7 Vacation Destinations for Book Lovers

New Zealand Shire

January has come and gone, which means you’ve survived one month of 2014. Way to go, you! And depending on the severity of the arctic forecast in your area, you might be thinking of getting away. But where to go on your much-deserved vacation? After all, Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter won’t be open until this summer, so your sinister Borgin and Burkes souvenirs shall have to wait.

In the meantime, here are some tangible, go-to-able-now destinations with literary ties. You’d best book—ha!—your trips now:

The Shire of Montana

I solemnly swear this is a real thing. If New Zealand airfare is out of reach for your budget this year (an aside: why is the flight to Auckland not called Isildur’s Air? Call me Air New Zealand, I’m here all week), then aim a little lower—or geographically higher—and get thee to the Treasure State.

There are no children and no cellphones allowed at the 9 Hobbit Lane guest house in Trout Creek, Montana. There are, however, scenic vistas of the Cabinet Mountains and a certain familiar green door in this locale, which bills itself as the huckleberry capital of Montana. So there’s that, and also swank accommodations and a healthy dollop of whimsy. (The Shire of Montana not pictured above: that’s its New Zealand counterpart.)


You can dog—again, I crack myself up—the footsteps of the inestimable Sherlock Holmes here upon the moor. Be wary of footprints of any giant hounds (The Hound of the Baskervilles) and do pay attention to the curious incident of the dog in the night-time (The Adventure of Silver Blaze). (This also works for Mark Haddon fans.)

But Dartmoor has inspired more than just Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Characters trip over themselves to drop dead here. The moor’s mystic remoteness also served as a muse for Agatha Christie. It was in a local hotel that Christie completed The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and Dartmoor took center stage in The Sittaford Mystery. So there’s a lighthearted trip for all!

Sylvia Beach Hotel

If you measure accommodations by their narrative thread count, well, jackpot. This quaint, bookish hotel in Nye Beach, Oregon, has an author a room. The range of room themes is vast, running from classic authors—Shakespeare, Melville, Dickinson—to more modern writers—Rowling, Tan, Seuss. (For the record, it doesn’t appear that the Hemingway room features faucets that dispense daiquiris.) So stow your WiFi-enabled devices and peruse the works of the fine authors featured, either in your room or the library. Dibs on the Mark Twain room’s clawfoot tub!

For those traveling to the East Coast, see also: the Library Hotel in New York City, where your stay will be cataloged Dewey Decimal–style.

Narni, Italy

Heed not the unbelievers and lipstick-and-nylon-wearers: Narnia exists, and can be visited by means other than magic furniture. This ancient Italian town inspired the magical kingdom, or at least its name, of C.S. Lewis, who knew how to use a printed pseudo-GPS device called an atlas. You may not encounter any talking, spiritually authoritative lions, but Narni has the uber-old-churches market cornered and is positively teeming with architecture and tombstones from every historical era you could think of.

Alnwick Castle

Say what you will of the Postal Service, your letter from Hogwarts has probably not been misplaced. It is, in all likelihood, not coming. Before you start throwing things, though, you can still visit Hogwarts, and without a Universal Studios park pass! Alnwick Castle, in jolly old Northumberland, England, starred as everyone’s favorite School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (sorry Durmstrang) in the first two fluffy Potter films. And here, on its grounds, you can participate in broomstick training, with the bonus of no Rolanda Hooch looming over you.

Ashdown Forest

We were promised by A.A. Milne that a boy and his bear would always be playing together in the Hundred Acre Wood, and you have the opportunity do some sleuthing and verify this fact in East Sussex. Ashdown is the real-life pseudonym of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin’s nature playroom. There’s an admirably thorough walking trail that hits several Poohcentric highlights, including The Enchanted Place, the site of the Heffalump trap, and Eeyore’s Gloomy Place. Thanks for noticing it.

Kansas City Public Library

Because look at it. This is the closest feeling in reality to actually being The Pagemaster.

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