dreams….

Update: Looks like LIFE is (partly) back in an online form, with access to lots of images.