The Great American Staycation: How to Make Vacation at Home Fun for the Whole Family (and Your Wallet!)

Adams Media, $9.95

To quote from a Clash song, "Should I stay or should I go?" writer and columnist Matt Wixon definitely chooses the former. With the economy still a bit wobbly, he recommends numerous ways that people can enjoy a vacation at home or at least no more than 100 miles away. He defines "staycation" as "a vacation in which the vacationer stays at home, or near home, while creating the environment of a traditional vacation." But for a true staycation, there are rules: It must be treated as a real vacation. That means turning off your cell phone and not checking your e-mail every day. A start and end date must be chosen and adhered to. A positive attitude must be maintained. Just because it isn't the trip of a lifetime that you dreamed about, Wixon insists, doesn't mean you can't have a good time. What kinds of things can one do on a staycation? Among many possibilities, Wixon suggests rock climbing, camping, hiking or going to theme parks, museums, zoos, sporting events, community theater and comedy clubs.



The Survival Handbook: Essential Skills for Outdoor Adventure

DK Publishing, $30

The principles in this book are simple: Expend the least amount of energy for the maximum amount of gain; treat the wilderness with respect. An understanding of those two precepts will go a long way toward promoting enjoyment outside the city limits. This formidable handbook functions as a primer on what to do and what not to do. It addresses such issues as getting into shape, preparing mentally and planning your journey. Know your environment, the book cautions, and get the right gear. It also describes and shows what a basic survival kit should look like. In addition, there are sections on understanding maps and weather conditions, making a fire, the importance of water (and how to find it, no matter what the climate), cooking in the wild (edible plants, catching and preparing fish, trapping animals), first-aid essentials and what to do in emergencies. An indispensable guide.

Seeing Central Park: The Official Guide to the World's Greatest Urban Park

Abrams, $19.95

Built between 1858 and 1873 and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Central Park is one of the most famous parks in the world. Author Sara Cedar Miller, the official photographer and historian for the Central Park Conservancy, has put together a lovely testimonial to the park -- all 843 acres of it -- describing its history and featuring gorgeous photos of its landscapes, bridges and statues, gardens and ravines, pedestrian paths and roads. She calls Central Park "America's first sculpture park" (although the fountain at Bethesda Terrace, "Angel of the Waters," was the only sculpture actually commissioned for the park, Central Park contains 51 bronze and marble statues). She also describes the park's ball fields, the iconic Sheep Meadow (so named for the sheep that used to graze there), the Mall (flanked by stately elms and the sculptures of poets and writers), Strawberry Fields (a teardrop-shaped piece of land dedicated to John Lennon as well as an international garden of peace) and the Delacorte Theater, designed to resemble the Globe Theatre in London.

Animal Migration: Remarkable Journeys in the Wild

University of California Press, $34.95

For anyone who wants to know the whys and whereabouts of animal migrations, this oversize book will be a useful addition. It includes information on 50 migratory routes of caribou, polar bears, bison, elephants and penguins; whales, walruses, sharks and salmon; storks, hummingbirds and monarch butterflies. Includes more than 300 photographs, maps and illustrations.

Great Races, Incredible Places: 100+ Fantastic Runs around the World

Bantam, $16

Running around the world is an obsession to Kimi Puntillo. She has participated in every race known to mankind, or so it seems, from 1-mile runs to marathons. In fact, she has run a marathon on every continent. In this gift to runners everywhere, Puntillo describes 100 races around the world, such as a marathon and half-marathon in Antarctica. Getting there, she admits, is not easy, nor is it for anyone who needs cheering crowds to goad them on. "The only onlookers I saw were three parka-clad Chileans, singing and clenching a bottle of vodka, who offered me a cigarette." She describes the barefoot runners of the Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon and Summit Club and, back in North America, the Mt. Washington Road Race in New Hampshire, which takes place on one hill, a summit of 4,650 feet, and may sound easy but, as Puntillo points out, the steep grade reaches 22 percent on the last 50 yards, the air is thin and the weather unpredictable. She also includes the coldest race on record (the Siberian Ice Marathon at 38 below Fahrenheit), the Bare Buns Fun Run at the Kaniksu Ranch Nudist Park at Loon Lake, Wash. ( Runners are required to wear sneakers, though) and the New York Road Runners Empire State Building Run-Up, as runners climb up 1,576 stairs (Wearing a gorilla suit or a blond wig is optional, although some climbers apparently have done it).

Resourceful Traveler is written by June Sawyers.