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Former New Times writer Jennifer Best's family travel guide has topped the local best-seller list compiled by The Novel Experience. After three weeks on the shelves, Best Family Adventures: San Luis Obispo County, surpassed local sales of the recent New York Times bestseller Marley and Me by John Grogan.

YOUNG EXPLORERS :  *****strokes-book-8/3***** - Valerie and Erica Best helped gather research for Best Family Adventures: San Luis Obispo County by taking a stroll on the Oso Flaco Lake boardwalk. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER BEST
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER BEST
  • YOUNG EXPLORERS : *****strokes-book-8/3***** Valerie and Erica Best helped gather research for Best Family Adventures: San Luis Obispo County by taking a stroll on the Oso Flaco Lake boardwalk.

# "I was pretty surprised," Best said. "I knew they kept the list, but I didn't think to check the list. It's pretty cool."

Best's first book boasts more than 300 family-friendly, kid-tested, parent-approved adventures, organized by city. It also includes art associations, theaters, farmers markets, parks, and day trips to outlying areas. Each listing includes driving directions, addresses, phone numbers, and web sites.

"I tried to include everything we could find for families," Best said. "My two young girls Valerie, 3, and Erica, 6 helped research the book with me. Some things I included are more for teenagers, and we probably won't return for a few years. Our favorite adventure is Big Falls Little Falls."

The book references some obvious destinations such as the dunes and Monta"a de Oro but also explores some less-likely places. Best said that even locals might be surprised to find details of the Nipomo Regional Park, Nitt Witt Ridge, and the Design Village in Cal Poly.

Some of the listings sprang from her own discoveries, such as the Estero Bay bluffs. She'd been curious about the large turnout on the west side of Highway 1 just north of Cayucos, so one day she stopped to find out what was there. She discovered an unspoiled, 9-mile stretch of coastal bluffs, all open to the public.

"I looked at a lot of travel books," Best said. "I think one difference [with mine] is that it's by city, but the biggest difference is that it's family oriented. Most of the other guides are written for drivers or adults."

Staff Writer Karen Velie compiled this week's Strokes and Plugs. Santa Maria Sun Arts Editor Craig Shafer contributed. Send your business news to kvelie@newtimesslo.com.

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