We've had a couple other blogs on the significance of American literary attractions, from Hemingway's home in Key West to Mark Twain's birthplace in Missouri, but none that fully capture the attractiveness of such places. Literature is a beautiful thing, and Americans have proven themselves equal to the prowess of the more practiced English (they did name the language, after all). Writing can encapsulate the full range of emotion and the right string of letters and symbols can survive millennia, continuing to work miracles well after the author has passed. Needless to say, I adore literature, and many of you probably do too, which is why we've compiled a list of educational trips for student groups focused on American literature. Enjoy!
- Jack London State Historic Park - Glen Ellen, CA - When one thinks of Jack London, one often recalls images of wolves and the wide wilderness of Western America. His self-named State Historic Park showcases at least half of that image, as you hike the interpretive historic trail around the London property and learn about his life through nature. You will witness more than just personal possessions but see experimental sustainable farming techniques, historic buildings, ruins of a 19th century winery, a 2,000 year old redwood tree, as well as an established museum in Jack London's honor. Though he lived and wrote in a small cottage, the Happy Walls Museum is a large home overflowing with the spoils of a life well lived.
- Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site - Huntington Station, NY - Recognized by many as the great American poet of the 19th century, Walt Whitman's birthplace was established to preserve what would be lost. With increased exposure in the past few years, the Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site has grown in popularity and welcomes thousands of visitors every year. The house is a lovely wooden shingle siding home, ringed with lilac bushes and shaded trees, filled with the life of a genius. The Historic Site supports contemporary poetic efforts and appoints annual Champions of Literacy, Poets in Residence, Long Island Poets of the Year awards, and more.
- Washington Irving's Sunnyside - Pocantico Hills, NY -
Set on the stunning Hudson River, Sunnyside estate is an enchanting Victorian beauty with Old World charm. Author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Irving's name carries with him a bit of prestige, and Sunnyside matches perfectly. Arrive and be lead through time by a costumed guide and learn that the house began as a simple cottage and expanded to resemble Irving's inimitable vision. Beautiful gardens, authentic restorations, period furniture and many of Irving's own possessions including his desk and many of his books, are but a few things one might enjoy on a trip to the Sunnyside.
- Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site - Flat Rock, NC - Pulitzer Prize winning poet and author, Carl Sandburg was the voice of a generation hailing from rural North Carolina. His home, too, reflects his personality. Your group will explore how Sandburg lived, on his farm and in his professional life, through a beautifully preserved house to the nature trails well-worn by Sandburg's feet, and meeting the goats on his farm. You can enjoy the guided house tour, visit the barn, observe a fascinating visual interview, hike through the forests and trails, and then finish off your visit with the bookstore.
- L. Frank Baum House and All Things Oz Museum - Syracuse, NY - Double jackpot, you get to visit the home of the author and the museum All Things Oz, lauding the genius and imagination of L. Frank Baum. The Baum-Neal House memorializes the home where Baum met his wife Maud Gage and where he wrote the infamous series of Oz books. The museum, on the other hand, literally does talk about all things Oz from the writing of the books to the movie (with autographed pictures of Judy Garland and other cast members), set decorations, collectibles, and more! It's a ton of fun exploring this small museum's packed shelves, full of inspiring fantasy.
- The Beat Museum - San Francisco - Founded on the inspiration of the beatnicks, San Francisco's Beat Museum continues to elucidate the individuality and courage of this generation of writers. Kerouac is perhaps most famous among them, though the museum is not limited to only his influence. Bob Dylan is represented through handwritten lyrical notebooks, as well as Neal Cassidy, Charles Bukowski, and many others.
- The Steinbeck House - Salinas, CA - Author of The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck was incredibly influential and significant to the world of American literature. The beautiful Victorian home officially became a part of Steinbeck history when his family moved there in 1900, though today it's used quite differently. The house has been preserved as the historic birthplace of the great author, and is also a popular destination for a luncheon. The Valley Guild, who own the home, also run a gourmet kitchen and restaurant in the historic landmark. Come by with your group and you can tour the personal possessions of the Steinbeck family, learn about the author, and then sit down for some tea and lemon bundt cake.