1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Philadelphia Liberty Trail – A Boomeresque Travel Book Review

by Suzanne Fluhr on July 19, 2015 · 34 comments

Philadelphia Liberty Trail Boomeresque book review

Philadelphia Liberty Trail Boomeresque book reviewI’ve been an unapologetic history geek ever since my father took me on a tour of all things Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia for a fourth grade school report, so I’m happy to review the 2015 guidebook, Philadelphia Liberty Trail by baby boomer travel writers and bloggers, Larissa and Michael Milne.

The Milnes are long time Philadelphia residents who left to travel the world in 2011 with a little statue of Philadelphia’s favorite fictional native son, Rocky, in tow. Their guidebook reflects their affection for the “green country towne” William Penn laid out in 1683. Although Philadelphia Liberty Trail is designed as a guidebook for five different walking tours of the colonial area, radiating from Independence Mall, I enjoyed reading it cover to cover, almost as a kind of biography of my hometown.

Philadelphia Liberty Trail has inspired me to rediscover the streets trod by our founding fathers at the end of the 18th century, during the momentous times when Philadelphia was ground zero for the establishment of the United States of America. The Milnes explain that while their Philadelphia Liberty Trail encompasses about four miles of walking altogether, each section is a two to four hour loop that can be done independently, starting and finishing at or near Independence Mall, the location of the National Park Service’s Visitor Center for Independence National Park.

Although I have certainly enjoyed many live guided tours during my travels, one benefit of using this interesting guidebook, instead of a live tour guide, is that visitors can set their own pace depending on their particular interests. As a recovering lawyer, I know I can easily spend two hours just in the National Constitution Center (one stop on the Independence Mall North loop). Many of the recommended stops have on site guides, so visitors can enjoy the best of both the guided and unguided worlds.

This book is considerably more than a “go here, go there” book. Although this is a meaty guidebook, the Milnes have a light and engaging writing style somewhat reminiscent of that of  travelguide rock star, Rick Steves. In addition to the main narrative, they have sprinkled their book with text boxes, providing interesting stories and factoids, many of which were new to me. One of these boxes even provides the essentials of “Cheesesteak Ettiquette”, so you can confidently order Philadelphia’s signature sandwich without producing eye rolls from the ever tolerant 😉 locals.

In addition to maps, photos and the main itinerary of stops for each tour, the Milnes also describe “Side Trips” a little off the main route and suggest “Pit Stops” for a rest, eating or shopping. Many people bring their children to visit the birthplace of the United States. Philadelphia History Trail uses a kite icon to identify places the younger set are likely to particularly enjoy. For each specific recommended venue along the Philadelphia Liberty Trail, the book  provides important information about opening times and cost along with contact information and the official website URL. As with all print travel books, readers are urged to check for up to date information on line as they are making their final travel plans. (For example, even since the recent publication of Philadelphia History Trail, the regional rail system has changed the name of the closest station to colonial Philadelphia from Market East to Jefferson.)

The Milnes included a short “Farther Afield” chapter, suggesting visit-worthy historical venues beyond what was the colonial section of Philadelphia. Some of these are within the city limits of modern day Philadelphia while others, such as Valley Forge National Historical Park, are in the surrounding counties. Philadelphia Liberty Trail  ends with a fairly comprehensive “General Travel Information” section, containing news you can use for  transportation and parking, where to stay, and where to eat.

For those who want to delve deeper, the Milnes included a “Suggested Reading” list sure to please my fellow history nerds. For budding history geeks, there is also a “Books to Inspire Young Historians” list.

With its photos and maps, Philadelphia Liberty Trail would be a good read for armchair travelers and is a must read (bring along) for those visiting the City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection).  The 239 page paperback is available for order at your local book store and on you purchase the book using the link below, Boomeresque will receive a very small commission without affecting your price.

If you have been to Philadelphia, did you enjoy your visit? If you have never been to Philly, would you consider planning a visit? Do you ever consult guidebooks when you travel?

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin Marks July 19, 2015 at 9:25 pm

That is so cool that your dad took you on that tour. I wish more parents would be as involved in their children’s education this way. It made a lasting memory and was fun to boot!


Patti July 19, 2015 at 9:40 pm

We had the pleasure of meeting Michael and Larissa while we were living in Ashland, OR. I admire their nomadic lifestyle and their ability to write a guide book while doing so AND getting published! Quite the achievement. Congratulations to Michael and Larissa.


Suzanne Fluhr July 19, 2015 at 9:43 pm

It’s true. I believe my interest in history was stoked by my father’s enthusiasm as he took me around to various places associated with Ben Franklin. He also bought me several books—one of which I read with my own children.


Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru July 20, 2015 at 1:10 am

The Philadelphia Liberty Trail guide’s walk at your own pace approach would be our preference on a return trip. We really enjoyed Valley Forge, and would appreciate the additional recommendations, too. Best wishes to the Milnes on this great title!


Paula McInerney July 20, 2015 at 1:22 am

Congrats to the Milnes’ for this book and for your review of it. I like that they have included things like Cheesesteak Ettiquette, so as not to make the locals eyes roll


Marilyn Jones July 20, 2015 at 1:48 am

I worked in Philadelphia for 10 years kitty-corner to Independence Hall. I used to love walking in the Historic District during my lunch hour. I wish I would have had an excellent guide book like this to give me ideas on where to go and information about exactly what I was seeing. If I ever get back to the city I will certainly buy this book to make my visit more complete.


Anita @ No Particular Place To Go July 20, 2015 at 9:14 am

We loved our visit to Philadelphia a few years ago and, since our time was limited, saw only a few of the highlights. I’d love to go back with the guidebook, “Philadelphia Liberty Trail” and walk through some of the author’s suggested routes. And we’re with you – history, trivia and little factoids fascinate us too!


