Have you ever read a story and just wished you could magically transport yourself to the location the author created? If you're like me, you've done this many, many times. Here's a short list of some of those spots I think would make the perfect summer vacation destination. If your favorite isn't included, please comment and add it in.
Ah, Donna Kauffman's Down East location of Blueberry Cove, Maine, is just a dream vacation destination for me. I love to go to Maine, especially the mid-Coast and Down East locales, as they tend to be a little off the more general tourist radar, but still have all the amenities you'd like to find. Kauffman's Blueberry Cove is someplace I'd really like to visit to see the restored lighthouse (featured in Pelican Point (see my review)), the reinvigorated shipbuilding center with a fabulous B&B (featured in Half Moon Harbor), the diner where you can hear all the town's gossip and the bird sanctuary (featured in the soon-to-be-released Sandpiper Island). Yep, this is a spot where I'd love to visit and relax a bit.
- Blueberry Cove, Maine
For a place in Mid-Coast (not Down East) Maine that is somewhat similar to Blueberry Cove (and that is one of my absolutely favorite destinations), try the Popham Beach in Phippsburg area just outside of Bath (see my photo array at the top & above from a stay at Popham Beach). It is still relatively unspoiled, thanks to the Popham Beach State Park and the bird sanctuary at Morse Mountain. There are quite a few places to choose from to stay, from the Ocean View Campground (that also has cabins for rent) to Spinney's Guest House & Restaurant as well as private rentals and B&Bs. It's really a beautiful place to visit and there are three lighthouses at this juncture of the Atlantic and the mouth of the Kennebec River. While you're there you should definitely visit Bath and the Maine Maritime Museum as well as the Fort Popham State Historic Site (near where the first English New England colony of 1607).
And, of course, you should definitely make a virtual visit to Blueberry Cove via Donna Kauffman's fabulous Bachelors of Blueberry Cove series.
Each time I read one of the books in Beth Ciotta's Cupcake Lovers series (read my reviews of Anything But Love, Some Kind of Wonderful, and In the Mood for Love), I want to take a trip to Vermont. There's no seacoast, but there is so much to "see." Vermont in the summer is a wonderful place to visit and Ciotta's depiction of the small town of Sugar Creek is just too darn tempting!
- Sugar Creek, VT
There are quite a few fabulous communities in Vermont to choose from, but I usually start my visit in Woodstock, VT. It's a bit larger than Sugar Creek, but it's location makes discovering it the perfect place to start your exploration of this beautiful state.
Until then, I'll keep my taste of Vermont calorie-free as I reread Beth Ciotta's hilarious and touching Cupcake Lovers series.
Both Susan Wiggs' The Lakeshore Chronicles (see my review of Candlelight Christmas) and Jayne Denker's Marsden series (see my reviews of Down on Love and Picture This) are set in the heart of New York's Catskill Mountain region of the Hudson Valley. Actually the area I call home. When I read these books, I'm definitely enjoying the best of a stay-cation as the communities they describe, well, they're pretty much in my backyard. But they're also fabulous places to visit with beautiful mountain scenery, farmland, the aforementioned fresh water, spring fed lakes, artist hangouts, and so much more!
- Avalon, NY
- Marsden, NY
For my stay-cation, I'd start my exploration in Woodstock, NY (yes, this was the place that gave the 1969 festival its name), but it's far more than just a namesake. Woodstock is a vital little town that is an epicenter for the arts with a theater, a world-renowned summer chamber series (that takes place out in the woods), several vital artist organizations, and so much more. I'd then travel a bit up Rte 28 to Phoenicia, another quirky, fun village that is located along the Esopus Creek. There are restaurants to die for, great shops for antiquing and finding treasures, and just exploring. Plus there's a summer artist's festival, tubing on the Esopus, train rides on the Empire State Railway, and just gazing at some really beautiful vistas. Another fun and unusual place to visit in this region is Mohonk Mountain House located in New Paltz, NY (where Wiggs' characters of Daisy and Logan attended college at the State University). Mohonk Mountain House is pretty remarkable and is celebrating its 145th anniversary this year. It's located in the Shawangunk Mountains (try saying that fast) in an area the Native Americans called home. I've been told that Stephen King spent some inspired time there creating a story about a hotel... As a Hudson Valley native, I could go on and on, so if you're interested in visiting here feel free to post a question in the comments below (and I'll try to answer) or visit the Ulster County Tourism site.
