Posted on

5 Historic Homes of Famous American Authors

Visiting the homes and places where America’s literary luminaries lived and worked can give new insight into a favorite author’s work –or just deepen your understanding of another culture and another time. Here are several places that honor U.S. authors’ literary heritage.

Emily Dickinson Museum–Amherst, Massachusetts

280 Main Street

The museum includes two historic homes and gardens where this reclusive poet spent most of her days: the Homestead where she was born and lived most of her life and the neighboring Evergreens, home to her brother and his family.
The Homestead, probably the first brick house in Amherst, remained in the family until 1916. While many of the poet’s belongings and family furnishings are lost, the museum has faithfully recreated rooms so visitors can sense the environment in which the poet found her voice. The Evergreens is one of the earliest and best-preserved examples of Italianate domestic architecture in Amherst. The house is complete with Dickinson family furniture, household items, and decor selected and displayed by the family during the 19th Century.
A path described by Emily as “just wide enough for two who love” links the two houses. The landscaped grounds give further insight into this poet who assured us “Success is counted sweetest by those who n’er succeed.”

Robert Frost Stone House Museum–Shaftsbury, Vermont

121 Historic Route 7A

Open on Wednesday through Sunday in June through October from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Robert Frost’s 1769 Stone House Museum was his home for nine years during which he wrote his first Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poetry. He composed “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” at the dining room table on a hot, summer day. Situated on seven acres, visitors can see diverging paths and yellow woods that inspired him. Rugged, stone fences are still standing. But which neighbor inspired the line “Good fences make good neighbors?”
Walking trails around the property spark the imaginations of would-be poets. For those looking for a healthy snack, Frost’s apple trees still yield fruit. There are apple trees throughout the property as frost planned to be an apple farmer, not a poet.
The museum expects to have poetry readings at the house and bluegrass concerts on the grounds, so check before you go if you would like your visit to be enhanced by a performance.

The Steinbeck House–Salinas, California

132 Central Avenue

The birthplace and boyhood home of John Steinbeck is a Queen Anne style Victorian house built in 1897 and occupied by the Steinbeck family in 1900. It opened to the public as a restaurant in 1974 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The menu makes a few nods to Steinbeck’s novels such as East of Eden pasta, and Steinbeck photos and memorabilia cover the walls. It is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday.
The National Steinbeck Center is just a two-block walk from the home and houses the largest archive of the writer’s work. The museum, divided into sections, tells the story and the history of his most famous novels. The visuals help visitors picture key fictional scenes and historical eras in the author’s life. Using his words as the narrative, the exhibit navigates guests through theatrical sets and displays so they can step into Cannery Row, the Depression, the Dust Bowl, and more.

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum–Key West, Florida,

907 Whitehead Street

Open every day including holidays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hemingway called Key West the “San Tropez of the Poor,” and lived for ten years in the heart of the city’s old town. His French Colonial house, built in 1851, has many of Hemingway’s furnishings and artworks. Visitors can see where he wrote To Have and Have Not, The Green Hills of Africa, and other important works. The lush grounds are home to more than 40 cats, some descendants of the six-toed cats the novelist nurtured. A urinal Hemingway yanked from Sloppy Joes, a favorite bar, still waters the cats.
Sloppy Joes is the bar made famous by the hard-working, hard-drinking writer. There is a long curving bar inside with scars from generations of visitors and Hemingway fans. Open 365 days a year, Sloppy Joe’s offers food, drinks, live music and dancing, all with that offbeat, Key West ambiance. Each summer, the bar hosts a Hemingway look-alike contest where more than 100 men grow beards and do their best to dress like the Nobel winning author.
Key West’s Hemingway Days Festival coincide with his birthday in July and is a moveable feast of hard-driving activities including a mock bullfight. Sloppy Joes is the epicenter of the festival.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum–Mansfield, Missouri

Rocky Ridge Farm, 3060 Highway A

Open March 1 to November 15: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The author of the beloved “Little House” books did most of her writing as an adult reflecting on her childhood in a pioneering family. She and her husband Almanzo lived in a one-room cabin on the 200-acre Rocky Ridge Farm until the completion of their farmhouse in 1913. Today the farmhouse is a museum and visitors can tour her home, see her study and writing desk, and view many of Laura’s treasures that remain exactly how she left them.
The museum contains the most comprehensive Ingalls and Wilder family collections in the world. It includes Pa’s fiddle that accompanied the Ingalls family on their homesteading adventures and set Laura off on her married life with the song “These Happy Golden Years.”
Christmas at Laura’s is a favorite tradition. The house is festive with vintage decorations and Kids can have their photos taken with Santa by Laura’s fireplace. Guests can taste a sample of Laura’s recipes and take a copy of the recipe home. The bookstore in the house museum is a good place to find a quaint, unusual holiday gift. This is the only time the museum is open in winter.
It is wise to check the website of these literary homes before you make plans. Most are ran by small groups of volunteers, so times can change.

Posted on

Best Road Trips to View Fall Leaves

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from an autumn tree.”— Emily Bronte
Brilliant fall foliage, winding country roads, cider and donuts, antique stores, and little mom and pop shops. What’s not to love about a scenic autumn road trip? We’ve gathered information about some of the routes to use so you can have the best fall road trip yet, full of trees bursting with color.

Maine, The Bold Coast Scenic Byway, 125 miles

This scenic drive follows the rocky coast and offers stunning views of the restless sea. On the other side, trees display their riotous autumn colors. The experience begins (or ends) at Lubec, the easternmost village in the United States. Visit Lubec’s lighthouse. Attractions along the way include little museums that showcase maritime, agricultural, and Native American History. Famous local tastes are blueberries and seafood. This is one of America’s less traveled roads for fall foliage, and the landscape is pristine. Stay in a quaint inn like West Quoddy Station on the water and be one of the first Americans to greet the rising sun.

