Plan Your Next Family Vacation: Real-World Places From Your Child's Favorite Books

by ParentCo. May 21, 2022

man stopping cars and allowing ducks to cross

For children, not much compares to the feeling of getting lost in a favorite book. Whether it’s traveling to Narnia or skipping down the yellow brick road to Oz, books take our children to places they never dreamed possible. While some of the places are imaginary, many settings in kids' books are based on real-life destinations.

Imagine the look on your child’s face if that cherished story came to life. The places below will give your child an opportunity to live “inside” their favorite books. They also make ideal family vacations.

From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

by E.L. Konigsburg

After Claudia Kincaid and her younger brother, Jamie, run away from their home in Greenwich, Connecticut, they take up residence at New York City’s 186,000-square-meter Metropolitan Museum of Art. While trying to solve a mystery involving a statue of Michelangelo, the duo hides in bathroom stalls, bathes in fountains, dines at automats, and even sleeps in Marie Antoinette’s bed, which you can see during a tour.

Although some aspects of their wild adventure are now buried in history (you won’t find an automat if you try) there is still a world of wonder awaiting kids of all ages at the Met, the largest art museum in the United States. New York City also happens to be the infamous home or destination of many other beloved book characters. Look for Eloise at the Plaza, James and his giant peach in Central Park, or Shadowhunters hiding in plain sight.

Harry Potter" series

by J.K. Rowling

Children who grew up on the “Harry Potter” novels and movies will always be wizards-in-training in a corner of their hearts. Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, has kindly obliged them by creating The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This includes Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Hogsmeade, the Hogswart Express, a ton of additional rides, and unlimited opportunities to spend money on Harry Potter-themed merchandise. There are also Harry Potter theme parks in Hollywood, California, and Osaka, Japan, and various standalone attractions at other theme parks all over the world.

Make Way for Ducklings

by Robert McCloskey

Mrs. Mallard was convinced that the pond at Boston Public Gardens would be the perfect place for her family to live. But how can she get all eight ducklings, and herself, there safely through the busy streets of Boston? A trip based on this beloved children’s book would make an ideal getaway for the whole family.

The Public Gardens of Boston were the first public botanical gardens in America. Lush with rich and unusual plants, your family will love the Lagoon, the array of monuments and fountains, and the Swan Boats, which have been in operation for more than a hundred years. While in the history-rich city of Boston, your bookish kid might also like to visit the Orchard House Museum where Louisa May Alcott wrote “Little Women” and Plimoth Plantation, where Clementine, from the popular series of the same name, goes on a school vacation.

Misty of Chincoteague

written by Marguerite Henry and illustrated by Wesley Dennis

Every year, wild horses living on Assateague Island on the Virginia coast are herded and swum to nearby Chincoteague Island, where they are then sold. The annual “pony penning” event gave inspiration for Marguerite Henry’s 1947 book “Misty of Chincoteague.” Some locals believe the first ponies were survivors of a shipwreck. Experts uphold that these incredible feral horses are more likely descended from domestic horses that escaped sometime in the 17th century.

Either way, you and your family can still experience the awesomeness of this annual event on the last Wednesday and Thursday of July. Nearly 50,000 people from all over the world come to witness this one-of-a-kind auction and show. There’s also a museum with seasonal events and exhibits.

Children’s classics by a variety of authors

Lovers of classic children’s literature will probably go weak in the knees on their travels around England with the possibilities of taking in Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows” at the irresistibly-named River and Rowing Museum in Oxfordshire; an outdoor “The Wind in the Willows” wildlife garden and sculpture trail at the Hanningfield Reservoir in Essex; Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood at Ashdown Forest in Sussex; the quest of a lost bear at London’s Paddington Railway Station; and the original settings of Beatrix Potter’s miniature gems such as “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” in Lancashire. Don’t miss more Harry Potter at the world famous 9 3/4 Platform at King's Cross Station and Warner Bros. Studio Tour of London, where you and your children can see the actual movie sets.

Which family vacations based on book destinations would you add to this list? Share in the comments!

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