Book lovers, pack your bags for a literary adventure in New York State! From browsing the iconic stacks of the New York Public Library, to hunting for treasures in a Catskills book village, to visiting the homes of Washington Irving, Walt Whitman, and other famous authors, get ready to write your own chapter of bookish bliss with these literary destinations in New York State. Photo Credit: @waslet on Instagram.

Notable Literary Hangouts

The historic White Horse Tavern exterior lavishly decorated in spring flowers in Greenwich Village

Credit: @echoesofoldnewyork on Instagram

New York City has long been at the center of some of the greatest stories ever told, and its beloved watering holes often played host to some literary luminaries. Bob Dylan, James Baldwin, and Dylan Thomas were known to frequent White Horse Tavern in Greenwich Village, where today you can feast on burgers and other pub favorites amidst the tavern's historic aura. Legend has it O. Henry penned The Gift of the Magi in the second booth of Pete’s Tavern in Gramercy Park, where the 40-foot rosewood bar, tin ceiling, and tile floor date back to 1864. Minetta Tavern in Greenwich Village, where legends like e.e. Cummings, Ezra Pound, and Ernest Hemingway once congregated, now describes itself as a "Parisian steakhouse meets classic New York City tavern."

Explore Hobart Book Village


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Escape into the rolling hills of the Catskills to Hobart, the only book village east of the Mississippi. Stroll down Main Street to find seven charming bookshops housed in historic buildings where you can browse first editions, rare collections, and secondhand books in all genres. Find mysteries and sci-fi at Quarry Books, go DIY with Creative Corner’s selection of new, used, and vintage craft and cookbooks, and celebrate your favorite state at New York Books & Ephemera. Stock up during semi-annual sales held on Memorial Day and Thanksgiving weekends, attend the annual Festival of Women Writers, art shows, author readings, and signings, and be sure to explore the unique gift and vintage shops for unique finds.

Browse Independent Bookstores

Exterior of Strand Bookstore near Union Square

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If your idea of the perfect day involves searching bookshelves for your next read then New York State won’t disappoint. The Strand, a New York City staple since 1927, boasts “18 miles of books” and a rare book room that will delight readers and collectors alike while The Mysterious Bookshop stands as one of the oldest mystery bookstores in the U.S. New York State’s picture-perfect main streets are full of novel treasures from The Golden Notebook on Woodstock’s vibrant Tinker Street to Green Toad Bookstore on Oneonta’s charming Main Street. Buffalo’s booming book scene is prime for browsing thanks to Talking Leaves, Rust Belt, Westside Stories, and more. In the Finger Lakes, Buffalo Street Books in the historic Dewitt Mall celebrates the written word at its annual Ithaca Is Books Festival, enjoy comfortable browsing at Autumn Leaves Used Books at Downtown Ithaca Commons, and The Dog Eared Book was voted the region’s best bookstore in 2018. The Little Book Store in Clayton has a special section dedicated to all things 1000 Islands.

Grab a Seat at a Bookstore Bar

Customers sit at the bar of The Spotty Dog Books & Ale in the Hudson Valley

Want to enjoy a beer with your new book? Get it all under one roof in the antiquing haven of Hudson at Spotty Dog Books and Ales, a bookstore-slash-bar housed in an old firehouse filled with shelves stocked with nearly 10,000 titles. Rough Draft in Kingston is a rustic tavern and shop offering draft beer and cider, coffee, baked goods, and of course, books! Get cozy with a book and glass of wine at The Lit. Bar in the Bronx, where big-name celebs like Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, and Neil deGrasse Tyson have made an appearance. 

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Ruby red slippers, a commemorative plate, and stuffed Toto toy on display at the All Things Oz Museum

Photo Courtesy of All Things Oz Museum

Click your heels together three times and get ready to embark on a whimsical journey through The Land of Oz in New York State! “There’s no place like home,” and for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum, “home” was Chittenango. Follow the yellow brick road (literally!) to the All Things Oz Museum, where you can explore original movie props, dazzling costumes, rare collectibles, Judy Garland's autograph, and more. In the Finger Lakes, discover photographs taken by Baum himself, now showcased in the Oz Family Parlor Room at his mother-in-law’s house in Fayetteville. While there you’ll also learn about the legacy of women's rights activist Matilda Joslyn Gage and her great influence on the Oz books. 

Spend a Day at the Library

Interior of Morgan Library and Museum

New York State proves there’s more to libraries than just books, they’re also architectural marvels! The New York Public Library’s iconic flagship location on the edge of Bryant Park in NYC is a book lover’s paradise. Spend time in the Rose Main Reading Room, take a free tour, and snap a pic with Patience and Fortitude, the famed pair of marble lions perched outside the majestic Beaux-Arts building. The Jefferson Market Library, housed in a former courthouse, makes quite the first impression with its clock tower and garden, the Brooklyn Public Library is a Deco Moderne masterpiece, and J.P. Morgan’s private collection of rare books and manuscripts fill the grand Morgan Library & Museum. The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library takes up two city blocks and also features the Mark Twain Room, where you’ll find the original handwritten manuscript of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The Cazenovia Public Library goes beyond the page with a unique museum exploring over 2,000 years of history with a collection featuring everything from an ancient Egyptian mummy to early Native American tools to extinct birds.

Dine at Bookish Bars & Restaurants

The cozy bookshelf-lined restaurant and bar Beginnings on Long Island is a destination for book lovers any day of the week, but their themed events where you can enjoy a five-course meal and specialty cocktails all inspired by your favorite books, shows, and movies are not to be missed! In New York City, go down the rabbit hole at the Alice in Wonderland-themed Alice’s Tea Cup, bask in Victorian splendor at Oscar Wilde (named for the famed Irish playwright and home to NYC’s longest bar), and raise a toast with a specialty cocktail named after famous writers and poets at The Dead Poet.

