Few experiences are more grounding and powerful than stepping where the literary greats have stepped–standing in their writing spaces, looking out their windows, walking down their streets. Something about visiting the places they lived, worked, and played makes them–Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Poe, Twain, all of them–real. They were not ephemeral beings endlessly spritzed with the holy waters of infinite inspiration, ideas, and ability; they were real people with real relationships, real struggles, and real homes. 2017 has just begun. All twelve of its months stretch before us, waiting to be filled with plans, trips, work, vacations, and memories. Below are twelve destinations–one for each month–that can help you feel connected to some of your favorite writers.
1.In Richmond, Virginia, you can learn all kinds of fascinating information about Edgar Allan Poe, as well as view relics from his life, when you visit the Poe Museum in Shockoe Bottom. Admission ranges from $5 to $6. For no additional cost, you can schedule a guided tour, but perusing the museum’s buildings on your own is informative and interesting. The museum is housed in the oldest standing building in the city, which stood when Poe lived there in the 1800s.
3. Working your way just two or three hours north on I-95, you can learn more about Poe in Baltimore, Maryland, another city in which Poe lived, which features a Poe Museum. (You didn’t think they named their football team The Ravens for nothing, did you?)
4. Let’s continue our trek northward to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where can be found yet another site devoted to Poe. Here, you can find the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site.
5. Getting sick of dark romance and cold weather? I thought you might be. Let’s head south, then, to the tropical paradise of Key West, Florida, where you can tour the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. Admission ranges from $6 to $13.
6. Let’s linger in the sunshine state a little longer, and head north to Eatonville, where you can visit The Zora Neale Hurston Museum. If you’re here in January, you might also consider attending The Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities.
8. While in Concord, you might as well get a little transcendental and visit Walden Pond State Reservation. If you’re a Massachusetts resident, you can expect to pay an $8 parking fee. Out-of-staters pay $10 to park. There is only one parking lot, and it closes when it reaches capacity, so call 978-369-3254 before you go.
9. Yet another literary destination in Concord is the Concord Museum, where you can get started on Concord’s Thoreau Trail, which features several sites relevant to Henry David Thoreau’s life and works. You can also learn how to visit Ralph Waldo Emerson’s and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s homes.
Did you know…?
The Baltimore Ravens are named for Poe’s famous poem, “The Raven.”
10. While we’re already so far north, let’s hop across the border to Canada’s Prince Edward Island, where you can visit Green Gables, as featured in Lucy Maud Montgomery‘s Anne of Green Gables books, one of my favorite series when I was growing up.
11. Another childhood favorite for my siblings and me was the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. There are Wilder destinations around the country, including California, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
12. For our final destination, we will revisit the dark romantics–this time, William Faulkner, whose home, Rowan Oak , can be found in Oxford, Mississippi. Visitors can tour the grounds at no charge, and the house for a mere $5.
Well, what are you waiting for? Grab some maps, book some flights, and head to your first literary destination of 2017! Bon voyage!