Sightseeing Destinations to Satisfy Your Inner Bookworm

Posted by Danielle Mohlman

Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, Photo via Smart Desintations

Who needs the Grand Canyon?  In honor of National Tourist Appreciation Day on May 6th and National Tourism Day on May 7th, here are some sightseeing destinations to satisfy your inner bookworm.

Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House (Concord, MA)  The home of the author of Little Women is open for tours year round.  The house also offers educational programming for school groups and Girl Scouts.  Guides dressed in traditional 19th century garb share excerpts from the Alcotts’ journals and give students an opportunity to experience a lesson in a 19th century schoolroom.

Photo via Visit Philly

Edgar Allan Poe’s House (Philadelphia, PA)  A national historic landmark run by the National Parks Service, Poe rented this house in 1843 and is said to have lived there for less than a year.  While Poe lived in several houses in Philadelphia over the years, this home is the only one that remains in The City of Brotherly Love.  Admission is free and guided tours are available Wednesday through Sunday year-round.

If your Tell Tale Heart can’t get enough, there are three other preserved Poe homes in the United States: one in The Bronx, one in Baltimore, and one in Richmond.  Road trip, anyone?

Photo by Failing Angel (Flickr)

Ernest Hemingway’s Home (Key West, FL) This author home wins the award for snazziest website.  Chock full of history and lore, this website provides the perfect balance of education and tourism.  The home is regularly rented by romantic bibliophiles as a wedding venue.  The museum even has it’s own veterinarian.  Why?  Because the estate is home to 40 to 50 polydactyl (or, six-toed) cats.

Hemingway was a cat lover himself, though he never kept any at his Key West home during the last twenty years of his life.  If you’re looking to bookend your Hemingway experience, the author’s birthplace home in Oak Park, Illinois, is also open to the public.

Photo by Katie Kills (Flickr)

Flannery O’Connor’s Childhood Home (Savannah, GA)  One of the few museum homes that’s restored to the Depression-era, the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home boasts a rare-book library and a garden where six-year-old O’Connor cleverly taught a chicken to walk backwards.  In 2010, the museum hosted Pat Conroy’s announcement of the twenty finalists for the National Book Awards.  O’Connor posthumously won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1972.

The museum hosts a variety of free events throughout the year, including a Sunday lectur series which has featured Michael Cunningham, Allan Gurganus, and Jaimy Gordon.

Photo via WBUR (Flickr)

Edith Wharton’s Home (Lenox, MA) Not only a prolific writer, authoring over 40 books in 40 years, Edith Wharton was also an accomplished designer.  Wharton is credited as the designer of the home as well as the landscape and architecture.  A new exhibit titled “Edith Wharton: Construction at The Mount” opens in the museum this month.  There’s currently a project underway to restore Wharton’s bedroom suite, an important undertaking for the estate since that’s where Wharton did most of her writing.

Because no photographs of Wharton’s bedroom exist today, the design inspiration is partially drawn from Wharton and Ogden Codman’s ideas in The Decoration of Houses and partially from existing images of other Wharton interiors.

Emily Dickinson’s Home, Photo by Peppergrasss (Flickr)

Emily Dickinson’s Homestead (Amherst, MA) A relatively new member of the author home and museum family, the Emily Dickinson Museum was created in 2003 when The Homestead, Dickinson’s estate, and The Evergreens, the home of her brother Austin and his family, merged under the ownership of Amherst College.

A handful of years later, the museum has garnered a fair amount of attention for its national program of professional development workshops for K-12 teachers and its community outreach programs like rock concerts, poetry marathons, and the museum’s 19th century children’s circus.