Any reader will tell you that the best escape comes in the form of a book, but we think there’s something even better than escaping through the pages of an exciting novel: a book-themed vacation.
The book-themed vacations on this list are some of the best places in the world for book lovers. Some, like Amelia Island, Florida, are recommended for their beautiful settings and famed book festivals, while others like Newport, Oregon are suggested as great places to escape for long reading sessions. But every spot on this list has been carefully chosen with budget in mind. These are the 30 best budget vacations for book lovers for 2017.
Amelia Island, Florida
Literary festivals combined with a beautiful setting makes for the best kind of vacation for book lovers. And that’s definitely the case with Amelia Island, Florida, which hosts one of the nation’s best literary festivals every February. Bibliophiles, best-selling authors, and industry pros all flock to this island located just north of Jacksonville for events that include sales, signings, panel discussions, big announcements, workshops, and just about any other book-related activity you can think of. And when the festival is over, visitors will love Amelia Island’s quaint historic district, white-sand beaches, and first-class restaurants.
There is a ton to do in Austin, but for book lovers, a trip to Austin’s BookPeople is like a vacation in itself. You can spend hours at a time in this two-story book lover’s paradise, which has been voted the best bookstore in Austin for more than 15 consecutive years. Austin hosts dozens of events annually, but if you can, time your trip to Austin with the Texas Book Festival, where you’ll be able to peruse the latest releases from top publishing companies and even rub elbows with your favorite best-selling authors.
The Berkshires, Massachusetts
While most people come here for things like history and hiking, book lovers will find plenty more to do in The Berkshires. The surrounding area is full of homes of famous authors, including Edith Wharton, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, W.E.B. Dubois, and even some modern-day writers like Mary Pope Osborn and Ruth Reichl. And since there is seemingly a bookstore on every corner, it’s a great place to pick up a new book and spend the day reading while surrounded by stunning nature.
Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Prince Edward Island is the perfect road-trip destination for any book lover who has loved Anne of Green Gables. This whole region is stunning, but you’ll likely want to head straight for Cavendish, home to the real Green Gables. Here, you’ll see Lovers Lane and the Haunted Wood that are described so memorably in the book, plus Avonlea Village, a recreated rural community based on the village in which Anne lived. Nearby towns of Charlottetown, Silver Bush, Borden-Carleton, and Gateway Village all have their own fair share of Anne of Green Gables sites as well.
Wineries, horse farms, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello are reason enough to visit beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia, but we can think of another big reason — books! Book lovers will love all of Charlottesville’s book-themed events and activities, such as the Virginia Festival of the Book, an annual event that includes exhibits, author readings, panel discussions, and so much more. While you’re in town, be sure to stop in at Daedalus Bookshop, where you can pick up reasonably priced used books in just about any genre and sub-genre you can think of.
The small town of Chelsea, Michigan is home to the one-of-a-kind Midwest Literary Walk. Every April, book lovers from all over the country descend upon Chelsea to hear authors from all genres read from their work in a variety of unique and interesting settings. You’ll traipse through the town’s quaint historic district on your way to places like the Purple Rose Theater, the Chelsea Train Depot, and the Chelsea District Library to hear public readings, take part in discussions with fellow bibliophiles, and even meet some of your favorite authors.
For book lovers who can’t get enough of 19th century American writers like Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, a trip to Concord, Massachusetts is a must. The Ralph Waldo Emerson House, The Orchard House (where Alcott wrote Little Women), and The Olde Manse (home to both Emerson and Hawthorne at different points) are all open to the public and make for interesting glimpses into the lives of these authors. And don’t leave town without making your way to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery’s “author’s ridge,” a peaceful corner where Alcott, Thoreau, Emerson, and Hawthorne are all buried.
Book lovers wishing they could escape into their favorite Southern Gothic can’t go wrong with a visit to Covington, Georgia. While there, stay at the Twelve Oaks Bed & Breakfast, a stately Southern plantation house that is said to have been the inspiration for Twelve Oaks of Gone With the Wind Fame. Between bouts of sipping sweet tea on the wrap-around porch, you can make day trips to other local literary sites, like the Margaret Mitchell House in nearby Atlanta, or the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil sites in Savannah.
Want the inside scoop on the latest in the book industry? Then take a trip to the small town of Decatur, Georgia come Labor Day weekend, when the town hosts the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution’s Decatur Book Festival. You’ll be joined by bibliophiles from all over the country who are there to get the latest from more than 600 publishing industry insiders and authors. There are always a wide variety of events and speakers, and past featured authors have included Erica Jong, Roxane Gay, Samuel R. Delaney, Damon Tweedy, and Amy Stewart, among dozens of others. Best of all, the whole festival is free, making it a great budget vacation for book lovers!
The Irish capital has a certain bookish vibe that will make book lovers feel right at home. Start at Trinity College, where you can take a peak at The Book of Kells, one of the best-preserved illuminated manuscripts still in existence. Then wander through the college’s Long Room, a stunning collection of books that will make any library lover salivate. The Dublin Writers’ Museum, statues of the Dublin-born Oscar Wilde, The National Library, and the James Joyce Centre are other worthy stops for book lovers. Speaking of James Joyce, Ulysses fans won’t want to miss Dublin in June, when hundreds of Joyce fans wander through the city dressed in period costume.
