Pack Your Bags: The NY Times 36 Hours Guide

Ant and I have logged more than 25,000 miles of road trip travel in our two decades together.  To us, the beauty of the road trip is spontaneity…with a side of inspired planning.  Past road trip motivations have come in the form of magazine articles, invitations from friends, or once, in 1998, a television show on quirky hotel rooms (see: The Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo).

In the past, I’ve also taken direction from The New York Times 36 Hours column–a great feature if you’ve never read it–and have never been disappointed.  Often times, our road trips only allow for short visits–24-48 hours in a city or town–and the Times column really distills the often overwhelming information found in guidebooks into manageable pieces.

We might never have found the fried chicken and mac 'n cheese at Alcenia's in Memphis (and our swell digs at The Talbot Heirs) without the 36 Hours column!

In December, The New York Times released a compilation of the US and Canadian 36 Hour columns in one gorgeous, cloth hardcover book.  36 Hours: 150 Weekends in the USA & Canada is divided by region with tons of photos, handy ribboned bookmarks by region, and an index that goes for pages.

My domestic road trip bible!

Even if you’re not into road trips, you’ll find many manageable day-trips, business travel side trips, and local adventures in this book.  The Northeast section alone covers more than 35 cities–most of which are within a 12-hour drive of our house–St. John’s and Halifax might be a bit further afield.  Here’s a small sampling of the featured locations in my neck of the woods:

  • Cape May
  • Princeton
  • Philadelphia
  • The Brandywine Valley
  • Annapolis
  • The Laurel Highlands
  • Providence
  • Burlington
  • Portland (ME)
  • Pittsburgh
The regions covered in 36 Hours (photo via This listing of big cities doesn't include the dozens of small cities included in the book.
Edited by Barbara Ireland, 36 Hours is a terrific book for your favorite road tripper or arm-chair traveler.  I’ve been pouring over the pages and am eager to take another trip to visit my cousin in down in Raleigh so I can visit Father & Sons Antiques, The Scrap Exchange, and chow down on some barbecue at The Pit, a place I also saw on The Food Network.  Also, I’m frothing to get back to Savannah after reading about the places I’ve missed on my visits there.
Anyone up for a visit to Savannah?
I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon this gem but picked it up on Amazon and couldn’t be more pleased with my purchase.  If you’re not ready to commit to the whole book, at least take a peek at the 36 Hours column–I’ve compiled a few for your vieiwing pleasure–and you never know, you might find your next long-weekend adventure here!
We're headed to Cleveland for a wedding in June and will have a chance to check out the recommendations in the book.

I haven’t been this happy with a book purchase since picking up The Night Circus in October.  This book will serve us well as we continue to crisscross the country on our little adventures!


  • At 2012.01.30 03:49, Alicia said:

    I just searched this out on Amazon. If I had the money I’d buy it right now but the most I can do is add it to my wishlist so I don’t forget to look it up when I have the money. I’m huge into travelling and this book looks fantastic. Thanks for the recommendation.
    Alicia´s last blog post ..The Making Of A Baby Blanket

    • At 2012.01.30 20:36, Natalie said:

      alicia, you can also google 36 hours and see if a place near you has been featured. this would be a less expensive way to get the same result. 🙂

    • At 2012.01.30 04:28, Lenore said:

      Oh yeah – this looks like a book for me. I love road tripping in the US and it sounds like this points out so many highlights I’d love to check out.
      Lenore´s last blog post ..Dystopian February is NEXT WEEK! Check out these badges …

      • At 2012.01.30 20:32, Natalie said:

        it’s so interesting that you commented on this post–i was actually thinking of you when i posted the link to the german 36-hour column! weird, no?

      • At 2012.01.30 13:39, Ti said:

        This book looks fabulous and so nicely put together! I much prefer road trips over plane trips. The conversations that can be had while in the car are often the most amusing conversations I’ve ever had. Period.
        Ti´s last blog post ..The Sunday Salon: Revelations

        • At 2012.01.30 20:30, Natalie said:

          also, kazoos are a dee-lightful way to pass the miles while driving through oklahoma. purchased at a cracker barrel, we kazoo-ed television theme songs for the other to guess. we may have been slightly punchy by this point. i did save the kazoos, though, and they’re in a place of honor on a shelf.

        • At 2012.01.30 13:59, g said:

          i love the 36 hours articles – devour them like candy even if i don’t have the slightest intention of visiting. love forwarding them to people from those towns too – since the articles always unearth something even a local wouldn’t know.