Vermont, Scenic Route 100 Byway, 217 miles

fall-leaves-vermont-worldvia
Vermont

This drive that runs along the center of the state is recognized by Yankee magazine as the most scenic route in New England. It attracts many international visitors eager to see blazes of autumn beauty. Brilliant yellow, red, and orange boughs frame little country churches, old-fashioned stores, turn-of-the-century farms, and plenty of places to indulge in New England cuisine and everything maple syrup. Don’t miss the charming, old-fashioned cider mill and gift shop in quaint Waterbury Center and the nearby Ben and Jerry Ice Cream factory.
vermont-leaves-worldvia
Vermont

The legendary Vermont Country Store, 657 Main Street, Weston, invites a leisurely stroll through a yesterday shopping experience. This store is stocked to the rafters with a variety of goods including penny candy, local cheeses, jams and jellies, maple syrup, and even old-time products re-created. Next door, the Bryant House restaurant has an antique soda fountain and 1885 barroom. The food is homemade and of special note are the chicken pot pie and Mildred Orton’s original gingerbread. The family-friendly Swiss Farm Inn offers cozy accommodations and an acclaimed breakfast.

Oregon, Columbia River Highway, 75 miles

America’s oldest scenic highway (the early 1900s) climbs the Oregon cliffs glowing with ash, cottonwood, and maple trees. In one, eight-mile stretch, the road skirts the bases of five dramatic waterfalls including the 620 foot Multnomah, one of the nation’s tallest waterfalls. Viewing areas allow a closer look and fine showers of mist mixing with the falling leaves.
Before or after hitting the road from Troutdale, plan to visit Lewis and Clark State Park and enjoy a picnic in the flat, grassy, tree-dotted park. Stay at Cousins’ Country Inn in The Dallas in a cozy room with a gas fireplace plates of homemade cookies. The Cousins’ Restaurant offers home cooking with locally raised sirloin and local produce served with micro-brews crafted nearby. Their in-house bakery, renowned for giant cinnamon rolls, bakes pies and biscuits daily.

Virginia and North Carolina, Blue Ridge Parkway, 469 miles

Spanning the southern and central Appalachians, this legendary road climbs to great heights and crosses historic valleys. The leaf-peeping season is all of October as the trees at various elevations change at different times. Leaves of the dogwood and black gum trees turn deep red. Poplars and hickories burst into yellow, maples turn red, and sassafras turn orange. At the end of the season, oaks turn brown and deep red.

fall-virgina-worldvia
Virginia

Roadside stands offer just-picked apples, cider, pumpkins, and pastries. It is easy to find corn mazes, hay rides, and festivals. A good starting point for your road trip is the Virginia Fall Foliage Festival that is held the first two weeks of October in Waynesboro. Its historic district gives a pioneering vibe to the lively festival filled with music, food, and crafts. Floyd, Virginia, population 500, has some quaint inns in the surrounding area and inviting down-home eateries.
Don’t miss Natural Bridge (milepost 61.6) a twenty-story, naturally-occurring, solid-rock bridge; Marbry Mill (Milepost 176.1) and its famous buckwheat pancakes, mill, and blacksmith shop; and Southern Highland Folk Art Center (milepost 382) that showcases traditional and contemporary Appalachian crafts.

Wisconsin, Great River Road, 250 miles

fall_leaves_wisconsin_worldvia
Wisconsin

Wisconsin claims to be the best in the Midwest for fall foliage, and the Great River Road was voted the Prettiest Drive in America by the Huffington Post in 2012. It winds through 33 Wisconsin historic towns along the Mississippi River. Visit the Fort Crawford Museum in Prairie du Chien for a peek at life in the early 1800s, a slice of history, and a dose of old-time medical care at the Fort Crawford Military Hospital. Go “off road” in Rush Creek Park on two miles of old service roads to the top of a 400-foot high bluff.
Eleven wineries along the way offer tasting opportunities beneath the vivid leaves of America’s newest wine region. Pair your wine with famous Wisconsin cheeses. Great River B&B in Stockholm is a fine place to relax from the road and enjoy nature at its best. The inn is an 1869 renovated pioneer Swedish stone cottage. One of the largest groupings of American eagles builds nests above the 45-acre wooded grounds.
The road rolls on to the Gulf of Mexico, but leaf peepers head in another direction when the leaves turn green.

New Mexico, The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, 85 miles

Begin and end in Taos for a journey through mountains, mesas, and valleys. Aspen trees turn shades of brilliant yellow, cottonwoods are red and gold, and purple cinquefoil adds a new color to the autumn palette. Bear and elk roam freely. Stay at The Historic Taos Inn, which has 44 individually decorated bedrooms with fireplaces, rough-hewn ceilings, and antique furnishings. It is rooted in the 1890s and is on the U.S. and the State of New Mexico’s Registrars of Historic Places. Eat at Doc Martins for southwest food sourced from local gardens. In Taos and along its byways, Native American, Spanish, and Anglo cultures are preserved through art and architecture, music and dance, and food and festivals year-round. Taos is a major center for the arts.
Make reservations well in advance if you want to stay overnight close to these scenic roads during the fall foliage season and be sure to pack your patience. The traffic usually goes slow, so just relax and enjoy the autumn’s beauty.
Where’s your favorite place to see fall leaves?