Like its neighbors Dublin and London, both of which also make our list, Edinburgh is a great destination that is totally accessible, even for those on a budget. Besides being totally charming and picturesque, Edinburgh is the unofficial literary capital of the United Kingdom, and rightfully so. J.K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book at an Edinburgh cafe (they proudly display their part in Harry Potter history via a big banner), and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born here. If you can, time your trip to Edinburgh so that it coincides with the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
Elmira, New York
Elmira, New York is “Mark Twain Country!” At least, that is how this town advertises itself, and rightfully so. Twain and his family spent summers at Quarry Farm, a gorgeous piece of property that fans can still visit. Near the farm is Elmira College and the Mark Twain Study, a small octagonal building that has been named the #1 literary attraction in the U.S. It was here that Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Life on the Mississippi, and dozens of other articles, essays, and short stories. End your visit to Elmira with a trip to Woodlawn Cemetery, where Twain and his family are buried.
For fans of Stephanie Meyers’s Twilight book series, the real-life town of Forks, Washington is a must-see. Here, fans can tour the places featured in both the books and movies, including the Cullen House and Forks High School among others. For more sites associated with the series, nearby Port Townsend also has a few Twilight-themed attractions.
Yet another acclaimed literary festival that makes for a great excuse for a book lover’s vacation is the Gaithersburg Book Festival in Maryland. Each year, hundreds of award-winning and best-selling authors, poets, and songwriters — plus lots of us who just love to read! — come to Gaithersburg to celebrate books and the way they “enrich the human experience.” Since the festival takes place in the park-like Olde Towne Gaithersburg, visitors will love strolling from author readings, to book signings, to sales, to special exhibitions, and just about any other book-themed event one can think of.
Mark Twain was quite the nomad, and literary sites associated with the famous writer can be found all over the country. But one of the best vacation destinations for book lovers has to be Hannibal, where bibliophiles and Twain fans will find the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum. For the coolest experience, try to time your visit with one of the museum’s many events. Also in town is the Mark Twain Cave, the Mark Twain Riverboat, and a number of old-fashioned shows that feature Twain “himself.” Spend a little time in Hannibal, and you’ll be sure to take on a whole new understanding of classics like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Iowa City, Iowa
Iowa City is only the third city in the world, and the first in the United States, to be named a UNESCO City of Literature. A true book-loving place, Iowa City hosts the annual Iowa Summer Writing Festival, to which writers professional and amateur come from all over the world to gain instruction and peer support. Not a writer? That’s okay. Book lovers will enjoy popping into some of Iowa City’s favorite bookshops like Prairie Lights Books, The Haunted Bookshop, and Murphy-Brookfield Books to pick up the latest titles. And don’t forget to grab a drink and some good conversation at Donnelly’s Bar, where Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Robert Lowell, John Berryman, John Irving, and Dylan Thomas all spent a fair bit of time.
Key West, Florida
While it’s true that for most people that Key West is all about white-sand beaches and umbrella drinks, this beautiful place also happens to be a perennial tribute to one-time Key West resident Ernest Hemingway. Book-loving visitors can visit the Hemingway Home & Museum, where many of his most famous novels and short stories were written. While wandering, keep your eyes peeled for some of the 40-50 six-toed cats that descend from Hemingway’s beloved Snowball and now call the Keys home.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Book lovers won’t want to miss Little Rock in April, when the city hosts The Arkansas Literary Festival, one of the country’s premiere events for readers and writers. Over the course of four days, book lovers can take part in a variety of workshops, listen in on author panels, attend book signings, and even buy the newest books from their favorite authors. The list of participating authors is always impressive, and past festivals have included Charlaine Harris, Ree Drummond (the Pioneer Woman), David Sedaris, Catherine Coulter, and Richard Ford, among others. Interestingly, the festival also includes a Banned Books event, during which banned books are read on stage by both local and professional actors.
With the American Dollar getting stronger by the day, a destination like London has never been more accessible. In this great city, book lovers can visit the British Library to see original copies of some of the oldest books and manuscripts in the world, including a Gutenberg Bible, one of four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, and early editions of Alice in Wonderland and Pride and Prejudice, among many others. After seeing the works, visit the authors’ graves at Westminster Abbey. In this grand cathedral’s “Poet’s Corner” are the final resting places of some of Britain’s most beloved authors, including Lewis Carroll and Charles Dickens, among others.
Los Cabos, Mexico
This easily accessible destination on the coast of Mexico has hotel and restaurant options for every budget, but for book lovers, we can only recommend the Rosewood Las Ventanas al Paraiso. Overlooking the stunning Sea of Cortez, the Rosewood is a great place to curl up poolside with a good book. Best of all, the hotel has teamed up with various publishing houses to allow hotel guests to read advance copies of books from bestselling authors. If you time your trip right, you may even find yourself in the pool chair next to your favorite author, or able to take part in a hotel-sponsored meet and greet with writers from all genres.
