Top 10 [Spring Break] Trips for Book Worms

The month of March usually means Spring Break for anyone with a connection to a school. If you live in a location with an actual winter (like me), the cabin-fever month of February is finally over and you’re ready to get out of the house and explore. If you’re a book lover, add these locations to your spring/summer travel bucket list!

  1. Northern Michigan

Ernest Hemingway spent the summers of his boyhood in Petoskey, Michigan, and the Big Rapids area is home to Michigan “man of letters” and spinner of ghostly tales, Russell Kirk (as well as some great used book stores). And if, as a child, you fell in love with a spunky red-head named Anne (with an e), the historic and romantic Mackinac Island is about as close to the Prince Edward Island of the Edwardian era as you’re going to get!


9. Seattle, Washington

Coffee shops and lots of rainy days for indoor reading, what’s not to love? Seattle also has some amazing independent bookstores, such as the Elliot Bay Book Company.

  1. Salem to Amherst, Massachusetts

A road trip through New England is one of the best ways to appreciate America’s literary heritage. Start at Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthplace in Salem, MA (the colonial settlement famous for its witch trials in the 1690s) and then head west, making stops at the Louisa May Alcott house and Thoreau’s Walden Pond near Concord, before reaching the liberal arts college town of Amherst, home to the Emily Dickinson Museum.


  1. Estes Park, Colorado

Estes Park is really known for two things—Rocky Mountain National Park and The Stanley Hotel, a haunted Victorian resort that inspired Stephen King to write The Shining after he and his wife stayed there in 1974. So book a room, enjoy the mountain vistas, and prepare to write a bestseller!

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  1. Baltimore, Maryland

Walk streets traveled by one of America’s most eccentric writers and macabre poets, Edgar Allan Poe. Visit the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum and Poe’s grave in the city’s historic catacombs. Then grab a pint at the Annabel Lee Tavern before taking a trip across the Chesapeake Bay for a stay at the Alexander House Book Lover’s B&B.

  1. The Shire of Montana

Can’t afford a flight to the Middle Earth, New Zealand? Get your geek on and head to The Shire of Montana, a Tolkien lover’s guesthouse, instead!

  1. Portland, Oregon

Portland always ranks as one of the top cities for book lovers, and with book worm paradises such as Powell’s City of Books and a number of other independent book stores, it’s easy to see why. Once you’ve stocked up on reading material, head to the Oregon coast for a stay at the Sylvia Beach Hotel, a literary-themed hotel with rooms named after famous authors such as Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Mark Twain. The third floor of the hotel consists of a library and comfy reading area with ocean views.

  1. Hay-an-Wye, Wales

If you’re willing to travel further afield, take a trip to one of the world’s only “book villages” on the border of Wales and England. Hay-an-Wye is home to dozens of secondhand antiquarian book shops and hosts an annual writing festival for 10 days each May.

  1. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is like no other city in the United States. It’s history, rich atmosphere, and unique blend of cultures captivates the imagination, which is probably why so many writers—from Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner to Anne Rice and John Grisham—have spent time there and found inspiration. Visit Faulkner House Books in the heart of French Quarter before catching the St. Charles streetcar to the Garden District, where you can traverse streets lined with huge gnarled oaks and ornate Southern mansion—the lush setting of many of Anne Rice’s novels.

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  1. Edinburgh, Scotland & Oxford, England

Okay, this one is a tie, but if you’re heading all the way to the U.K., you might as well visit both places in one trip!

As the birthplace of Harry Potter and home to one of the largest literary festivals in the world, Edinburgh, Scotland should be at the top of every book lover’s travel list. In addition to being the city where J.K. Rowling wrote the bestselling children’s series of all time (seriously, Edinburgh is Hogwarts), grey-stoned and spooky Edinburgh can also claim Victorian writers Robert Louis Stevenson (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), as well as Historical fiction author Dorothy Dunnett. Start off with a walking tour at the Edinburgh Writer’s Museum and then stop for coffee and a slice of Banoffee pie at the famous Elephant House Café (always crowded and kind of a tourist trap, but if you’re a HP fan—THE BATHROOM!). The city fills up in August, but that’s also when the renown Edinburgh International Book Festival takes place.


After Edinburgh, catch a train down to Oxford, a university town home to one of the most famous writing groups in history—the Inklings. A pint at the Eagle and Child is a must, and C.S. Lewis’ home (the Kilns) and his final resting place at Holy Trinity Church are important pilgrimage stops for Narnia fans.


Courage: The Testing Point

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. ~ C.S. Lewis
One of my favorite scenes from The Hunger Games movie is the moment Katniss prepares to enter the tube that will carry her into the arena and the battle for her life. Jennifer Lawrence plays the part to perfection, giving us a Katniss who physically shakes with anticipation, but maintains her silent strength. The movie made me think a lot about courage–that essential virtue that, as C.S. Lewis says, forms the foundation for all the rest.


But what does it mean to have courage? And is it truly the quintessential virtue of a hero or heroine? I think so. When I envision all the characters I love and admire–from books and from real life–they almost always embody courage in one form or another. Virtue itself is often defined as those traits of moral excellence that enable one to live a “fully human life.”
That’s why courage is about more than being bold. Surely Katniss is that…but then again, so is Cato. Courage is not simply bravery, but the ability to maintain one’s humanity even in the most dire circumstances. The courageous person does not lack fear, but they do not act from a place where fear is the prime motivator. A heroine like Katniss embodies courage by siding with the weak and vulnerable, taking time to honor the grave of a fallen friend, and finding a “third way” among the oppressive Capitol’s limited choices of “kill or be killed.”

From courage, all the other virtues spring…compassion, prudence, justice. But what does courage mean to you? I’d be interested in hearing about other heroes from literature and history that people find courageous…