The Best Honeymoon Destinations for Book Nerds

Wedding season is on the horizon, and with it comes some amazing honeymoon travel opportunities. In the quest to find the perfect spot to relax after the months of planning, family time, and the ceremony itself, consider hitting the country that best suits your literary tastes. Both coasts of the U.S. boast their own wonderful literary histories, or well read and adventurous couples can branch out into more far reaching countries, like Japan or Cuba, to find their literary loves. Of course, there are certain distant havens for the written word, like London and Paris, that should not be overlooked. Wherever you and your beloved decide to go, be sure to bring plenty of books for your downtime.

Washington, D.C.
Washington D.C. is a gorgeous city with amazing literary offerings. The Library of Congress can be an almost full day adventure for any book lover, with exhibits that highlight everything from historical maps to the origins of jazz. True must-sees include the Thomas Jefferson Collection, holding many of the actual books read by the third President. And along the National Mall is the Folger Shakespeare Library, home to one of the few copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio. The Library regularly hosts productions of Shakespeare’s plays, poetry readings, and exhibits relevant to Shakespeare’s world. Visit the city in spring for the beauty and romance of the cherry blossoms, and stay for the fantastic history and literary sights.

England’s literary bona fides are unending and make it a dream honeymoon destination. Take in one of Shakespeare’s romances at The Globe Theater, walk the moors so loved by the Brontë sisters, sit in the village of Haworth at dusk for an otherworldly view of nature. Take an afternoon turn in the gardens of Jane Austen’s house in Hampshire while chatting about the love affair between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Maybe you want to check out a tour of the Harry Potter sets; they were good enough for the royals to visit. England is an amazing country, full of more literary sites and romantic day trips than could ever be listed in one place.

Northern California
Stay at the Hotel Boheme, visit Chinatown and the Chinese Historical Society to relive the worlds of Amy Tan’s novels, and spend a day at The Beat Museum to immerse yourself in the writing of the Beat Generation. Travel farther down the coast that inspired so many writers and photographers, and take in the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean before a stop in Salinas and the National Steinbeck Center. The dramatic contrast of the ocean and the redwood forest, the fertile valleys and the busy cities, are as interesting as any other characters in East of Eden, and time spent here won’t soon be forgotten. Whether you find the beaches or the forests, the cities or the open roads, California has a stop — and an author — for every taste.

Even without its astounding literary connections, the City of Lights can be the honeymoon of a lifetime. Make a reservation at Le Procope to eat like Victor Hugo, or drink 40 cups of coffee like Voltaire at cafés around town. A cemetery might not seem like a romantic stop, but Père Lachaise is the most visited cemetery in the world, with residents including Oscar Wilde, Honoré de Balzac, Colette, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein, and Richard Wright, where a true book-loving couple will be glad to pay their respects. Or, if graveyards aren’t your thing, step into the 1920s and get a drink in the same speakeasy where Hemingway met F. Scott Fitzgerald in April 1925; Le Rosebud is literary destination like no other. From your perch atop the Eiffel Tower or at a sidewalk café table, drink in the city that was home and muse to centuries of revolutionary writers.

Now that Americans can travel to Cuba to sightsee, the Hemingway House in San Francisco de Paula should be at the top of book lovers’ travel lists. Just outside of Havana you’ll find Finca Vigía, where Hemingway wrote his classics For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea, and began A Moveable Feast. The house is on both the World Monuments Fund’s list of 100 Most Endangered sites and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Places, so it is very much worth the visit. Nearby, visitors can see the National Museum of Fine Arts, the mosaic art at Fusterlandia, and grab something to eat in Old Havana. For a unique adventure in a country few have vacationed to, book nerds can immerse themselves in a culture we’ve only read about in books like Dreaming in Cuban.

A step outside of Western culture may bring book nerd lovers to Japan. The country is currently home to Kenzaburo Oe, Haruki Murakami, and Natsuo Kirino, among others, but these literary heavy hitters are just part of a long literary tradition. Plan your trip using this list of cities where famous Japanese stories take place, find a Tokyo jazz bar where you can whip out your favorite Murakami novel, and carry a tour books like Lonely Planet Japan to ensure you hit all the major points of interest. To see Western lit through an Eastern lens, check out a themed night at a restaurant, where they often take on classics like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

From Barnes and Noble Reads

Leave the Books at Home While on Your Honeymoon

In response to a heated debate on our Facebook page over whether newlyweds should bring books on their honeymoon, we’ve asked two writers—one for honeymoon reading, one against it—to make their case. When you’re done getting convinced to leave your books at home, check out our argument for bringing them along.

Like many of you, I’m a huge fan of books. There is truly a book for every occasion, but that doesn’t mean you must bring a book to every occasion. On many trips we’ve taken, my husband and I bring books to get lost in. But on your honeymoon, instead of reading, why not take the opportunity to get lost in each other’s company, instead? Later on in life you may find these chances few and far between.

One of the best parts of a honeymoon is finding new inside jokes and stories only you and your partner will share. On ours, my husband and I found a rug with the name of our hometown on it. Now, considering we come from a town so small even our fellow SoCal residents can’t find, it’s something we still laugh about. Without our noses in books, we also used our time together to take classes (including ones in cartoon drawing  and napkin folding), and to hit the all-you-can-eat soft serve machine more times than was reasonable.

If you can’t take a trip without some kind of media, bring something you can share. Bring along a new record, like Adele’s 25 or the Ultimate Sinatra collection. Sharing an old favorite album, or experiencing a new one together, is a great way to bond without a book. If your honeymoon involves a long drive, you can even invest in an audiobook of a romantic novel neither of you has read yet, like the first book in the Outlander series. Enjoying audiobooks together could even become a new tradition; a special “just you two” activity you look forward to. A joint listen, like a record or an audiobook, can inspire hours of conversation, speculation, and connection.

Are you a couple that’s into shared activities? Toss a couple of adult coloring books into your carryon to make the plane ride more fun. A book or a DVD can be isolating on a long trip, but spending time coloring together might help relieve stress from the wedding, and may even provide some unexpected laughs. Another fun idea is to pass the What I Love About You Little Gift Book back and forth over the course of your trip. You can get your reading fix in, while sharing how much you really do love each other’s quirky ways.

The biggest perk of not bringing books with you on your honeymoon? You’ll have plenty of space to buy book souvenirs along the way! Toss a tote bag into your luggage and make it a game to get a new book from every place you visit. Perusing a phrase book or a local guide to the area together can be more fun (and interactive) than staring at your own books in silence. Let serendipity be your guide, not your preplanned reading list. With an open mind, and lighter luggage, you’ll be amazed at all of the ways you and your spouse can have fun on your honeymoon when you leave the books at home.

Originally published at on January 20, 2016.