Anand BV July 20, 2015 at 12:23 pm

Travel guides are always great for introverts like me. I find my peace when I travel alone. I have been to Philadelphia when I was kid. Hardly remember the place, but it is always great to visit the past to cherish the memories.


Irene S. Levine, PhD July 20, 2015 at 12:49 pm

This sounds like an indispensable guide for the visitor to Philadelphia.
I haven’t been to Philly in many years. I would love to return with this guidebook.
It’s nice that the Milnes are world travelers who have honed their skills to look at their hometown as tourists.


Suzanne Fluhr July 25, 2015 at 3:12 am

And, ironically, I’m going to use their guidebook to try to play tourist in my hometown! I hope you (and your husband) will come to Philly sometime so we can spend some time IRL. It’s not that far!


Nancie July 20, 2015 at 5:22 pm

If I was planning a trip to Philadelphia (and who knows!), I would buy this guidebook. Great review, Suzanne.


Suzanne Fluhr July 25, 2015 at 3:13 am

I hope we will have the opportunity to welcome you to Philly someday.


Jacqueline Gum July 21, 2015 at 8:48 am

This sounds like a perfect book and I’d love to “do” Philadelphia sometime! I was raised in Pittsburgh, but we never made it down that way before I moved at age 11. We toured Washington DC a few times, but never Philadelphia. Love that you started so young!


Suzanne Fluhr July 25, 2015 at 3:14 am

One of our tourism slogans was/is “Philly’s more fun if you stay overnight”. Hopefully, you’ll make the trip someday, so we can meet IRL!


Roz Warren July 21, 2015 at 1:25 pm

Now this is a topic!! Zentangle, for me, remains less than fascinating, but a review of a good guide book? That’s right up my alley. (Which is kind of a pun. But not entirely.) Enjoyed reading your review and will enjoy reading this book. THANKS.


Suzanne Fluhr July 25, 2015 at 3:16 am

Roz—I know another book waiting for my review. It’ not a travel book exactly, but this blog is supposed to be about Baby Boomer travels for the body and mind, so it fits. 😉 (I don’t mean to be cryptic. Roz recovered from lawyering a long time ago and is a writer with a day job as a librarian. Her latest book is, “Our Bodies, Our Shelves”. Stay tuned for the review.


Carol Colborn July 22, 2015 at 5:57 pm

What a great review with specifics on why and how the book can be very useful and interesting! I wonder if you could do a review of my book, too?


Suzanne Fluhr July 25, 2015 at 3:18 am

Carol, I’ve purchased your book and it’s on the list to be reviewed. I’ve been hanging out with some very talented company, so I actually have a queue of books to review written by people I know in real life or on-line. Not good for my self esteem. 😉


Cathy Sweeney July 23, 2015 at 10:26 pm

Sounds like this book has all the elements for a great guide to Philadelphia’s historic sites. I love little text boxes with factoids, too. Sadly, I have not been to Philadelphia and that really should be a crime! I even extra incentive to go since my mother’s stepfather was a descendant of Benjamin Franklin (although full details are rather difficult to find) and what better place to follow in his footsteps. I’ll definitely check into the book before going.


Suzanne Fluhr July 24, 2015 at 1:41 am

Cathy, by all means, come to Philly. I’ll even try to be there, so we won’t miss each other by a day like we did when I was in Palo Alto last year. 😉


Shelley July 24, 2015 at 9:07 pm

I enjoy spending hours reading guidebooks before going to a new location, and dreaming about what I’ll see. This sounds like one I should read before traveling to Philadelphia. Especially if it will save me the embarrassment of mis-ordering a cheesesteak!


Suzanne Fluhr July 25, 2015 at 3:19 am

Yes, unfortunately, Philadelphians can get a little peevish about cheese steaks. Also, never make the mistake of asking a group of Philadelphians where to buy the best cheese steak because you could end up having to separate combatants.


Michele Peterson July 25, 2015 at 8:45 pm

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover but the cover of Philadelphia History Trail is really engaging. I love the architecture shot and bright red makes me want to open the book and find out more. From your review it sounds as though the inside content is just as good! Very nicely done!


Susan Moore July 26, 2015 at 9:11 pm

I love Philadelphia, such a great vibe in that city! I haven’t spent a whole lot of time there but I was inspired to read up more on Benjamin Franklin afterwards. I do love travel books that delve into a lot of historical information and stories rather than just the ‘go see this’ type of info.


Suzanne Fluhr August 9, 2015 at 10:11 pm

Reading up on the history of a place before a trip there definitely enhances the experience, IMHO. And as you mention, the trip can also provide fodder to stimulate further research after a trip. I guess you can graduate the history major from college, but……


Cheryl July 27, 2015 at 5:29 am

The Philadelphia Liberty Trail sounds like a great book to discover Philly on foot. We enjoy walking around a new city to explore all those little places you would never see in a car or bus tour, and the book by the Milnes seems like a great start! Dare I say I am excited about the Cheesesteak Etiquette? Great idea for local tips!


Rossana July 28, 2015 at 12:33 am

Great review, Philadelphia is one of the places that I need to visit, great to have a travel book to guide me along the way. Who knew that there was cheesesteak etiquette! 🙂


Suzanne Fluhr July 28, 2015 at 12:54 am

Yes there definitely is cheesesteak etiquette. That’s one reason why this book is very important.


Kristin Henning December 1, 2015 at 11:48 am

Nice roundup, Suzanne. I especially want to return to Philadelphia and try out the Milne’s walking tours–with your guidance, of course.


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