A good book can transport us to magical places during a time when far-flung exploration may not be possible.
Here are five ideas from the literary world that may inspire your own adventures.
1. A.A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh,” Winnipeg, Manitoba
A century ago, a Canadian soldier launched a literary legacy when he adopted a black bear cub and named it after his hometown of Winnipeg. The soldier took the cub across the pond and eventually donated it to the London Zoo, where Winnie became the inspiration for the well-loved character. Today, Winnipeg’s Pavilion Gallery Museum, the centerpiece of Assiniboine Park, houses a permanent collection of Winnie the Pooh artifacts and memorabilia, including a painting by the book’s original illustrator. For now, while the border remains closed, consider rereading the classic or go on a teddy bear hunt in your neighborhood.
2. Louisa May Alcott, Concord, Massachusetts
For decades, young readers have been enthralled by the adventures detailed in “Little Women.” Soon, we will once again have the option to visit the home of Louisa May Alcott, the novelist who crafted the compelling story around the relationships within her own family. In time, you can take a guided tour and get a glimpse into how the Marche family lived in the home known as Orchard House. Many of the family’s treasures remain in the well-preserved structure, including family china and photographs. You’ll find out why the Alcott clan kept daily diaries and visit Louisa’s bedroom where the shelf desk, upon which she wrote “Little Women,” still remains. For now, you can take a virtual tour on the Alcott website or watch the feature length film inspired by the novel, via your favorite streaming service.
3. Zane Grey’s America
Best-selling novelist and avid angler Zane Grey created robust stories detailing the life and culture of the American West. Through titles such as Call of the Canyon,” “Riders of the Purple Sage” and The Thundering Herd,” Grey’s tales of frontier character and romance inspired many to explore new country. His books involve every state west of the Missouri River except North Dakota. Visit his birthplace in Zanesville, Ohio, a town founded by his mother’s ancestors. You can also visit a replica of his Arizona cabin (the original burned in a 1990 wildfire), which served as his home base while exploring and writing. While the historic sites are temporarily closed, the adventures are alive and well in the novels he wrote and in the landscapes that served as inspiration.
Contact: www.zgws.org; rimcountrymuseums.com/zane (underscore)grey(underscore)cabin.htm; nps.gov/upde/historyculture/zanegrey.htm
4. “Where the Wild Things Are”
Why not use this creative tome as the centerpiece of a wild and wonderful weekend with the kids? Read Maurice Sendak’s colorful book, then visit your local park, or walk through a nearby forest and discuss the adventures of young Max, the main character. Top off the weekend by streaming the Spike Jonze movie of the same name. The whole family will enjoy the mix of real actors, computer animation and live puppeteering, the combination of which brings the story to life. Let the wild rumpus begin!
5. Jack London, Glen Ellen, California
Channel the adventuresome spirit of one of the planet’s most inspired writers with a plan to explore more than 26 miles of hiking, horseback and cycling trails across 1,400 acres in the stunning Sonoma Valley. In time, you can visit the stone barn and the home where London wrote his page-turners. The author of “Call of the Wild” and “White Fang” was laid to rest on this landscape that nurtured his creativity and drive. It is now a National Historic Landmark. Currently, you can access the historic area, trails and picnic tables. From afar, you can also access the park’s natural beauty through a video series that also includes ideas for engaging with nature in meaningful ways.
Lynn O’Rourke Hayes ( www.LOHayes.com ) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter lohayes, Facebook, or via FamilyTravel.com.