Skip To Content

    26 Literary Landmarks In America To Visit Before You Die

    Literary landmarks abound from sea to shining sea.

    Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

    From museums and historic homes to out-of-the-way bookstores and bars, your literary-themed summer roadtrip just got easier to plan.

    The Northeast:

    Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

    Retrace Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" in the town that provided the setting for the classic tale, and visit Irving's resting place in the Sleepy Hallow cemetery. Stay for ghostly tour.

    Henry David Thoreau's Maine

    Sean Murphy / CC by ND http://2.0 / Via Flickr: spm435

    You may be familiar with Henry David Thoreau's Walden, but but did you know he also wrote about his journeys in Maine? Use his book The Maine Woods as your guide to exploring the natural wonders the Pine Tree State has to offer, such as the Penobscot River.

    The Emily Dickinson Museum

    Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism / CC BY-ND / Via Flickr: masstravel

    Spend time in the world of Emily Dickinson in Amherst, Massachusetts, whether by touring her home or by taking an audio tour of the outdoor grounds and learn more about the inspiration behind her poems.

    The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

    Amy Gizienski / CC by http://2.0 / Via Flickr: agizienski

    While you're in the town of Amherst, take a trip down memory lane and celebrate the author and illustrator behind childhood favorites like The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

    Schlesinger Library

    InSapphoWeTrust / CC BY-SA / Via Flickr: skinnylawyer

    June Jordan and Adrienne Rich are only two of the many women whose works are archived in the Schlesinger Library within the Radcliffe Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    The Seaman's Bethel

    LEONARDO DASILVA / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: leonardodasilva

    Serving as a the inspiration for the Whaleman's Chapel described in Herman Melville's Moby Dick, the Seaman's Bethel in New Bedford, Massachusetts added the prow-shaped pulpit, which was inspired by Melville's work, and the subsequent film adaption.

    The Mark Twain House & Museum

    John Hoey / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: drjohn01702

    Mark Twain raised his family and worked on his most beloved classics, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, while living in this Hartford, Connecticut mansion. Take a tour and learn more about Twain's life from the rotating exhibitions.

    The Midwest:

    Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

    If you ever wanted to type on the same model of typewriter Kurt Vonnegut used, you'll have your chance at the memorial library in Indianapolis, Indiana.

    Kansas City Public Library

    Dean Hochman / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: deanhochman

    The Kansas City Public Library in Missouri may be the most Instagram-worthy library of them all with its towering facade of literary classics.

    Ernest Hemingway's Birthplace & Museum

    Teemu008 / CC BY-SA http://2.0 / Via Flickr: teemu08

    Not only can you visit the home where Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, but if you visit during the weekend of July 17th, you can participate in his birthday bash and the Hemingway 8K Running of the Bulls.

    Ingalls Homestead

    designatednaphour / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: dragonflyajt

    While you can't quite live in your own house on the prairie at the Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, South Dakota, you can camp on the grounds and pretend you're Laura Ingalls Wilder for a night.

    Iowa City, Iowa is the only American city to be named a City of Literature by the United Nation Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Home to the Iowa Writers Workshop, take a literary tour of the city and make sure to visit the Prairie Lights Bookstore.

    The West:

    Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

    Jack London State Historical Park

    Tyler Howarth / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: tylerhowarth

    Jack London's Beauty Ranch in Glen Ellen, California not only includes the cottage where he wrote many of his stories; it also includes the land where London worked on sustainable farming.

    Powell's City of Books

    Chris Booth / CC BY-SA http://2.0 / Via Flickr: monkeypuzzle

    Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon, has over one million books for sale. Need we say more?

    My Brother's Bar

    A favored haunt of Beat writers like Jack Keruoac and Neal Cassady in Denver, Colorado, My Brother's Bar doesn't have a sign. But once inside, you can request a photocopied letter of Cassady's sent to the bar while he was in the Colorado Reformatory.

    The Mabel Dodge Luhan House

    Marissa Bracke / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: marissabracke

    While the name Mabel Dodge Luhan may not sound familiar, she acted as a host of literary and artistic salons and welcomed authors like Aldous Huxley and D.H. Lawrence as guests in her Taos, New Mexico home. You can even spend the night in the same room that Willa Cather stayed in.

    Singing Wind Bookshop

    Greg Ward / Getty Images

    Located in Benson, Arizona, the Singing Wind Bookshop is on an actual ranch. Along with a wide selection of books on the Southwest, you can purchase beef directly from the owners.

    The South:

    Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

    Folger Shakespeare Library

    NCinDC / CC BY-ND http://2.0 / Via Flickr: ncindc

    You don't need to go across the pond to view Shakespeare's First Folio. View early editions of Shakespeare's plays and other classic works in Washington, DC.

    Alice Walker Literary Society

    Matt Phillips / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: discarnate

    Housed within Emory University's Woodruff Library, you can view Alice Walker's papers by request. The archive is part of the larger Alice Walker Literary Society, which hosts events and sponsors research center on the author.

    Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home

    David McSpadden / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: familyclan

    Visit the Savannah, Georgia house where Flannery O'Connor spent her formative years and learn more about her mischievous childhood.

    Carousel Bar & Lounge at the Hotel Monteleone

    Dan Silvers CC BY / Via Flickr: dansilvers

    Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner are just two of the literary wonders who frequented the Hotel Monteleone, which has been designated an official literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association. The revolving Carousel Bar is featured in Hemingway's short story "The Night Before Battle."

    Visit the boyhood home of Alex Haley in Henning Tennessee. Following in the tradition of Haley's Roots, the museum hosts genealogy sessions for visitors.

    Monroe Country Old Courthouse Museum

    Andrea Wright / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: alwright1

    While you can't visit the fictional Maycomb of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, you can tour the restored Monroeville, Alabama courthouse Lee sat in as child.

    Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin

    bill_comstock / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: comstock

    Go back to college in Austin, Texas and get an up-close look at the archives of Walt Whitman, James Joyce, Evelyn Waugh, Gabriel García Márquez, and many more. Just make sure to contact the archive to check for availability first!

    Alaska and Hawaii:

    Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

    McCandless Bus

    Erikhalfacre / CC BY-SA http://3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

    Near Healy, Alaska, you can hike the difficult, and even dangerous, Stampede Trail to the McCandless bus, the end point of Into the Wild, which chronicled Christopher McCandless' hitchhiking journey that ended in his death. If you'd rather skip the hike, you can always visit the 49th State Brewing Company, where you'll find the replica of the bus built for the film.

    Kona Stories

    brewbooks / CC BY-SA http://2.0 / Via Flickr: brewbooks

    Specializing in Hawaiian literature, Kona Stories is an important stop on your way back from the beach in Hawaii.

    Which literary landmarks would you include on your road trip? Let us know in the comments below!

    Want great book recommendations in your inbox every week? Sign up for the BuzzFeed Books newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form