Travel Book Review: ‘101 Places Not To See Before You Die’

Book: 101 Places Not To See Before You Die
: Catherine Price

2.5 stars

Putting a twist on Patricia Schultz’s 1000 Places to See Before You Die, Catherine Price’s 101 Places Not to See Before You Die is a fantastic idea. But the execution doesn’t live up to its potential.

Price aims to write about 101 inhospitable places, boring tourist attractions and other awful places you wouldn’t want to go. Many of her choices are right on, like Wall Drug, Times Square on New Year’s Eve, and Rush Hour on a Samoan Bus (you’ll literally be sitting on someone’s lap.)

Others miss the mark, like “the entire state of Nevada.” Really, Catherine? She also includes Mount Rushmore and Stonehenge, two attractions which, while not the most interesting places in the world, are certainly worth a token visit. And she includes quirky attractions like the Wiener Circle in Chicago, which is an absolute must-visit, in my opinion.

mount rushmore

Price clearly does not understand the joy of making yourself the fifth head on Mount Rushmore.


Price apparently runs out of ideas, so she starts including places that are literally impossible for any human being to visit. A sampling: “Jupiter’s Worst Moon,” “An island off Germany’s east coast on January 16, 1362,” “The bottom of the Kola Superdeep Borehole” and “Hell.” Others are feasible but abstract, like “An AA meeting when you’re drunk” and “Your boss’s bedroom.”

I’m not sure why such bizarre selections were included in the book. Evidently, they were an attempt at humor. But they only served to irritate me. Imagine if Schultz had included in her 1000 Places to See Before You Die selections like “Heaven,” “October 1492 in the West Indies” or “A supermodel’s bedroom.” Wouldn’t that be annoying?

wieners circle logo

Price is way off on Chicago's Wiener Circle, which is a must-visit.


And then there’s the strange series of “guest entries” – as if this is just a blog and not a real book. The guest entries, combined with the impossible entries, can only lead to the conclusion that Price simply didn’t want to write an entire book. As a reader, I feel ripped off because I was promised 101 places and I only got about 65.

When she does present legitimate choices, Price writes with an easy, natural voice and a wicked sense of humor. It’s a shame she bothered with these gimmicks, because she clearly doesn’t need them.

Price is a great writer; you just wish she had actually finished the book properly.

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About Scott Shetler

Scott is a Seattle-based journalist and blogger who puts a quirky spin on travel adventures around the world. He has been featured in Travel + Leisure, Connect Magazine, Matador Travel, and the Washington Post.

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