11 Literary Destinations Every Book-Lover Should Visit In The Fall
Just because school is back in session (for those lucky folks, at least) and Pumpkin Spiced lattes have made their always-anticipated return to the Starbucks menu, it doesn’t mean that the season for travel is over. In fact, it might be just beginning. For us wanderlusting book-lovers, there is no season too hot or too cold, too rainy or too snowy, for some serious book-inspired travel. (Although it does help that most bookish destinations are indoors, and coffee is usually somewhere to be found nearby.)
There are tons of destinations perfect for book-lovers, both across the United States and around the world. Whether you’re looking to hop in the car or book an international flight, bookish travel destinations aren’t hard to find — and now that you’ve worked your way through all of those summertime beach reads in your TBR pile, fall is the perfect time to head to some new bookstores, hit up a cultural landmark or two, and take on some totally bookish adventures. From Iowa City, Iowa to Paris, France — and plenty of literary destinations in between — you’ll love these book-inspired destinations in the fall.
The American Writers Museum
Located on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, The American Writers Museum is the first national museum of its kind — not only highlighting the richly diverse literary history of Chicago (think: Gwendolyn Brooks, Sandra Cisneros, Carl Sandburg, and Ernest Hemingway) but celebrating the entire history and future of the written word in America. Plus, when you’re done taking in every nook and cranny of this museum, Chicago has dozens of independent bookstores you won’t want to miss. Be sure to leave some room in your luggage.
Taking up 18 miles worth of New York City literary space, Strand Bookstore has been an evolving staple of both NYC and book lovers’ bucket lists since the 1890s. The East Village independent bookstore specializes in new, used, rare, and out-of-print titles (so basically everything) as well as offering tons of author readings and other literary events. It’s Disney World for book lovers.
Brattle Book Shop
Not only will you get to take in a gorgeous New England fall, the Boston, Massachusetts-located Brattle Bookshop features both indoor and outdoor shelf space — which means you can browse for books outdoors all afternoon. In addition to being one of the largest and oldest used bookstores in the United States — founded in 1825 — Brattle Book Shop’s unparalleled collection of rare and antiquarian books practically guarantees you’ll leave with something you can’t find anywhere else.
Prairie Lights Bookstore
Located in the same city that houses the famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop (so you know all the good books are here) Iowa City’s Prairie Lights Bookstore is one of my absolute favorite bookshops in the world — cozy and crowded, stocked with tons of local authors and national bestsellers, and featuring a can’t-miss calendar of author events. Plus, they’re located in the heart of Iowa City’s downtown, so once you stock up on books galore, you'll have about a dozen options for a coffee nook to read them in.
Asheville, North Carolina
There is literally nothing else like the Blue Ridge Mountains in the fall — add to that the fact the Asheville, North Carolina is home to some of the country’s best independent bookstores, all just blocks away from each other, and you’ve found your book lovers haven. Battery Park Book Exchange, Malaprop's Bookstore & Café, The Captain's Bookshelf, Firestorm Cafe & Books, Spellbound Children's Bookshop… the list goes on.
The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum
If you’re a lover of Ernest Hemingway then you know there are a number of locales you could visit in honor of the man behind classics like The Old Man and the Sea and A Moveable Feast: Chicago, Illinois; Paris, France; Cuba, Kenya, Idaho, and more. But this fall, why not head down to Key West, Florida to take in The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. Not only did Hemingway live and write in this home for more than ten years, it’s also rumored that every cat in Key West descends from Hemingway’s original feline friends. So, perfect for book lovers and cat lovers (and they’re often one-in-the-same, yes?)
Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter
This is a travel destination that book lovers will enjoy any time of year — but with the season settling down a bit after summer, fall is a great time to visit Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Wander through Hogwarts Castle, grab a butterbeer in Hogsmeade Village, ride the Hogwarts Express or take an adventure down Diagon Alley. You know this is what you’ve been dreaming about since you cracked open the first Harry Potter title, way back in 1998.
If Universal Studios didn’t satiate your Harry Potter appetite (and really, will anything?) you might need to venture just a little bit closer to the source: all the way to Edinburgh, Scotland, where the majority of J.K. Rowling’s storytelling came together. But in addition to being the place where Rowling wrote her wizarding tale, Edinburgh is also home to Edinburgh Castle, a Hogwarts-like attraction that will leave you feeling all kinds of magical.
Orkney Islands, Scotland
While still in Scotland, you might want to consider checking out the Orkney Islands — the remote, blustery, haunting place where author Mary Shelley traveled to finish Frankenstein in solitude. An archipelago in the Northern Isles, most of Orkney's 70 islands are uninhabited, making their stone carvings and sandstone cliffs particularly eerie. Stick around long enough, and you're bound to see Frankenstein’s monster barreling across the mist-covered mountains.
Sticking with the United Kingdom, Ashdown Forest is a gorgeous and playful destination for any bookworm who grew up dreaming of visiting Christopher Robin’s Hundred Acre Wood. Located in East Sussex, Ashdown Forest inspired the setting for A.A. Milne’s beloved children's books. The forest features two walks through Winnie the Pooh terrain: including sites like the Enchanted Place, the Heffalump trap, Christopher Robin's North Pole, and Eeyore’s Gloomy Place. Love it.
Shakespeare & Company
One last European destination you won’t want to miss come fall, the iconic Shakespeare & Company bookstore is nestled in a cozy corner of Paris, France — a city that authors like Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald once called home. An English-language bookshop tucked between the banks of the Seine and Notre-Dame, Shakespeare & Company first opened in Paris in 1919 and has expanded to a second location as well. The bookshop specializes second-hand and antiquarian books, and also serves as a free reading library open to the public.