Ready to take a literary road trip? This week-plus driving tour takes you from the Appalachians to the ocean in the footsteps of the region’s most legendary authors.
Your first stop is in Asheville, North Carolina. Enjoy a relaxing walk through the vibrant downtown, capped by a visit at the centrally located Thomas Wolfe home. A short drive away in Flat Rock is the home of poet Carl Sandburg. Retire to your swank room at the Grove Park Inn.
Get up bright and early for a drive down to Nantahala Outdoor Center on the Georgia-South Carolina border for some white-water rafting on the scenic Chattooga River, setting of the 1972 film adapted from James Dickey’s novel Deliverance. Tonight, enjoy a hearty dinner at the nearby Dillard House in Dillard, Georgia, also a B&B where you’ll stay the night.
Make the short drive to Atlanta and a visit to the Margaret Mitchell House, a.k.a. “The Dump,” where the former newspaper reporter wrote the novel Gone with the Wind over a 10-year period. After a Southern comfort food lunch at nearby Mary Mac’s Tea Room, venture into west Atlanta for a visit at the Wren’s Nest, home of Joel Chandler Harris, author of the tales of Uncle Remus. Enjoy your night’s stay at the Georgian Terrace hotel, where Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh stayed while in town for the Gone with the Wind premiere.
Visit Milledgeville, former state capital and stately town where Flannery O’Connor wrote all her most important works. Visit her family farm at Andalusia and see the room where she worked, then head downtown to see the O’Connor collection of memorabilia at her alma mater, Georgia College & State University.
On the way out of town head to nearby Eatonton and visit the recreated boyhood home of Joel Chandler Harris, author of the Uncle Remus stories. Take the Alice Walker Driving Trail, highlighting important local sites in the life of the great African American author who also called Eatonton home. Tonight, you spend the night in Savannah, at the Hamilton-Turner Inn, once owned by “Mandy,” a character in John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Tour the squares of downtown Savannah, including a stop at the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home and the nearby, ornate Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, where she and her family attended mass. Enjoy lunch at Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room, mentioned prominently in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
An hour away, walk around charming little Beaufort, South Carolina, which inspired so much of the work of novelist Pat Conroy. The grave of his father, James, a.k.a. “The Great Santini,” is in the National Cemetery near downtown. Stay the night in the historic Cuthbert House Inn, which hosted cast members such as Barbra Streisand during the filming of Prince of Tides.
For an optional additional day, head to the “Holy City” of Charleston for a visit to Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island, where a young Edgar Allan Poe was stationed as a U.S. Army officer and inspired to write The Gold Bug. Eat a pub lunch at nearby Poe’s Tavern. Spend the rest of the day and evening in downtown Charleston, soaking up the atmosphere that inspired the tale Porgy and Bess, first novelized by native son DuBose Heyward and then popularized by George Gershwin’s opera.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Carolinas & Georgia.