5-Day Midwest Literature Tour

Day 1 You'll See:

Day 2 You’ll See:

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Day 5 You’ll See:

The Midwest is full of literary hidden gems, from Chicago's Ernest Hemingway Home to Mansfield's own Laura Ingalls Wilder House. Let us book this literary adventure for you today!


Ernest Hemingway Foundation - Ernest Hemingway is one of the most celebrated American authors of all time, a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who has passed such immediate classics as For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms, Old Man, and the Sea, and so many more. Located in Oak Park in Chicago you will find one of the most insightful spots on Hemingway in the nation, his birthplace and childhood home. The Ernest Hemingway Foundation puts on excellent tours of his birthplace and now a museum, the iconic spot holding irreplaceable photos, diaries, letters, and other memorabilia that give great insight on the early years of Hemingway's life.

Newbery Library - While in Chicago your group should make a point to stop at the Newberry Library, an independent research library dedicated to the humanities. This iconic library has been free and open to the public since 1887, the stately 5-story granite building seeing thousands upon thousands of guests each year. The world-renowned collection inside contains several rare books and manuscripts, and an ‘extensive non-circulating collection of rare maps, music, manuscripts, and other printed material spanning six centuries.’

Navy Pier Lunch - A Chicago landmark since its inception in 1916, the Navy Pier is a one-stop destination for excitement, exploration, and relaxation. With 50 acres of attractions extending out over Lake Michigan, this pier has something for everyone and then some. Amusement park rides, indoor gardens, shopping experiences, and various museums all await inside! But the Navy Pier isn’t just another amusement park boardwalk. Fine dining and boardwalk food range in styles from American classics at Harry Caray’s Tavern to Italian, Chinese, and elegant seafood.

Travel to Iowa City - 3.5 hours


University of Iowa - Iowa City is a golden literature spot to stop in the first place, the entire city named a Literature City by UNESCO in 2008, only the third to be titled so. One of the main reasons this city is named such is due to the incredible involvement of the University of Iowa, one of the most prestigious colleges in the state, especially when it comes to English. The English program here is home to 9ver 800 students, most involved in such nationally renowned programs as the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and International Writing Program. Each program consistently brings world-renowned writers to campus, both the writers and the students building their abilities to ‘think, read, and write critically about how literature and language’ affect both individuals and society.

Coral Ridge Mall - Eat, play, and shop at the nearby Coral Ridge Mall, located just 15 minutes from Iowa City. Some of the area’s absolute finest entertainment can be found within this enclosed super-regional shopping mall, with over 120 stores, a hefty handful of onsite eateries, a movie theater, and even an on-site ice skating rink. Open from 10 am to 9 pm most days, this shopping and entertainment destination will allow your group to split up for a couple hours and have a bit of fun, whether they want to shop till they drop, spend some quality time in the food court, catch a movie, or test their skills on the ice.

Travel to Hannibal - 2.5 hours

Becky Thatcher’s Diner - Step back in time at Becky Thatcher’s Diner, one of the most popular local eateries that ring true to the Mark Twain theme of the town through and through. Located on North Street, this 50’s themed diner serves breakfast and lunch ‘the old-fashioned way’, the way your grandmother made it! Enjoy burgers, tenderloins, malts, and shakes, plus all-day breakfast. There are fresh seasonal plate lunches, as well. Friendly servers, big servings, and a theme unique to any other local diner, this spot is truly a ‘must-see (and eat) experience in Hannibal’.

Haunted Hannibal Ghost Tour - End your night with a Haunted Hannibal Ghost Tour, a ‘spine-tingling guided tour of Hannibal’s most notoriously haunted sites, both past, and present.’ This tour is a step-on trolley tour, based on the number of people in your group (over 14, under 14 is a bus tour), and will fill you in on stories of murder and mischief in the time of Mark Twain’s boyhood. You will hear about the ghosts of Millionaire's Row, learn about the buildings on the historic Main street with alleged ghosts currently, and visit the Old Baptist Cemetery to walk through the Civil War graves. Yur group can also customize these tours to different themes, such as history, paranormal, children, or private.


