Did you know that you can easily introduce your kids to different cultures from all over the world? You can do this by reading books and watching movies. But what will make the story truly memorable is visiting the locations where the books take place. Though some parents do not think about literary destinations as a vacation spot, we discovered they are well worth exploring. In fact, we liked some places so much that we’ve put together some of our favorite literary destinations. We hope our list will inspire you to start planning your next family vacation.
Tintin – Brussels, Belgium
Tintin and his dog Snowy have captured children’s attention through their adventures for decades. This comic strip made its debut in 1929. Since then, it has been featured on the radio, in the theater, on television, and in movies.
Visitors to Belguim can explore the Hergé Museum just outside Brussels. The museum highlights the work of Georges Remi, who also went by the pen name of Hergé. Kids will get a kick out of seeing Herge’s original illustrations and the various souvenirs he collected. Not to be missed are the 33 murals spread around Brussels that visitors can gawk at free of charge.
Harry Potter – London, England
While touring London, England, the Harry Potter tour at Warner Bros Studios is a must-stop excursion that your entire family will love. Harry Potter, the boy wizard, became a household name for kids and adults worldwide after JK Rowlings first introduced him back in 1997.
While at Warner’s visitors can see the actual sets used in the movies, as well as authentic costumes. And those who want to feel even closer to the story should try the Butterbeer sold at the various stalls.Our own kids couldn’t get enough.
Eloise – New York City, New York
Eloise is a six-year-old girl, who lives at the Plaza Hotel “in a room on the Tippy-top floor” in her books and movie. The Plaza Hotel has a whole suite that is pink, to honor Eloise. Hotel guests can book the suite and watch the excitement in their children’s eyes when they see it is filled with her books and toys. Children are welcomed by pink cookies, get an Eloise bathrobe and even participate in afternoon tea.
It is worth mentioning that The Plaza Hotel also has other book and movie credits to its name. In The Great Gatsby, Tom admits his love for Daisy Gatsby while in The Princess Diaries it is mentioned as where Mia’s grand-mere stays.
Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum – Hannibal, Missouri
Samuel Langhorne Clemens also known as Mark Twain has provided readers with books such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain lived in this particular home from 1844 to 1853. The Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home helps to bring to life his stories and even hosts a unique program with young actors portraying Tom and Becky. Our sons were fascinated by the displays that explained where Twain got his ideas from.
Also, the Museum houses the second most extensive Norman Rockwell painting collection, a jewelry box that he had made for his wife, as well as the original books that he wrote.
Heidi – Heidi Village, Switzerland
With about 20 different film versions of Heidi, this childhood classic is perfect for all families and children. For those who don’t know, Heidi is an orphaned child, who goes to live with her grumpy grandfather in the Swiss Alps. After a while, her positive attitude helps those around her including her grandfather and cousin Clara see the world in a better light.
When visitors come to Maienfeld’s Heidi Village, they get to step back in time to a bygone era of simplicity. With the magnificent Alps as a backdrop, tours of the Heidi House, and Trail are bound to delight kids and parents alike.Our sons loved feeding the goats and sending postcards from what is called the smallest post office in Switzerland.
Alice In Wonderland – Oxford, England
Written in 1865, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson who wrote under the pen name of Lewis Carrol created the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The writer, an Oxford professor, based his story on a real-life acquaintance who was the daughter of his friend the Dean. After the original story was published, the name of the book was later changed to Alice In Wonderland. The story takes place in Oxford England, where Alice falls a rabbit hole, and experiences a whole new world.
Visitors to Oxford are bound to stumble across Alice Shop that sold sweets a hundred and fifty years ago and now focuses on souvenirs.
Pippi Longstocking – Stockholm, Sweden
Junibacken is a children’s play attraction that features Pippi Longstocking and her story. First written by Astrid Lindgren in 1945, Pippi has many books detailing her adventures all the way up to the year 2000. There are several movies and even a television show about her.
The Junibacken Museum features several interactive displays where visitors can pretend they are part of the different Pippi stories. Guests can ride Pippi’s horse, or hop on a train that will take them around Storybook Square. Many visitors end up spend ing the entire day there, we did!
Madeline – Paris, France
The book series of Madeline features a little girl and her life at a Parisian Catholic Boarding School. Written by US-based Ludwig Bemelmans in 1939 most stories are written in easy to follow rhymes. The franchise which was continued by his grandson grew to include audiobooks, movies and even a tv series.
When visitors are in Paris, they can take The Madeline Tour. The tour focuses on places mentioned in the books like the Eiffel Tower, the Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Pont Neuf.
Little Women- Concord, Massachusetts
Written by Louisa May Alcott, in 1868 the book is loosely based on the life of her and her sisters. The author wrote the book to highlight the all American girl spirit as requested by her publisher. She followed the book with a similar one for boys called Little Men. The highly acclaimed novels provide an essential insight into family life during and after the American Civil War.
Visitors can explore the author’s home in Concord called the Orchard House. During the tours, the guides point out some of the personal items of each family member and explain the story behind it.We participated in a ‘living history tour’ where the guide was dressed in a Victorian outfit. Our kids laughed at the jokes and enjoyed the treasure hunt while learning about the author’s life.
Little House on the Prairie – Independence, Kansas
Written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie is a children’s classic book series. The books detail Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life growing up outside of Independence Kansas. For those who prefer following the story on the small screen the TV show series is excellent and will engage most kids.
As visitors explore the Museum, they can step back in history and feel firsthand how Laura Wilder did growing up. Guests can see the well that her father dug, the town’s post office and even a replica of Wilder’s childhood home.
Autism Travel Tips
- Before you head to any of these literary destinations, make sure to read the book with your children. Doing so will familiarize children with the characters, time frame, and the settings of the book.
- When headed to a literary destination with kids, make sure they are prepared for the weather conditions. Some of the destinations are outside which temperature-sensitive kids may find challenging.
- Also, when headed to a site, make sure to explain any scary areas to your child ahead of time. Moreover, let the tour guide know and ask whether there is a way to avoid that area.
Have you taken your kids to any of the literary destinations on this list?
If so, where and how well did your children love it?