Literary Travels

By Staff

<p>Ditch your books and head to where the writers drew inspiration for your next vacation.</p>

There are many roads and reasons to travel, but have you ever traveled to re-live the raucous lives of your favorite authors? Here are our favorite vacations inspired by some of the greatest writers of our time.

Fish for Marlin Like Ernest Hemingway

Many have traveled to Bimini to sport fish, but no one did it quite like Hemingway. The famed writer lived on the small Bahamas island for several seasons in the 1930s where he spent his time writing articles, working on the novel To Have and Have Not, and (probably more often than not) hitting the sea to trawl for marlin and big game fish. 

Life Imitates Art: We suggest staying at the Bimini Bay Resort and Marina. The luxury resort features great accommodations and will hook you up with all you need to bring home your big fish story.

Stay in the Estate that Inspired The Great Gatsby

Ever heard of a little story called The Great Gatsby? The book, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s luscious tale of extravagant excess, was remade into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio this year, so chances are even if you skipped it in high school, you know the drill: There’s a mysterious rich man, a lovely, quixotic woman named Daisy Buchanan, and a certain amount of partying.

Life Imitates Art: There are a few places Fitzgerald’s book drew inspiration from, but our favorite is the Oheka Castle, cited as the inspiration for Gatsby’s estate. While the Oheka has had its ups and downs, it’s now a ritzy (obviously) hotel catering to A-list wedding parties, and it offers weekday packages for Gatsby enthusiasts for $895 a couple. The package gets you lunch, champagne, access to the two Gold Coast Mansions and Prohibition drinks from the bar.

Shack Up in a Heart of Darkness Boat

While it may be difficult to get a reservation at A Room for London, it is definitely at the top of our list. Initially this art installation/hotel hybrid was only meant to stand for a year; the overwhelming response for bookings has it standing until sometime in 2014. The piece, an homage to the Roi des Belges sailed up the Congo River in Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness, lives atop the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. The two person boat-shaped room overlooks the river Thames and promises guests they won’t be bombarded with arrows. 

Life Imitates Art: While they are no longer taking reservations, you can always enter their ballot to be randomly selected for bookings. If all else fails, try your hand at roaming down the Congo River, but we wouldn’t advise that without a good travel guide.

Vacation to John Steinbeck’s Cottage

Photo courtesy: Dmitry Sumin. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

“I bought a small house and garden in Pacific Grove…” wrote John Steinbeck in an April 1941 letter published in A Life in Letters, and now too you can stay at his home away from home. 

Steinbeck lived in Pacific Grove for a few months before moving back to New York City and it has been beautifully preserved. There are not a lot of places you can actually rent out that have been inhabited by famous writers since most have been transformed into museums, so imagine our surprise when we saw John Steinbeck’s traveler’s cottage pop up on our Airbnb account. 

Life Imitates Art: Steinbeck's writer’s studio, located on the property, is also available for rent at extra cost. While in Pacific Grove, drive around and see some of the places around town he mentioned in his novel Cannery Row, like Ed Ricketts’ home, the lighthouse and the great tide pool. A driving tour has been curated by a Pacific Grove group and can be downloaded here.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Road Trip

Photo courtesy: Arup Malakar. (CC BY 2.0)

We’re big fans of Jack Kerouac and his coming-of-age road trip novel On the Road, but embarking with friends across America and stopping off for some existential “me time” in Big Sur is just so old hat. 

Life Imitates Art: If you’re really feeling adventurous, might we suggest a 17-day motorcycle journey from Minnesota to California? Retrace the story of Robert Pirsig and his son in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance with this handy guide we found online that pinpoints the exact places the two stopped throughout the novel.


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