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Five Literary Ways to Explore the Literally Great Outdoors

So June is Great Outdoors Month and here are five unique ways to explore the great outdoors. My focus is on California locations, and also, well, literary ways and literary locations too so you can explore the literally great outdoors! (sorry, couldn’t resist!)

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Five Ways to Explore the Literally Great Outdoors

Read in the Great Outdoors!

This one is a straightforward thing. Pick up any book and head outside to read. It can be your backyard, a favorite park, or other places along hiking trails or such where you can set down a camping chair or a blanket and settle down for a read.

Or you can get a bit more specific about what to read (still reading outdoors, of course), and read books about the outdoors in some way. Like Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, or Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, or simply a book about nature.

Write In -spired by Nature

Carry a journal or notebook with you when exploring the outdoors. Find a quiet spot that inspires you, and …. write! Observe and make notes – describe the sights, sounds, and smells, and let the natural beauty fuel your imagination. Who knows, you might end up with the next great thing to read!

Have a Literary-Themed Picnic

Combine the joy of reading with the pleasure of a picnic. Pack a basket with your favorite literary works, a cozy blanket, and some snacks inspired by the books you picked or not! If you have a favorite spot, set it out there, and spend the day having a literary-picnic, by yourselves, or with your bookish tribe.

Attend Great Outdoor Literary Events

Every area always has a few outdoor literary events going on. So be sure to keep an eye out for such events in your location. These can be poetry readings, author talks, or storytelling sessions, that take place in local parks and gardens. While I have not attended any such event, there was one recently in my area which was a spring weekend event with many sessions throughout. Sadly, I could not attend it because of a conflict in my schedule.

Visit Literary Landmarks in the Great Outdoors

I talked about literary landmarks in the San Francisco Bay Area earlier here. Be sure to check those out if you are in the Bay Area or plan to visit! Below, I list a few more around the Golden State; these are places that will allow you to well, “literally” explore the great outdoors!

I have to visit a couple of these myself still but have researched them so much over the years that I am sure to feel that deja vu feeling when I finally do visit them!

Monterey and More

This California locale is literally a literary paradise! From the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas to Cannery Row in Monterey, from the Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to The Henry Miller Library, there is lots to explore and spend time within doors and outside. And of course, there is the charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea that is sure to give you storybook vibes everywhere you look!

While Monterey and Carmel are pretty and beautiful, Big Sur offers rugged views and there is Santa Cruz as well as Pismo Beach and other areas along the central coast of California. Each of these areas have inspired numerous authors, including Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac. Experience the breathtaking cliffs, picturesque coastline, and serene forests that have captured the imaginations of writers throughout history.

You will find references to many of these places in books not only by Steinbeck, Stevenson, Kerouac, and other authors as well.

The Huntington Library and Beyond

The Huntington Library in San Marino (southern California) offers so many ways to indulge in literary treasures while enjoying nature’s beauty! The library itself houses many rare books and treasures, including original manuscripts from authors like William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Henry David Thoreau. You can then stroll through the beautiful botanical gardens surrounding the library for a serene outdoor experience. And don’t miss the art museum as well. This is a must-visit on my next trip to southern California (I could not put this into my schedule the last time I visited, since it needed more time than I had at the time).

And of course, a little further south, Los Angeles by itself is a “lit” city as well, with so many literary options to explore it.

Sonoma County and nearby

Sonoma county and nearby Napa county are famous for wine, but there is more to these areas.

Located in the heart of Sonoma County, Jack London State Historic Park was the former home of renowned American author Jack London. A park that I am yet to explore, it has a lot to see. From beautiful trails to London’s cottage, and a peek into history as well as a look at his farming innovations!

Then there is Santa Rosa, which has the Charles Schulz Museum (I mention this in the other post I referenced earlier about literary landmarks).

Napa wine country also inspired and continues to inspire many writers, and of course, there is wine!

Calaveras County

Pay homage to one of America’s greatest humorists by visiting the replica of Mark Twain’s cabin in Angels Camp. I missed seeing the cabin itself though I was apparently right next to it while staying at an Airbnb there. But I did see Angels Camp and other areas which inspired Twain.

This scenic region in the Sierra Nevada foothills offers opportunities for hiking, fishing, and exploring Gold Rush history, so 👍🏻, it is a great way to explore the great outdoors. Visit Calaveras in May for the annual Calaveras County Fair and Frog Jumping Jubilee. The tiny but cool downtown Angels Camp has its own unique “walk of fame” – for these famed champion frogs from each year, plus many references to Mark Twain everywhere.

Pacific Crest Trail

And this last one is not a specific landmark or attraction, but a hiking trail. The Pacific Crest Trail became even more popular by Strayed’s book mentioned earlier. Plus, it also shows up in The Gilmore Girls show.

And Now, the End of This Great Outdoors Exploration Post

Dear reader, what about you? How do you plan to spend time in the great outdoors this month? Which of these ideas appeals to you the most? And have you visited any of the locations mentioned in my post? What are some literary outdoor locations you know of and/or (would) love to visit?

Five Literary Ways to Explore the Literally Great Outdoors

19 thoughts on “Five Literary Ways to Explore the Literally Great Outdoors

  1. Thank you for writing this post! Not visited any places mentioned in your post yet. It’s inspiring to see how literature can capture the essence of nature and adventure. I can’t wait to embark on these literary journeys and experience the beauty of the outdoors through the power of words. Happy blogging!

  2. I absolutely loved your article on five literary ways to explore the great outdoors! Your suggestions for connecting literature and nature were brilliant and creative. It’s fascinating how literature can enhance our appreciation for the natural world. The book recommendations you provided, along with the corresponding outdoor activities, offer a unique and enriching experience. Thank you for sharing these literary adventures that allow us to immerse ourselves in both words and nature!

  3. Love this! I will say I enjoy a good book and a blanket at the beach. I often do that and it’s so relaxing. We love the outdoors!

  4. I love all these great ideas. I actually love reading outdoors as long as the bugs are not to bad. It’s always nice to just be outdoors and read.

  5. I’m surely gonna keep these ideas in mind! This is a really great article to read. Reading is what I do every time I’m sad or stress and it really helps a lot

  6. Like you mentioned, I love checking out the outdoor events that our local library offers in the summer. They always have so many great things happening!

  7. I love reading and connecting with stories and adventures. I have visited any of these places as you mention in your post. I will keep them in mind to thank you for sharing with us.

  8. A literary themed picnic sounds like a really good idea. I’d go one step further and make items that are from books or decorated to look like characters etc. That could be great fun.

  9. I love reading outdoors, especially during my summer vacation. These are great ideas of reading to take in consideration!

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