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Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando brings J.K. Rowling’s beloved books to life. Photo: Wikipedia

Summer vacation for those who are crazy about reading can be more than just a beach and a book. These destinations let literature lovers visit the settings of their favorite books in real life and discover new stories to fall in love with.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando drops you off right into the center of Hogsmeade, the fictional town square where Harry and his friends drank butterbeer and shopped for flying brooms. You can follow in Harry’s footsteps and visit Olivander’s Wand Shop, buy Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, or send a letter through the Owl Post. The park also offers rides based on iconic places from the book, like the Forbidden Journey roller coaster that takes you through a replica of Hogwarts.

In Matamata, New Zealand you can visit Hobbiton, the set where the trilogy of movies based on the Lord of the Rings books were filmed. Hobbiton is a faithful recreation of the places described in the books, down to the hobbit holes and the Party Tree by the lake. A tour guide will take you through the picturesque sheep farm that Hobbiton is built on, explain the elaborate process of building the set, and share a few anecdotes from filming. At the conclusion of the tour you can visit the Green Dragon Inn for a pint of ale or cider, just as the residents of the Shire do in the books.

If you’re looking for a new book to captivate you, Shakespeare & Company in Paris is one of the most famous English language bookstores in the world. The store has a history that spans more than a century and two locations, but it has long been a center for Anglo-American culture in Paris. Literary lumineries like Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and Henry Miller have been patrons of what one of the founders described as “a socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore.” Shakespeare & Company hosts an annual festival, has frequent talks by prominent authors, and invites patrons to a weekly tea.

Any city in the world is now a great city for book lovers thanks to Gimbal, a free app that examines the literary history of a place through interactive maps and audio storytelling. Choose a city or tell the app how much time you have to listen and Gimbal will provide you with several story choices.

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Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith is a writer, traveler and lover of cities currently living in Austin, Texas. Follow her on Twitter at @shameonseamus.
Jamie Smith

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