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We have some avid readers at our house and have been able to spin that love of reading into engaging family trips together. As our kids get older, we are increasingly getting them more and more involved in the trip planning process. Planning trips around destinations featured in their favourite books has been a great engagement tool.
We have visited London to experience the world of Harry Potter and Greece to explore the Greek mythology of the Percy Jackson series. Both trips were super memorable and some of our kids’ favourite trips. If you are looking for some great children’s literature to read with your kids or if you are looking for inspiration for your next family trip, this is the post for you. We asked other travel bloggers to share their family trips inspired by literature to present 8 awesome book-themed trips.
- 1 Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – London
- 2 Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery – Prince Edward Island, Canada
- 3 Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren – Stockholm
- 4 Paddington Bear by Michael Bond – London
- 5 Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan – Greece
- 6 Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl – Auschwitz
- 7 The Chronicles of Narnia by C J Lewis – New Zealand
- 8 What Was Pearl Harbor by Patricia Brennan Demuth – Hawaii
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – London
London is home to the world’s most popular children’s book character and there are many attractions to explore London on a Potter-themed trip. Unless you have been buried under a rock for the past couple of decades, you don’t need a synopsis of the Harry Potter books. They capture the imagination of children of all ages and their parents too. The Harry Potter books catapulted the fantasy genre back in vogue, and to this day fantasy is the most popular genre in children’s literature.
When visiting London, you can visit many of the locations from the books and movies, including King’s Cross Station, Picadilly Circus, the Millennium Bridge, as well as the inspiration for Leaky Cauldron and Gringott’s Wizarding Bank.
One of the best Harry Potter things to do in London is the Tour for Muggles, a wonderfully inexpensive walking tour through central London with a theatrical guide to show you the best Harry Potter movie locations and be immersed in Potter trivia and facts. Our whole family loved this tour!
London is home to the Warner Brother’s Studio Tour, a permanent exhibit of behind-the-scenes memorabilia and insight into the making of the movies. Tickets aren’t cheap and have to be reserved months in advance, but it truly is a magical place. This is also a much better place to get your photo with Station 9 3/4; as the location at King’s Cross often has hour long waits. You will be awed by the Great Hall set, the elaborate costumes, Diagon Alley, and so much more. The self-guided studio tour is best for kids 8+.
If you can score tickets, London’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play would be a great addition to a Harry Potter-themed London trip.
Contributed by 5 Lost Together
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery – Prince Edward Island, Canada
Prince Edward Island is the ultimate literary destination for Anne of Green Gables fans. The most exciting sites, of course, relate directly to Anne. Tourists can visit a replica of her home, as well as see demonstrations, hear live readings, and meet Anne herself. In Charlottetown, you can also treat yourself to a live performance of the Anne story.
In addition to the literary stops, PEI is chock full of family-friendly activities. During the summer, when the weather is mild and the days are long, the beaches and hiking are stunning. Be sure to wander through downtown Charlottetown to try local chocolates and ice creams. And be sure to leave plenty of time to drive around the gorgeous island – with the Anne books on audio, of course!
Contributed by Preethi from Local Passport Family.
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren – Stockholm
Pippi Longstocking has been a favourite book for kids for years. We especially liked reading it to our red headed daughter who was able to relate to the red headed Pippi Longstocking and loved dressing up in mismatched clothes like her.
When we found ourselves visiting Sweden, the home of author Astrid Lindgren, there was never a choice – we had to visit Junibacken in Stockholm for a Pippi Longstocking fix!
Junibacken is a “fairytale house” built for kids. It was created by Astrid Lindgren herself who wanted a fun, touch and play museum for kids around children’s literature. There are several parts of Junibacken which cover many Astrid Lindgren stories. The best part for Pippi lovers is a recreated Pippi Longstocking’s house where our kids could play for hours! There was also a live show. It’s easy to visit here on a trip to Stockholm.
If you have longer in Sweden, you can also visit Astrid Lindgren World in Vimmerby, Småland.
Contributed by Josh from Australian Dad.
Paddington Bear by Michael Bond – London
One of my favorite books that inspired our travels is the Paddington Bear series. When we lived in London, and every visit since, we always read several of the Paddington bear books to our kids to prepare and inspire them for our visit. That curious little bear makes his way all over the city!
In Paddington and the Marmalade Maze, Mr. Gruber takes Paddington to Hampton Court Palace, one of my favorite places to visit with kids in London. My kids very much enjoyed the hedge maze, the very one Paddington meanders through getting into some trouble, of course. In Paddington At The Tower, the silly little bear almost leaves with the tower’s very important ravens, who follow him because of his hidden marmalade sandwiches! It was such a great connection for my kids when they saw the actual ravens, and the Yeoman Warders, who also appear in Paddington’s adventure. The Tower of London is another one of my favorite spots for families in London.