Mansfield, Missouri, the one-time home of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family, is the perfect budget vacation for the book-loving family. Start your trip at the Laura Ingalls Wilder / Rose Wilder Lane Historic Home and Museum, where you’ll see hundreds of artifacts from more than 100 years of the Ingalls and Wilder pioneer families. Pa’s fiddle, the handwritten manuscripts of the Little House books, various keepsakes, Almanzo’s homemade tools, Laura’s needlework — it’s all here. If possible, try to time your trip so that it lines up with Wilder Days, Mansfield’s annual festival that includes costumes, presentations, and a fiddling contest.
Because folks here are often larger than life, we just had to include New Orleans, the most larger-than-life place we can think of! Book lovers visiting New Orleans can trek to former homes of William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams, the building that once housed the company that published the works of Charles Bukowski, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, among many others. Come dinner time, enjoy Antione’s Restaurant, the setting for the classic murder mystery Dinner at Antione’s, then spend the next day day-tripping to the bayou to visit Hotel Monteleone, where authors like Hemingway, John Grisham, and Anne Rice have all spent time writing.
Newport, Oregon has long been a go-to beach destination for West Coast families, but it is also a great option for book lovers. Escape to the Sylvia Beach Hotel and book an author-themed room overlooking the water. Each room is wonderfully decorated in a different author theme (we love the J.K. Rowling and Agatha Christie rooms!), and many are ocean front or come with ocean views. The hotel does not include any Wi-Fi and electronic items are frowned upon, making it the perfect place to spend a long weekend immersed in the wonderful act of reading.
A must for any literary pilgrim is Oxford, Mississippi. Most of the 25,000 book lovers who make their way to Oxford each year are fans of William Faulkner, whose beautiful mansion, Rowan Oak, was home to the Nobel Prize-winning author for nearly half a century. Another Oxford must-visit is Square Books, an independent book store best known for its impressive selection of books on the American South. And while you’re in Oxford, be sure to keep your eyes peeled. Just like visitors to Hollywood stay on the look out for movie stars, visitors to Oxford hope to run into some of their favorite authors. In recent years, Oxford has been home to John Grisham, Jesmyn Ward, Steve Yarbrough, Richard Ford, Donna Tartt, Willie Morris, and Larry Brown, among others.
As a hub for European travel, it’s easy to find budget-friendly flights into Paris. Once you’re there, it is easy to see why the City of Lights has long attracted writers and artists like Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Anais Nin, Henry Miller, and dozens of others. Grab a book at the famous Shakespeare & Company, then wander along the Seine until you find the perfect cafe at which to sit and read. Before you leave, be sure to visit Cimetière du Père Lachaise, where Oscar Wilde and Colette, along with so many others, are resting for eternity.
Salem, Massachusetts, with its quaint historic vibe and community-wide dedication to literature, makes for a perfect budget vacation for book lovers. Start your trip to Salem at the House of Seven Gables, the very place that inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel of the same name. Now a National Historic Landmark, this beautiful home set on 2.5 acres is now a fascinating museum. Once you’re done, spend some time exploring Salem’s many one-of-a-kind bookstores and libraries. We think the Salem Athenaeum is especially impressive thanks to its 50,000-strong collection of 18th, 19th, and 20th century literature.
Between the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, Seattle is every bit worth visiting. But book lovers will find Seattle especially interesting because of Book-It Repertory Theatre. Founded more than 25 years ago, this one-of-a-kind theater company aims to “transform great literature into great theatre through simple and sensitive production and to inspire its audiences to read.” The theater presents performances of both classics and more modern titles, and past productions have included works by Jane Austen, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, Don Quixote, Chris Cleave’s Little Bee, and many more.
Trout Creek, Montana
A budget vacation isn’t likely to include a trip to New Zealand, but don’t worry Tolkien fans, we’ve found the next best thing. Located in Trout Creek, Montana — the self-proclaimed huckleberry capital of the world — is 9 Hobbit Lane, a whimsical hobbit village that’ll leave you giddy. Be sure to bring your Lord of the Rings trilogy; since there are no children or cellphones allowed here, you’ll have plenty of time to get some reading in.
Twin Cities, Minnesota
Minneapolis and St. Paul are chock-full of fun literary sites, including dozens of independent bookstores and small publishing houses that are sure to make any book lover feel right at home. Between negotiating a book sale at Magers and Quinn Booksellers and a walking tour of the area where F. Scott Fitzgerald grew up, we suggest spending the night (and maybe even a few days) at The Commons Hotel in Minneapolis. This stunning hotel features a well-stocked library, and even has a Book Butler that will bring a book to your room if you’re just interested in spending the day in bed reading.
While most people head to Washington, D.C. for the politics and the history, the nation’s capital has a lot to offer book lovers — and most of it is free! Situated just behind the Capitol is The Library of Congress, an unbelievable collection of books, rare papers, and manuscripts. The collection began thanks to a generous donation by Thomas Jefferson, and today includes a rare Shakespeare’s First Folio (plus a number of other early editions by the Bard), a Gutenberg Press, and myriad other first editions and rare copies.