The American Writer's Guide to the World
How many times have you found yourself with a book curled up on the couch, imagining you're somewhere else? Authors' words have a way of transporting us through space and time, creating vivid images of incredible places far beyond our living spaces.
"It's about getting beyond the ordinary way of seeing things when you travel to places an author has written about," says Laurielle Penny, director of literary touring company Classical Pursuits. "Somehow, it feels like you're entering into a secret—you get to feel the place, rather than just see it; it's one step beyond just being a tourist."
From the magical streets of Paris to the beaches in Cuba, these are the places worthy of songs, books, poems, and sonnets, according to some of history's most famous American writers.
"One in whom this sense [of beauty] had long been repressed, in coming into Paris, feels a rustling and a waking within him, as if the soul were crying to unfold its wings." —Harriet Beecher Stowe
"The whole world descends to forget or rejoice, to hide its face or have its fling," F. Scott Fitzgerald said of the French Riviera.
"I sometimes fancy, that Rome—mere Rome—will crowd everything else out of my heart." —Nathaniel Hawthorne
"The tops of mountains are among the unfinished parts of the globe, whither it is a slight insult to the gods to climb and pry into their secrets, and try their effect on our humanity. Only daring and insolent men, perchance, go there," Henry David Theroux said of Maine.
"Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go." —Truman Capote
"The most beautiful bay in the Caribbean," James Albert Michener said of Marigot Bay in St. Lucia.
"New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin." —Mark Twain.
"My mojito in the Bodeguita del Medio and my daiquiri in the Floridita," Ernest Hemingway described his nightly routine in Havana, Cuba.
New York City
"There is no place like it, no place with an atom of its glory, pride, and exultancy. It lays its hand upon a man’s bowels; he grows drunk with ecstasy; he grows young and full of glory, he feels that he can never die," Walt Whitman said of New York City.
"When spring comes to Paris the humblest mortal alive must feel that he dwells in paradise." —Henry Miller
"The old part of Seattle, where the fish and crabs and shrimps lay beautifully on white beds of shaved ice and where the washed and shining vegetables were arranged in pictures." —John Steinbeck
"America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco and New Orleans." —Tennessee Williams
"Across Sonoma Mountain wisps of sea fog are stealing. The afternoon sun smolders in the drowsy sky. I have everything to make me glad I am alive." —Jack London
"The best bribe which London offers to-day to the imagination, is, that, in such a vast variety of people and conditions, one can believe there is room for persons of romantic character to exist, and that the poet, the mystic, and the hero may hope to confront their counterparts." —Ralph Waldo Emerson
"The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach. I have heard them all, and of the three elemental voices, that of ocean is the most awesome, beautiful and varied," Henry Beston said of Cape Cod.
Hudson River Valley
"It is a beautiful spot, capable of being made a little paradise," Washington Irving wrote about the Hudson River Valley.
"What is there to see in Europe? I'll bet those foreigners can't show us a thing we haven't got right here in Georgia." —Margaret Mitchell
"Out yonder they may curse, revile, and torture one another, defile all the human instincts, make a shambles of creation (if it were in their power), but here, no, here, it is unthinkable, here there is abiding peace, the peace of God, and the serene security created by a handful of good neighbors living at one with the creature world," Henry Miller wrote of Big Sur, California.
"If you know where to look, Florence is paradise." —Dan Brown