Mischievous Paddington makes his way all over the majestic city, including Buckingham Palace, to various gardens and of course to Portobello Road in Notting Hill, where Mr. Gruber has a shop. He rides on London’s famous transportation, including double-decker buses, the underground, and iconic taxis. Seeing Paddington enjoy these adventures is a great way for kids to connect to these very same iconic landmarks and experiences. We have used his books to inspire where in the city to go, including a stop in Paddington station where you can see his statue, and at Hamley’s Toy Shop on Regent Street, where another statue of the beloved bear can be found. The Paddington series are great books to inspire kids’ wanderlust for a trip to London.
Contributed by Keri from Bon Voyage With Kids
Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan – Greece
Once kids start reading the Percy Jackson series of books, they are usually hooked. Rick Riordan introduces kids to Greek mythology in a way that is compelling and educational. Best for kids 8+, kids get to travel into the adventures of Percy and his demigod friends as they battle mythological creatures.
Our daughter started reading the books when she was 10 and flew through them. We were so impressed with her Greek mythology knowledge: she knew all about Zeus, Poseidon, Hermes, Athena, etc, how they were all related and their legacies.
We were at a point in our travels where we wanted to get the kids more involved in planning our trips. So when we asked Ella where she wanted to go, she didn’t hesitate in suggesting Greece. We hadn’t been to Greece, so this gave us the perfect excuse to visit. She researched the Percy Jackson locations from the books that she wanted to visit and we designed our independent Percy Jackson itinerary around that.
Instead of visiting the popular Greek islands, our trip was based in Athens and the Peloponnese Peninsula, where we spent 10 days visiting ancient sites, eating delicious foods and learning about the history and mythology of Greece. Athens is the best place to start where parents can get up to speed on the Greek Gods by visiting the Acropolis and Parthenon. We visited Delphi, the home of the Oracle who leads Percy and his friends into their adventures. We visited Olympia, the home of the first Olympics and where Percy battles Nike. The ancient site of Epidaurus is incredible with its preserved amphitheatre and its setting in the books as a place of healing.
It was an amazing trip for the whole family, but it was the Percy Jackson books that planted that seed.
Contributed by 5 Lost Together
Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl – Auschwitz
Both of our daughters have read books on the Holocaust. Willow had read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Marley was reading The Diary of Anne Frank, so when we planned to visit Krakow they asked if we could make the trip to Auschwitz concentration camp.
Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest of the Nazi extermination camps where an estimated 1.1 million people were murdered. It is now one of the largest museums on the Holocaust as well as a memorial to all that perished there. Rooms are filled with information on what happened to the prisoners at the camp and some are even filled with belongings that were seized from them once they arrived there.
We decided not to do a guided tour of the camp as my husband and I had visited previously and we did not want to affect anyone else’s experience at the camp if we had to leave for the girls. We spent about 2 hours at the Auschwitz Camp before making our way out to the Birkenau camp where we spent another hour wandering the grounds. While it is a lot for anyone to take in we talk regularly about what happened there and discuss with the girls any new questions that they may still have about the visit.
Contributed by Bec from Poland Travel Expert.
Note from Dawn: If you are visiting Amsterdam, a visit to the Anne Frank House is another opportunity to explore the Holocaust and Anne’s legacy with your older children.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C J Lewis – New Zealand
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe starts the Narnia series and is the beautiful story of four brothers and sisters, sent to live in the countryside during the war. Here they stumble across an old wardrobe that transports them to the world of Narnia. If you have seen the film, you may already know that it was filmed in New Zealand. (although I prefer the book, it is much more magical)
If you want to recreate the film and visit the amazing locations, then a trip to New Zealand is a must. Three of the most iconic locations are the Flock Hill/Castle Hill area in Canterbury, Elephants Rocks in Waitaki Valley and Cathedral Cove. Flock Hill is the site of the Great Battle near the end of the film. You can climb the rocks at nearby Castle Hill and recreate the battle and take photos at the incredible rock formations.
Elephants Rocks are easily recognisable from its unique rocks and is the site of Aslans Camp before the Great Battle. If you watch the film before visiting this areas is easily recognisable. Cathedral Cove is the most beautiful beach location, but also the site of the Cair Paravel ruins. It’s a 40 minute walk each way, but well worth the effort to get there.
Constributed by Jennifer from Backyard Travel Family: Active Family Travel Specialists in New Zealand
What Was Pearl Harbor by Patricia Brennan Demuth – Hawaii
If you’re planning a visit to the Hawaiian island of Oahu, you won’t want to miss a visit to Pearl Harbor – but your visit will be so much richer with a little context beforehand. The non-fiction “What Was Pearl Harbor?” is an excellent introduction to the attack that catapulted the United States into World War II. It does a great job of providing the background leading up to the attack, the key players, what happened during the attack and how it shaped the course of history. The author did an excellent job presenting the details in a way that drives home that magnitude of suffering without sensationalizing it (or being too graphic for young children).
I recommend reading the book aloud as a family before visiting Pearl Harbor. Once you arrive at the memorial, you can visit many of the sites mentioned in the book, including the memorial where the USS Arizona was once anchored, the hanger that’s been turned into the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum and the Mighty Mo’ where the Japanese eventually surrendered to end the war in the Pacific. You’ll find more details to plan your family visit to Oahu here.
Contributed by Melissa from The Family Voyage.
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