Mark Twain Boyhood Home - This is where you can experience the Hannibal of Mark Twain’s childhood, rich with the details that inspired his beloved stories. Your self-guided tour takes you through eight properties, including Samuel Clemens’ boyhood home and two museums filled with artifacts and thrilling pieces from history. Some of these include Mark Twain’s Oxford gown and fifteen original Norman Rockwell paintings.

Mark Twain Cave - Though made famous by the writings of Samuel Clemens, the Mark Twain cave was discovered by a hunter named Jack Sims when his dog chased an animal into an opening in the cave. The rest is truly history as the cave became frequented by Clemens and featured in at least one of his novels. It is the oldest show cave in Missouri and has been featuring tours for over a century. On your tour, you’ll discover all sorts of its uses throughout history, including its role as a hiding place for Jesse James and in the famous Underground Railroad.

Travel to Kansas City - 3.5 hours

Union Station -  Though it no longer operates as it did with grand locomotives docking in the large, echoing marble corridors as it did in the times of literature’s greatest, Union Station now plays host to a number of museum exhibits, events, attractions, and continues to be an extravagant meeting place for people of all ages. Eat dinner at Pierpont’s here, a highly popular KC eatery featuring fine foods such as perfectly aged steaks and fresh seafood. While this spot is technically a bar, it is also just a great restaurant for your group, with plenty of history, great food, and a touch of elegance your students will love.  Before you leave, stop at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for a square of fudge for dessert, you won’t regret it!


Kansas City Public Library - Talk about a striking exterior design! We guarantee you won't miss this stop, the giant books outside beckoning your group right into its front doors! The Kansas City Public Library is one of the finest in all of Missouri, a library that serves over 1.7 million metro KC residents with its multitude of services and resources in general. Within the Central Library, your group will be able to enjoy browsing the books, catching any signature event happening, watching a film screening, exploring the current exhibits (local arts and culture plus local history), or dropping in on classes going on. There are also additional kid and teen features such as storytime, the Kids Cafe, and the Teen Gaming Club.

The Plaza - This upscale 55 acre, 15-block shopping district and exclusive neighborhood just south of downtown Kansas City tenders discerning visitors a perfect mix of high-end shops, mainstream retailers, cafes and dining establishments, fabulous accommodations and popular entertainment venues, named one of the World’s “60 best places” by Project for Public Spaces. There are dozens of cafes and restaurants to stop in for lunch in between shopping and fountain-ogling including The Cheesecake Factory, The Melting Pot, Noodles and Company, Jack Stack BBQ, Bucca de Beppo, McCormick’s and Schmick’s, Chaz on the Plaza, Panera Bread, and Starbucks.

Travel to Mansfield - 3.5 hours


Laura Ingalls Wilder House and Museum - Welcome to the historic Laura Ingalls Wilder House and Museum, an iconic literature and history hotspot located in Mansfield, Mo, just 45 minutes from Springfield. This is the spot ‘Where the Little House Books were Written’, the spot oftentimes also referred to as Rocky Ridge Farm. Laura Ingalls Wilder (and her family) lived on this property from 1896 until her death in 1951, the American Craftsman home built by Almanzo Wilder himself. The history and heritage held in this 9.9 acres are truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to have, over 30,000 yearly guests agreeing. Tour the home itself and see Laura’s study, writing desk, and day to day life memorabilia throughout.

Mansfield Cemetery - This will be a quick last stop for your group, the final resting place of the Wilder family. This local cemetery is still active for the community, so be sure to be quiet and respectful as you pay your respects to the family. Located behind the local Mansfield School, this cemetery holds several interest historic graves, but none more visited than the graves of Laura, Almanzo, and their daughter Rose. Though the cemetery is hard to navigate you will be able to find the well-marked graves in the center of a noticeable group of shrubbery.

Head home

Note** If your group is interested in extending your trip one more day consider a day in nearby Branson, a Midwest entertainment gem! Check out more information about Branson.