A New England Road Trip: Visiting America’s Great Authors

From children’s story time to timeless stories for kids and adults, New England has been the home of some of America’s greatest literary figures. A number of museums pay tribute to these authors by recreating their works and honoring their legacies. You can even get up-close-and-personal at the historic homes that inspired some of these authors.

On your road trip through New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut, your family will discover the creative spark that ignited the genius of some of America’s literary giants.

Get Curious

Indulge your curiosity at the Margret and H.A. Rey Center in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. The creators of cuddly monkey Curious George wanted to foster curiosity in their young readers through Curious George’s adventures, and the Center promotes that legacy.

Besides writing and illustrating children’s books, the Reys were interested in astronomy, photography, environmentalism, and cycling; among other curiosities. At the Center, your kids can participate in hands-on science educational programs, artistic workshops, and even astronomy programs that will engage and inspire them. Pop into a class by the center’s artist-in-residence, which changes every year to learn and create something new and memorable.

Bostonian Birthplaces

Get on the road for the two-hour drive to the Boston area, where many legendary American authors lived and wrote. Your first stop is Concord, a suburb about a half hour from Boston proper. It’s where legends Henry David Thoreau and Louisa May Alcott both spent significant time.

Give your kids an educational story time with Walden before visiting Walden Pond State Reservation in nearby Concord. Kids can splash in the pond, hike the trails, and even tour a replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin, where he gave birth to the book.

Little Women author Louisa May Alcott’s home will be a highlight for young fans of the book, though. Orchard House dates from the late 17th century and was home to the Alcott family when the author wrote her most famous book.

Although the family moved on in 1877, most of the furnishings belonged to the Alcotts and have been preserved, giving the setting an uncanny resemblance to descriptions in the book. Tours are available daily, year round, with the exception of a few holidays.

Making your way into Boston, be sure to stop at the Longfellow House - Washington’s Headquarters in Cambridge, where both poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and political predecessor George Washington once made their home.

Seasonal guided tours are free and give visitors insight into the intellectual life of the author and his family. Check out objects from his personal collection, or visit nearby Harvard Square – home of the ivy league university – to inspire your children to future brilliance.

After your very high-brow literary day, take shelter at Boston’s historic Omni Parker House, a hotel that was Charles Dickens’ New World home in the late 1800’s. The hotel has a family suite with bunk beds and activities for kids, but the highlight for them will be the milk and cookies before bed. Parents, though, need to try a Boston Cream Pie, created in the hotel’s very kitchen.

Back to Basics

Once the historical charm of Boston’s literary scene wears off, it might be time to head west. Ninety miles and a few good books on tape later, you’ll be in Springfield, the home of a poet every kid can quote: Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as “Dr. Seuss”. Stop by the illustrator and author’s house on Fairfield Street and take a walk around the neighborhood searching for his inspirations, like Mulberry Street.

Head to the Springfield Museums’ quad, where the Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden brings figures like The Grinch, The Cat in the Hat, and The Lorax to life. Kids can play with the figures of many generations of imagination and even listen to storytellers recount fanciful Seussian tales. And check out the town's new Seuss in Springfield Museum.

Stop for lunch in downtown Springfield before getting back on the road for the quick drive out of state.

American Quotemaster

Take the 30-minute drive to Hartford, Connecticut, where America’s favorite author spent some of the happiest years of his life. Samuel Clemens – known to most by his pen name Mark Twain – is still remembered in his hometown, where the Mark Twain House and Museum is dedicated to the author’s work and legacy.

Your kids are familiar with much of what he wrote here: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and that rabble-rousing Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court were all conceived and written in the Gothic, 25-bedroom estate. Tour the house, visit the museum, and check out exhibitions that shed light on the Victorian era in America.

Time your visit to coincide with a special event, like a live read with a Twain-inspired contemporary author, for a perfect visit. Young creatives can also participate in writing and playwriting workshops during the summer too, which lets the house inspire another generation of creative and self-sufficient thinkers.

Planning on a literary road trip with the family? Which authors’ hometowns will you be visiting? Share with us!

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