15 Book-Tourism Destinations For Literature-Lovers That You Have To Put On Your Bucket List

One of my favorite parts of road trips is driving along and unexpectedly coming across a sign for any sort of literary historical home or landmark — like when I was driving across the country from Minnesota to Georgia and stumbled upon Hannibal, Missouri (aka the birthplace and childhood home of Mark Twain). Now, with Gone Girl fandom off the charts, a new small town in Missouri (Cape Girardeau) is picking up some literary tourism, as well.

Of course, not every literary geek will be in the middle of the country sometime soon, which is fine, because no matter where your 2015 travel plans take you in the world, there's bound to be a significant literary landmark somewhere nearby.

From Harry Potter-fanatics to Oscar Wilde-devotees, here's a list of houses, museums, monuments, and natural landmarks from across the globe to help squeeze some some literary history into your next vacation.

Image: kelly taylor/flickr

by Becky Schultz

Hemingway House

Where: Key West, Florida

Literary Significance: Nobel Prize-winning writer of The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and The Old Man and the Sea (just to name a few) lived and wrote in this Key West home for more than 10 years. The Hemingway House is open for tours that run through dozens of rooms and garden — each of which are also home to more than 40 cats.

The Sun Also Rises, $10, Amazon; A Farewell to Arms, $10, Amazon; The Old Man and the Sea, $8, Amazon


Cimetière du Père Lachaise

Where: Paris, France

Literary Significance: The largest cemetery in Paris, the Cimetière du Père Lachaise holds more than 1 million interments that stretch across 100 acres of land. One of the most-visited graves is that of Oscar Wilde. Traditionally, visitors dab on red lipstick and kiss his monument (which also doubles as a beautiful Art Deco piece). Unfortunately, due to the damage its caused on his tomb (requiring repairs), this practice is no longer allowed (which doesn’t mean it still isn’t worth a visit).


Walden Pond

Where: Concord, Massachusetts

Literary Significance: Walden pond is the destination for transcendentalists/those interested in the minimalist lifestyle. Owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson and made popular by philosopher Henry David Thoreau, who wrote about his experience living on the pond for two years, this is a place still frequented by visits from those interested in simple living and self-sufficiency.

Image: jthetzel/Flickr

The Plaza Hotel

Where: Manhattan, New York City

Literary Significance: One of the most climactic scenes of The Great Gatsbywhen Tom confronts Gatsby about his love for Daisytakes place at the Plaza Hotel, but a number of other references to the hotel are made across literary genres as well. Examples: It’s where Mia Thermompoilis’ grand-mère stayed in The Princess Diaries and is also the home of Eloise (who lived in the “room on the tippy-top floor”).

The Great Gatsby, $5, Amazon; The Princess Diaries, $7, Amazon; Eloise, $9, Amazon

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Casa di Giulietta

Where: Verona, Italy

Literary Significance: Translation: Juliet’s house. Some view this is a cheesy tourist attraction, and in some ways they’re right — especially since its in the midst of one of the most culturally rich countries in the world. But the romantic in you will still want to stop and see the balcony that Juliet stood when Romeo declared his love. And, in light of all the romance, many visitors leave love notes of their own on the walls and doors in the entrance to the courtyard.

Image: traveljunction/Flickr

Shakespeare Globe Theater

Where: London, England

Literary Significance: When the Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse built in 1599 by William Shakespeare’s playing company, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, burned down in 1613, and was later rebuilt. Shakespeare’s Globe is a reconstruction of the original located on the original grounds. It opened to the public in 1997, and also includes a new indoor theatre — a smaller, candle-lit space not unlike the indoor playhouses of Jacobean London. If you’re in London and out for a walk on the south bank of the River Thames, you can’t (and shouldn’t) miss it.

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The Elephant House

Where: Edinburgh, Scotland

Literary Significance: Harry Potter fans from all over the world stop into The Elephant House to get a taste for where J.K. Rowling infamously wrote much of the series. What’s more, though, is that the streets and architecture of Edinburgh are reminiscent of Hogwarts itself. A trip to Scotland is the perfect escape for Harry Potter-lovers.

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Image: Kartoffelmos/Flickr

Museum of Natural History

Where: Manhattan, New York City

Literary Significance: One of the most iconic moments in The Catcher in the Rye is when Holden walks from Central Park the museum of Natural History, remembering all of the trips he took there as a child — representative of the simple life that Holden wants to live.

Click here to buy.


Charles Dickens Museum

Where: 48 Doughty Street in Holborn, London Borough of Camden, England.

Literary Significance: Charles Dickens lived in this Georgian terraced home from 1837 to 1839, during which he finished The Pickwick Papers and wrote the entirety of Oliver Twist. Spread over four floors, the museum contains an expansive collection of paintings, manuscripts, furniture, and other Dickens-related objects. It’s worth stopping in just to get a glimpse of Dickens Dream, an unfinished portrait of Dickens in his study among his own fictional characters.

The Pickwick Papers, $9, Amazon; Oliver Twist, $5, Amazon

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Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum

Where: Hannibal, Missouri

Literary Significance: Samuel Langhorne Clemens (otherwise known as Mark Twain) lived here from 1844 to 1853, during which he found inspiration from the small town that he used in many of his stories — like white picket fences. The coolest part about the museum is probably the interactive exhibits, including a replica stagecoach and river raft. Oh, and it also houses the second largest collection of original Norman Rockwell paintings.

Image: Minnemom/Flickr

Borgo Pass/Hotel Dracula

Where: Romania

Literary Significance: Made famous by Dracula, the Borgo Pass is, in reality, a high mountain pass that connects Transylvania with Bukovina. In Dracula, it was the gateway to the realm of Count Dracula. Travels in the region have the option of staying at the Hotel Dracula, which was built at an elevation of 3,700 ft. and has a truly stunning view of the countryside.

Click here to buy.

Image: Richard Mortel/Flickr

James Joyce's Dublin

Where: Dublin, Ireland

Literary Significance: Sure, you can stop by the James Joyce statue on Earl Street in the heart of Dublin, but you’re better off exploring the streets, pubs, and monuments visited on Bloomsday, the day of action in Ulysses . Not sure where to start? It’s all good–books and guides have been written about it.

Click here to buy.

Image: Phil Guest/Flickr

Lake Pepin

Where: Pepin, Wisconsin

Literary Significance: Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up in Pepin and uses it as the setting for her first book, Little House in the Big Woods. The small Wisconsin town houses a museum as well, and is rumored to be one of the most beautiful spots off the Mississippi River in the country.

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Image: David Clow/Flickr

The Hobbit Hole Of Bilbo Baggins

Where: Hinuera, Matamata, North Island, New Zealand

Literary Significance: Whether you’re a fan of the books or the movies (or, like many LOTR followers, both), you’ll geek out on a tour of Hobbiton, which takes you around the village and into the home of Biblo Baggins, the Green Dragon Inn, and more. It’s a wonderfully geeky (and absolutely beautiful) place to visit.

Click here to buy.

Trey Ratcliff/Flickr

The home of the Harlem Renaissance

Where: Harlem, Manhattan, New York City

Literary Significance: Perhaps one of the most important African-American cultural movements ever to occur in New York City, the Harlem Renaissance introduced literary icons like James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, and Langston Hughes, to name a few. The best time to go is in July, when Harlem hosts an annual Book Fair that brings more than 30,000 people together to celebrate African-American literature and art.