Sunday, January 1, 2012

Book review: Not For Tourists Guide to Seattle

I recently had the opportunity to review a very interesting guidebook- the Not For Tourists Guide to Seattle. Since I'm a city-dweller here in Seattle, I was interested to see what the book had to say about my city! Here's a bit about the Not For Tourists guides:

Not For Tourists is the ultimate guide for the savvy city-dweller. Our philosophy is simple: Whether you've lived in your neighborhood for 55 years or 55 minutes, NFT will help you navigate and explore the city like a local. Written and designed by in-the-know city slickers themselves, NFT is mobile-oriented, cartographically-inclined, and to-the-point.
For over a decade, our cabal of mapmakers, writers, editors, graphic designers, and urban adventurers have scoured the streets, read the writings, and lived the credos of practical, esoteric city travel. Within the matte black covers of our guides and throughout the interminable, electronic pages of our website, discover secret city spots you never knew existed-from dive bars and extravagant restaurants to local hardware stores and abandoned buildings (we don't judge).
There is definitely a lot of information in this book! I thought it was really nicely laid out, with a map of the city on the inner cover, which clearly shows where to find the maps for each area of the city.  The maps at the front of the book are the "essentials" maps, which show things like banks, coffee shops, gas stations, parking, landmarks, supermarkets and restaurants, to name a few.  There were some businesses listed in my old neighborhood that have moved or closed in the past few years. Cities change quickly, though, so that's not a surprise to me.

After the neighborhood maps, there is a nice section on parks and places, with very detailed information about the parks, their activities, and how to get there. This section is followed by a sport section, which shows you where to participate in your favorite sports or where to watch the professionals play. There is also a section on transit, a general calendar of events, information on hotels, hospitals, landmarks, WiFi and other useful things. Next is the arts & entertainment section, with information on restaurants, theaters, nightlife, shopping and more. The book closes with a street map of downtown Seattle and a highway map.

Overall I think this is a really useful, educational guide. However, as with any guidebook, you might want to double check information, since things change often.  In browsing the book, I noticed a few errors- as I mentioned earlier, a number of the businesses listed have closed/moved, the information on hotels in my neighborhood was incorrect for one hotel and doesn't list another that opened a couple of years ago. The guidebook also notes that WiFi is not free at Starbucks (true a couple of years ago, but not now). And the guidebook assures readers that no locals use the monorail for public transportation, which is completely untrue for me (although I do admit to being in the minority for that).

I think this is a handy resource, and I'm going to put it in our car for use when we're out and about and don't have access to the internet, but still need to find something.  Not For Tourists guides exist for a number of cities around the world, and there is also a website to visit at and an iPhone app at Happy travels!

Disclosure: I received this book to review for myself. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions posted here are mine and mine alone.