Taking your kids on a trip to New York City may sound like swimming with lead weights -- in sludge. But Joyce Maynard, who lives in small-town New Hampshire and loves to take her three kids to New York from time to time, has some sound advice on how to make such an expedition worthwhile and even pleasurable. It's in the December/January Parenting.

Maynard cautions that for younger kids, "apple sauce" may be a better place to start than the Big Apple: She proposes Washington as an example of lighter fare. That said, she then lays out a rich toy store of New York attractions, from zoos to parades to cheap eats and sleeps. In addition to listing lots of sights -- not just the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty but the Museum of Holography and the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory -- Maynard offers more general guidance: setting a spending-money policy, not trying to cover too much territory and so forth.

She also writes that "whatever your view of homelessness, it's an issue every parent taking children to New York needs to address. If your child is old enough to benefit from the Museum of Natural History, she's old enough to give an old woman a dollar on a cold night. If it can be said that Trump Tower and F.A.O. Schwartz are a part of what New York's about, then, it must be added, so are the poor."

Yellow Lab Road

Sometimes the best things in a magazine are the least visible, and this is certainly true of European Travel & Life's regular letters from correspondents in Paris, London and elsewhere.

December/January's Paris letter is Joel Stratte-McClure's marvelous account of walking all the way from the Cote d'Azur to Paris along France's famed national network of well-marked hiking trails ("grandes randonnees") with his yellow Labrador, Bogart, who turned out to be an ideal companion: "Bogart never bitched about the direction I chose, quietly tolerated the paw and pad sores, and kept our conversations limited to subjects that interested me."

Along the way, man and dog encounter: charging wild boars, a saxophone's lament, a dead goat (from a mountain fall!), glimpses of paradise, a pair of topless women, crumbling churches, enough charming little dog-welcoming hostelries and eateries to get by, and, of course, a little bit of themselves.

Spectral Highway

El Camino Real, also known as the Old San Antonio Road, once cut a path -- and in places several spidery ones -- across the heart of Texas, from the Rio Grande northeast through San Antonio to Nacogdoches and on to Louisiana. On the occasion of the route's 300th (give or take) anniversary, Texas Monthly sent Stephen Harrigan to travel its distance -- if he could find it.

"For much of its length the road is a ghost, grown over or paved under, disappearing between the established reference points," writes Harrigan. After the first World War, a civil engineer named V.N. Zivley retraced its supposed route and Texas officially marked it with pink-granite slabs every five miles. But most are gone: "Citizens dug them up and moved them to more prominent locations like courthouse lawns or highway rest stops."

So El Camino Real's "presence can only be inferred," Harrigan writes. Fortunately he's collected plenty of history, lore and present-day interviews and impressions to supply the inference.

It'll be no help to anyone who wants to follow Harrigan's trail, but pasted to a page of this issue of Texas Monthly, as part of a General Motors advertisement, is a free official highway map of Texas. Or should be, if it hasn't been swiped.

Golden Gourmet Gourmet was launched 50 years ago this month, and for the longest time held sway over American gastronomic taste from its penthouse offices (and kitchens) at New York's Plaza Hotel. Though Gourmet has been in the vanguard of food writing (the great M.F.K. Fisher was a frequent contributor) it also has catered to that symbiotic activity, travel -- sensing, perhaps, how many people travel for no other reason than to be forced to eat out, and well, every day.

In the anniversary issue (January), some of the magazine's familiar writing stable pay personal homage to the great cities of Gourmet's world: London (John Bainbridge), Paris (Catharine P. Reynolds), New York (Jay Jacobs), Bangkok (Geri Trotta), San Francisco (Gerald Asher), Vienna (Lillian Langseth-Christensen), the Caribbean (Doone Beal) and Geneva (Richard Condon).

These are sentimental journeys rather than epicurean ones, but not so bad for all that. For meatier reportage and reviewing, try Gourmet's regular California column by Caroline Bates, who for this issue visits some of the oldest dining spots still extant in Los Angeles -- Philippe, the Original; Pacific Dining Car; and Musso & Frank Grill, among others -- that trendier dining guides tend wrongfully to dismiss.

Powder Puffs Unqualified, superlative travel recommendations are scarce, but this one sounds like the real thing. Lauren Bernstein, Ski's senior editor for travel, says she's "been around -- not to every last mountain, but to a good fifty or sixty and another not-so-good ten or twenty -- and no one comes up to Deer Valley's {Utah} standards in customer service. Ditto aesthetics." She also has great things to say, in this January feature, about the prices, the food, the atmosphere, the access and, of course, the skiing.

Two other ski resort reports covered in this issue are Sugarbush, Vt., which by this account has recovered from a notoriously bad attitude and offers new management and new equipment, and the idyllic and soon-to-be-discovered (so hurry) Schweitzer Mountain Resort, in the Idaho panhandle.