Guidebooks that feature only locally owned businesses

The problem with travel these days is that the ubiquitous presence of chain stores and restaurants transform any destination into the very same thing you have at home. Take Miracle Mile in Chicago, for example. I walked nearly its entire length two months ago and found nothing but the same chain stores we have back home. Tell me again what makes this so great?

The true joy of travel is not shopping at a Banana Republic in an exotic location, but rather seeking out local haunts, those unique, one-of-a-kind places you don’t have back home–wherever that might be.

And that’s why I was particularly pleased to come across guides. These guides specialize in only “locally owned businesses” within the “urban core” of a city. Each city edition includes just 90 of the very best local restaurants and shops so that tourists aren’t overwhelmed with choice or underwhelmed with any given recommendation.

Currently, only 18 cities are featured in the lineup–all of which are in North America with the sole exception of Paris. Be sure to go out and buy a copy for your next trip – I got mine and Barnes at Noble. Er….