At one point or another, all book-lovers have had the same dream: stepping into the pages of their favorite book and finding themselves in a fictional wonderland. If I could pick, I’d find myself in 1920s New York, dancing at one of Jay Gatsby’s lavish parties. Or I’d have free rein of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Either of those would be pretty spectacular. I’m sure you’ve had your fantasies, too.
But since we can’t dive into our fictional wonderlands, we have to turn to the real world sometimes. Luckily, there’s so much to satisfy our hungry literary appetites right here on planet Earth. Beyond just trekking to the coffee shop where J. K. Rowling began writing Harry Potter — which is still super-cool! — we can go to places that inspired the settings on the pages that we so crave to live in.
Case in point: I reside in the U.K., and got the chance to visit the real-life Secret Garden. However much I’d dreamed about it, nothing prepared me for quite how magical it was to step into a world of words I knew by heart. Even recalling it gives me chills, oh man. So, if you want to have an experience like that with some of your favorite books, here are just 10 beautiful locations you can visit that inspired beloved fictional worlds. One look, and you’ll feel like you stepped right into a book.
Great Maytham Hall in Kent, England, aka The Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett was inspired to write The Secret Garden by a picturesque sheltered garden within the grounds of her beloved home. She used to sit and write within its four walls, and even trained a robin to sit with her. Fans of the book will be feeling sentimental; that same robin can be found on the pages of The Secret Garden, leading the orphaned Mary Lennox to find her own secret rose garden.
Pamplona, Spain, aka the Setting for The Sun Also Rises
Ernest Hemingway’s modernist style isn’t for everyone, but those who are swept up by this angst-ridden novel will love walking the streets of the Spanish city Hemingway so loved. The city hasn’t changed too dramatically in the 90 years since Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises… other than the addition of several statues in honor of the man who brought the city so much fame.
Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, England, aka The 100 Acre Wood from Winnie the Pooh
This gem is one of England’s best kept secrets. It’s barely signposted, but A. A. Milne brought up his famous son Christopher Robin under these very trees. Once inside, Winnie the Pooh fans can race sticks under “Pooh Sticks Bridge,” admire the “Heffalump Trap,” and cry at the “Enchanted Place” where this treasured story ends.