Experience the Magic of Harry Potter 

Harry Potter Exhibit

Accio adventure! Head out on a magical shopping trip to the Harry Potter Store in NYC’s Flatiron District for all your wizarding needs from wands and robes to games, books, and rare collectibles. Pick up Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans at the candy store and then stop by the Butterbeer Bar for a frothy cup of the popular wizarding drink! Also in NYC, catch a spellbinding performance of the Tony Award-winning Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway and visit the Harry Potter: The Exhibition (through August 11, 2024) to see the wizarding world come to life with galleries celebrating beloved book and movie moments and locations, including the hall of moving portraits, the Great Hall, and Hogwarts classes, complimented by authentic props and costumes. For a limited time, Long Island’s Alibi Lounge has been transformed into Hogwarts Hall, a pop-up dining experience featuring small bites, Harry Potter-inspired cocktails and mocktails, and trivia nights.

See Spots from Books in Real Life

Fort William Henry

Bring the pages of your favorite book to life at New York State destinations that set the scene for some of literature’s memorable moments. Explore the Gold Coast mansions that inspired The Great Gatsby at Sands Point Preserve or see the restored Colonial fortress of the French and Indian War era at the Fort William Henry Museum, prominently featured in Last of the Mohicans (Bonus: author James Fenimore Cooper’s namesake art museum featuring the renowned Thaw Collection of American Indian Art can be found in Cooperstown). Check out 11 of the Best Books Set in New York State and find even more places to visit!

Visit Writers’ Homes

Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site

Embark on a literary pilgrimage through New York State to the places your favorite authors called home. Step inside the carefully preserved Adirondacks cottage of Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde author Robert Louis Stevenson to see firsthand where he spent a winter crafting The Master of Ballantrae. In the heart of the Bronx, you’ll find the cottage where Edgar Allan Poe spent his final years and penned many of his most enduring works including Annabel LeeThe Bells, and Eureka. Celebrate America's greatest poet at the Walt Whitman Birthplace on Long Island, showcasing original letters, manuscripts, artifacts, and more. Cedarmere, the Long Island home of 19th-century poet William Cullen Bryant, features exhibits, furnished rooms, restored gardens, a pond, and mill.

Delve into the Legend of Sleepy Hollow

An 18-foot steel sculpture depicting the Headless Horseman chasing Ichabod Crane stands in Sleepy Hollow

Credit: @legendsofsleepyhollow on Instagram

Explore The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in the Hudson Valley village where the classic American tale was set. Visit author Washington Irving’s gravesite on a free self-guided walk of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and get a taste of mid-19th century life at the writer’s two-room Dutch stone cottage Sunnyside on the banks of the Hudson River. Visit the 17th-century Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground, the notorious haunt of the Headless Horseman, and other notable locations from the chilling tale including Philipsburg Manor.

Explore Twain Country

Trolley into Mark Twain Country

Credit: Lee Speary

Chemung County in the Finger Lakes is also known as Mark Twain Country. For 20 years, Twain and his family summered at his sister-in-law’s farm in Elmira where the “father of American literature” spent his days in his octagonal study penning some of his greatest classics. Today, you can visit the study on the campus of Elmira College and pay tribute to the famous author at his final resting place in Woodlawn Cemetery. In the summer months, you can take a one-hour guided tour of these sites and other historical attractions with Trolley into Twain Country. Bonus: Visit Elmira College’s chapel and spot the Twain stained-glass window!

Take a Literary Stroll through Central Park

Lamposts shine along a path under trees resplendent in yellow foliage in Central Park

Meander under a gorgeous canopy of American elm trees along Central Park’s beloved mall nicknamed the “Promenade,” running from 66th to 72nd streets. Head to the south end of the mall to the Literary Walk where you can greet four statues of renowned writers Fitz-Greene Halleck, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and William Shakespeare. Travel to the east side of the park to snap a photo with the popular Alice in Wonderland bronze sculpture at 75th Street.

All About Shakespeare

Outdoor amphitheater lit up at night

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All New York’s a stage for the works of William Shakespeare. NYC’s The Public Theater is taking its popular Free Shakespeare in the Park on the road in the summer of 2024, bringing a delightful production of The Comedy of Errors to the five boroughs. Shakespeare in Delaware Park is a unique outdoor theater experience that is free to everyone and a classic Buffalo summer tradition. Saratoga Shakespeare Company brings the bard’s famous plays to life with free summer productions in historic Congress Park. Catskill Mountain Shakespeare presents live outdoor theater every summer in immersive, natural settings and the critically-acclaimed Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival stages its productions in a stunning open-air tent overlooking the Hudson River. 

Rest Your Head in a Bookish Hotel

The Roxbury Experience

New York City’s Algonquin Hotel reigns as a beacon of literary history, welcoming storied guests including William Faulkner, Gertrude Stein, and Maya Angelou throughout its more than 100-year history. This National Literary Landmark also served as the gathering ground for the famous Round Table (now the name of the hotel’s restaurant) with Dorothy Parker, Harpo Marx, and other members holding a daily meeting of the minds. Also in NYC, the Library Hotel is a bibliophile's dream, where each floor is dedicated to a Dewey Decimal System category, ensuring a literary adventure in every room and The Plaza stands as a symbol of timeless elegance, forever linked to the mischievous escapades of Eloise. In the Catskills, The Roxbury Experience transports guests into the pages of beloved tales with themed rooms inspired by the Wizard of Oz, Cinderella, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Dracula while the Emerson Resort & Spa (home to the world’s largest kaleidoscope!) provides a tranquil retreat, inviting guests to relax and rejuvenate amidst natural beauty that inspired essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose quotes can be found placed throughout the inn.

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