On your next family road trip, consider taking along your own tour guide—one that stops chattering at the press of a button. A new company, Travelog (866/538-7868; www.travelog.com), has 14 taped driving tours (top; $19.95 each) with detailed maps that explain what you're seeing and what's ahead, give hotel options (with special discounts), and include scavenger hunts for kids. Warning: These sound like talking Fodor's guides. Meanwhile, arts councils across the country, and even in Hawaii, have been producing their own taped car tours with—saving grace—locals playing music and telling stories. A standout: a three-part series covering Washington State's Heritage Corridor.
Web exclusive: How to order taped driving tours
The Washington State Arts Commission has produced a standout series covering the Heritage Corridor-Central Washington: Central Washington: Leavenworth to Maryhill; Southeastern Washington: Richland to Clarkston; and Western Washington: the Olympic Peninsula Loop. Each tour is best followed over the course of one to three days, and comes with an illustrated guide (maps, pictures, suggested detours) and an accompanying tape. To order, send a check or mail order for $13.50 ($20.95 for the Olympic Peninsula Loop, which has two tapes), payable to Northwest Heritage Resources. Mail it to Washington State Arts Commission, Folk Arts Program, Box 42675, Olympia, WA 98504-2675; 360/586-2856. Washington State residents need to add an additional 8 percent sales tax to the total.
The Utah Arts Council's driving tour of Utah's Sampete Valley, a 75-mile route drivable in about 80 minutes, also comes with a CD or tape, and an impressive booklet, with maps and stories about the area's architecture, sheep industry, and Scandinavian heritage. To order, send $14.95 to the Sampete Heritage Council, 115 West Main, Mount Pleasant, UT 84647; 435/462-2502.
Maui Speaks, a three- to five-hour historical driving tour of the Hawaiian island's 12 districts, with history, traditional stories, and local music will be issued in early 2003. It will be sold at local book shops and through www.mokuula.com.
A Native American-themed audio tour out in early 2003 covers 140 miles of roads in northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington, traditional home to the Umatilla, Walla Walla, and Cayuse tribes. Maps, photos, and an information booklet will accompany a CD narrated by locals, who explain the tribal take on the culture and history of the area. It's driveable in under three hours. To order, write to the Tomastslikt Cultural Institute at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, 72789 Hwy. 331, Pendelton, Oregon 97801 or email a query to email@example.com.