By Myscha Theriault, McClatchy-Tribune News Service
9:25 AM EDT, September 10, 2012
If theme parks and golf getaways aren't in your travel budget this year, consider incorporating a bit of literary tourism into your next family vacation itinerary. It's easily incorporated into other agendas, and typically comes at an extremely affordable price point. Here are a handful of ways you can begin to explore the worlds of your favorite authors and books.
Homes: Hill Top, the historic farmhouse that was once home to famed children's author Beatrix Potter, is open to public visitation by fans of her work. Located in England's Lake District National Park, this time capsule of the author's life includes a children's garden trail and several rooms decorated with Potter's actual belongings. Entry tickets max out at a price of roughly $13 per adult, according the National Historic Trust's web site. Access is available by foot, train, bicycle and bus. Visitors to Atlanta may visit the Margaret Mitchell House, which is where she penned "Gone With the Wind." Tours are available daily, at a cost of $13. This same amount is also the entrance fee to Ernest Hemingway's former home in Key West, and includes a chance to interact with the descendants of his famous six-toed cat.
Hangouts: Hemingway also spent time in Petoskey, Mich., during his younger years, and recuperated from his war injuries there later on. Free walking tour maps are available at the Chamber of Commerce featuring many of his old hangouts, including Jesperson's Restaurant and Pie Shop where tourists can still sit on the author's favored counter stool and order a slice of home-baked goodness. A detailed exhibit of Ernest's connection to the state of Michigan can be viewed at the town's Little Traverse History Museum for an entrance fee of $3.
Festivals: Travelers who are interested in the craft of writing, or simply interacting with current popular writers can use literary festivals as a way to enjoy an intellectual getaway. These events typically include a variety of food vendors, making vacation dining a fraction of its normal cost. The destinations themselves provide additional activities and attractions to round out your vacation experience. For example, the Edinburgh International Book Festival in Scotland comes with access to the country's national museum, Edinburgh Castle and the various historical sites located along the city's famous Royal Mile.
Theriault is the best-selling co-author of the book "10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget," and founder of TrekHound.com, a website for independent travelers. She also founded TheLessonMachine.com, a website for teachers.