Until then, you should read Susan Wiggs' Lakeshore Chronicles and Jayne Denker's Marden series to get you in the mood for a Catskill vacation.
When I was growning up, if we didn't go to Maine we'd head to Maryland's Eastern Shore area along the Chesapeake Bay. That's not the reason why I love Mariah Stewart's Chesapeake Diaries, Sherryl Woods Chesapeake Shores, or Sophie Moss's Wind Chime series, but it is one of the reasons that I dream of packing up the car and taking a drive down to Stewart's St. Dennis (see my reviews of At the River's Edge & On Sunset Beach), Woods' Chesapeake Shores (see my review of A Seaside Christmas), and Moss' Heron Island (see my review of Wind Chime Cafe). Each of these authors depict vital Eastern Shore communities. These series are favorites and have and have definitely prodded me to this region to my "must-visit-soon" list.
- St. Dennis, Maryland
- Chesapeake Shores, Maryland
- Heron Island, Maryland
Some actual (not fictional) Eastern Shore communities in Maryland that have tweaked my interest, include St. Michael's, Cambridge, and Tilghman Island. For more options, there's a great article (Gems Along the Chesapeake Bay's Eastern Shore) from the Georgetowner that I'm using as a resource to plan my vacation.
Until you have a chance to visit this region in person, do read the books in the Chesapeake Diaries, Chesapeake Shores, and Wind Chime series. They'll transport you virtually to the Eastern Shore and you'll have a great deal of fun along the way!
Terri Osburn's Anchor Island series (Meant to Be (read my review), Up to the Challenge (read my review), and Home to Stay) got me hooked on visiting an island community off the southern Atlantic Coast. Her's seems so perfect - not too big, not too small - and accessible by a ferry. There's a bit of nightlife with a bar and a great restaurant, some interesting shops, and a small, but vital island community. Forget visiting, I'd like to move there!
- Anchor Island, NC
Terri based Anchor Island on North Carolina's Ocracoke Island and that destination has also been added to my "must-visit" list. I was sold by the sixteen miles of wild beaches in the description from the tourism website. Yes, I'm a sea and sand girl. Truly. I. Am.
So, I'll keep reading the Terri Osburn's Anchor Island series until my car hits that ferry. You should too!
This past year Ava Miles not only burst onto the literary scene, but also into our imaginations with her Dare Valley series. This small Colorado mountain community is down-home yet cosmopolitan with a destination hotel, a five star restaurant, a fabulous java place, a Pulitzer-winning newspaper, and a well-respected college. Not to mention the glorious scenery. Yes, I almost might be tempted to want to move to this land-locked location, however I'd definitely want to visit!
- Dare Valley, CO
I'm not familiar with this area, but when I started looking into some interesting communities to visit, I came across Durango. This seems to be both a down-home community with a very cosmopolitan side. From the list of activities and the scenery pictured on the tourism website, if I ever get out that way, I'll definitely plan a visit.
Until then, I'll keep reading Ava Miles Dare Valley books. You should too!
Moving to the West Coast, Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor (read my review of Always on My Mind) is another community where I'd love to find a home. Oops meant visit ... I really am not calling realtors, really. This series about a small town set along the magnificent Washington coast may perhaps convince me to move coasts. Lucky Harbor seems like another wonderful quirky small town, filled with characters that you grow to love, great shops and places to eat, and a dynamite B & B.
- Lucky Harbor, WA
Named one of the Smithsonian's Top Five Small Towns, Gig Harbor, Washington can hardly be said to be undiscovered. But from all descriptions, this town on the Puget Sound seems to me like a place to visit and enjoy. I was sold by an article from Coastal Living that reported that "a sign outside No Dearth of Books reads, 'Shopping the Internet is easy and convenient, but it does nothing to fix Gig Harbor potholes.'" Somehow that in-your-face clarity reminded me a great deal of some Lucky Harbor residents!
Until you can visit, check out Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor series.
This is just my preliminary list of some of the bookish vacation spots I'd like to visit someday. I'd love to hear about some of your favorites too! Please add your comments below or join me on Facebook.
Happy virtual vacationing!