Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Group Tour magazine will continue to provide group travel inspiration. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information.
From poetry and prose to Southern Gothic and Romanticism, America has cultivated numerous literary legends who have put cities, sites and destinations on the map. These authors have touched readers with works highlighting themes like the American Dream, love and loss, loneliness and pacifism.
Preserving their legacies, original homes of these hallowed authors have opened their doors to visitors while museums house memorabilia cherished by the writers for groups to enjoy. Discover places that inspired best-selling novels and walk in rooms where beloved classics were written. Celebrate some of the many writers who helped America fall in love with characters like the March sisters, Rip Van Winkle, Huckleberry Finn and so many more.
Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House
In 1857, Louisa May Alcott’s father, Amos Alcott, bought 12 acres of land and a manor house that had been on the property since the 1660s. It was here that Louisa wrote and set her most popular work, Little Women, in 1868. Today, groups can take a guided tour of Orchard House and see 80% of the furnishings that were owned by the Alcott’s. In addition, see the shelf desk where Alcott wrote her classic novel.
Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home
Restored with Depression-era features, this Savannah location offers half an hour guided tours of the author Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home. O’Connor — known for her Southern Gothic works — was awarded with many honors both before and after her death. Visitors can view rare books in the Bruckheimer Library located in the house and walk out to the garden and discover the place where five-year-old O’Connor taught a chicken to walk backwards.
Washington Irving’s Sunnyside
Tarrytown, New York
At Washington Irving’s home, groups will tour this picturesque estate and learn how the Founding Father of American Literature became the nation’s first internationally famous author. Irving is known for creating well-known characters such as Rip Van Winkle and Ichabod Crane. This year, Sunnyside continues its 200th anniversary celebration of the publication of “The Legend of Sleepy Hallow” with special tours and events.
John Steinbeck sites
Salinas plays home to two sites honoring the life and legacy of author John Steinbeck. At the National Steinbeck Center, the main exhibit is organized geographically and highlights regions Steinbeck lived in, traveled to and wrote about. The Steinbeck House — the author’s childhood home — was turned into a restaurant in 1974. Groups can take a guided tour of the home to view family memorabilia before enjoying lunch.
Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library
Writer, veteran, pacifist, humanist, environmentalist and visual artist Kurt Vonnegut is honored at the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library. See some of Vonnegut’s intimate belongings, including his drawings and doodles, actual typewriter, family photos and Purple Heart. Browse through first editions of each of Vonnegut’s novels and numerous signed editions. Look over rejection letters the author received from editors.
The Mark Twain House & Museum
Mark Twain later described his years at this Hartford house as the happiest and most productive of his life. This elegant, Victorian-designed home includes 25 rooms throughout three floors, with some open for tours. See the lush conservatory, formal drawing room and billiard room — once Twain’s study and private domain. The second floor is home to the Nook Farm Café along with the Visitor’s Center. Special rates apply for groups of 10 or more.
Devil in the White City Tours
The Devil in the White City is a historical nonfiction book by Erik Larson telling the story of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago alongside the story of infamous serial killer H. H. Holmes. Take a tour around Chicago and visit locations mentioned in the 2003 book. See the site of the Ferris Wheel, stop by Jackson Park, gaze at the historic Keith Mansion and visit the Museum of Science and Industry.
The Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum
Open to the public Thursdays through Sundays, this brick townhouse was once home to acclaimed writer, poet and literary critic Edgar Allan Poe. The National Historic Landmark allows visitors to walk the same floors and wander the same plaster wall rooms Poe did in the 1830s. See exhibits highlighting Poe’s life and death, then view artifacts like Poe’s portable writing desk and chair and china used by Poe and the Allan family.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes
De Smet, South Dakota
Relive Laura Ingalls Wilder’s journey by visiting four buildings documented in the Little House on the Prairie book series. Visit the Surveyor’s House where the Ingalls family lived during the winter of 1879. See the Brewsters School where Laura taught at 16 years old. One mile southeast of De Smet lies the Charles “Pa” Ingalls Homestead, still home to five cottonwood trees Charles planted for his wife Caroline and four daughters.
Anatomy of a Murder Tour
John D. Voelker wrote his 1958 bestseller Anatomy of a Murder based on a true story of his experience as a defense attorney. The courtroom drama was quickly made into the 1959 film and starred Jimmy Stewart. Tour the Marquette region to see filming sites like the Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library, Marquette County Courthouse and Butler Theatre — one of the venues for the world premiere of the film.