          • At 2012.01.30 20:34, Natalie said:

            they are great, aren’t they? also, thanks for the TYPE stop-mo books video. i’d seen it on twitter but shared it with ant–we loved it. 🙂 how’s everything going? sorry i didn’t make it out there for a visit last week but you know how it goes out here. i have lots of vacay in the upcoming months and daddy-o has a ton of frequent flier miles…

          • At 2012.01.30 16:44, Belle Wong said:

            I’m so glad you wrote about this book! Road tripping is something Ward and I have talked about doing more of. I’m putting this one on my to-buy list for the next book shopping spree. I know I said I wouldn’t buy any more print books this year but I’ve already fallen off the wagon once – a second time couldn’t hurt, surely!
            Belle Wong´s last blog post ..From My Shelves: Ten Books for Creative Inspiration

            • At 2012.01.30 20:31, Natalie said:

              i was thinking of you–toronto makes the cut in this book! you can actually google the column and find some new haunts. 🙂

            • At 2012.01.30 17:19, Dishy said:

              This book looks amazing, Nat and I’ve never heard of the 36 hours column. Thanks so much for the heads-up!

              Dishy´s last blog post ..Tasty Lentil Tacos

              • At 2012.01.30 20:35, Natalie said:

                there’s a great column on portland–we’ll make it up there sometime (when it’s WARM, thankyouverymuch.)

              • At 2012.01.30 21:21, softdrink said:

                I just ordered this from Powells…the first book I’ve bought this year and it’s all your fault!!! (in a good way)
                softdrink´s last blog post ..A People’s Readalong: week 3

                • At 2012.01.30 22:39, Natalie said:

                  i hope you and the burg take many a happy trips in the VW up and down the coast!!! enjoy the book–glad i could be of inspiration. 🙂

                • At 2012.01.30 21:46, Jenners said:

                  This sounds fantastic … and the it looks so visually appealing too!! Thanks for letting me know about it!
                  Jenners´s last blog post ..A People’s Readalong: Persons of Mean and Vile Condition

                  • At 2012.01.30 23:05, Christy said:

                    I’ve never heard of the column or the book, but I love the concept and even more, I love the idea of using it, a lot. As far as U.S. trips, I really want to visit the Deep South in the near future. And of course it would be great to explore what’s near and close by in the mid-Atlantic region as well. Nice find!
                    Christy´s last blog post ..Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

                    • At 2012.01.30 23:51, Jess - A Book Hoarder said:

                      You had me at ribboned bookmarks. I must have it!

                      The husband and I are hoping to do more road-tripping, it is one of the things I miss since he got out of the military and I wasn’t constantly moving back and forth between the east and west coast.
                      Jess – A Book Hoarder´s last blog post ..My favorite things

                      • At 2012.01.31 16:40, Kari said:

                        This is AWESOME! I am adding it to my list immediately and seriously considering immediate purchase as well! I need more road trips in my life.
                        Kari´s last blog post ..Westward Ho!: On Little House and childhood obsessions

                        • At 2012.02.01 15:02, Kathleen said:

                          I love that feature in the Times and had no idea that a book had been published! Thanks for letting me know. I love to travel and might want to pick this book up one of these days and let it inspire my future trips.
                          Kathleen´s last blog post ..A Few More From January

                          • At 2012.02.01 18:37, stacybuckeye said:

                            I think I might have to get this one. With a toddler sometimes 36 hours is more than enough, but I still want to start traveling again. Thanks for the recommendation.
                            stacybuckeye´s last blog post ..January Wrap Up and Free Book

                            • At 2012.02.03 17:03, Meg said:

                              Oh, this sounds like an awesome read! Spencer and I are always looking for fun little trips to take in a day or two, so I think this would serve as some excellent inspiration. I love that you and Ant are road trippers — and are such eager and happy travelers! I’m plotting out my 2012 jaunts and can’t wait for spring/summer.
                              Meg´s last blog post ..Book review: ‘What Came First’ by Carol Snow

                              • At 2012.02.03 19:05, Colleen said:

                                Thanks for featuring this – I just ordered two. One for a good friend and travel buddy and one for me. I hope they consider putting the ex-US columns into a compilation.
                                Colleen´s last blog post ..150 Pounds by Kate Rockland

                                • At 2012.02.13 11:16, Connie said:

                                  awesome I need one of these. Thanks for the recommend!
                                  Connie´s last blog post ..Free Spirited, She Is!

                                  • At 2012.02.15 17:21, KKBMOM said:

                                    Thanks Nat,
                                    Especially helpful for people who move to new areas and want to explore!!

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