See the Inspiration Behind Your Favorite Stories

History & Heritage, Magazine Features

Groups can walk the path of some of New York’s most influential writers

Writing is often influenced by life experiences. Those seeking to learn the origin of some of their favorite stories can visit New York, where they will be whisked back in time as they visit the locations that were most influential to some of the city’s most famous writers. Groups will find their own form of inspiration within the walls and natural preserves once belonging to these literary icons.

Standing as a legend of childhood fantasy and imagination, L. Frank Baum is most widely known for his series of novels continuing the story of The Wizard of Oz, the tale that follows Dorothy’s wildest imaginations. The All Things Oz Museum is home to hundreds of artifacts born from Baum’s stories and items from the original motional picture starring Judy Garland. Visit the Chittenango destination to view the collection of items and movie props.

William Cullen Bryant, an 1800s poet known for works like Thanatopsis and The Death of Lincoln, introduced the majesty of nature into his pieces. When looking at his Cedarmere home, it’s clear to see where the inspiration for his stories came from. The Cedarmere estate is paired with a garden blossoming with beautiful plants and trees. Guests can visit to be one with the nature that presumably helped Bryant pen some of his most influential poems. Inside the Victorian-styled estate, guests can take tours to learn more about the works and life of Bryant. Cedarmere plays host to many events on the spacious grounds it calls home. The Rose Gunter Trio is a reoccurring guest of Cedarmere and has put on events such as its Brunch to Broadway & Beyond series

LGT0620_NY_Sunnyside HR-27 photo credit Historic Hudson Valley

Photo credit Historic Hudson Valley

Thanks to his gothic style fiction and romantic novels, Washington Irving is a beacon of 1800s literature. You may know him best as the creator of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, a tale following Ichabod Crane through the gothic mystery surrounding the Headless Horseman. Irving’s Sunnyside estate, a historic landmark in Tarrytown, leaves no questions where the inspiration for his famous novel came from. With branches and ivy creeping up its rustic, cream-coloreded exterior, its lantern-guided path and the Victorian influence on the detailing in the architecture, the Sunnyside estate can pass for a location straight out of Sleepy Hollow. And with the real Sleepy Hollow only a short distance away, visiting the home of Irving is a must-see literary adventure. Each 30-minute tour takes guests through the life of Irving and his professional literary works. After the tour, visit Sleepy Hollow to spend the day in the town your imagination could only dream of.

Surrounded by serenity, the John Burroughs cabin named the Slabsides in Ulster County, waits for visitors with its woodsy charm. Set within a nature sanctuary, Slabsides is the perfect tour destination for anyone hoping to walk in Burroughs’ footsteps. Visit the sanctuary and experience the environment Burroughs used as more than just his writing escape.

Photo credit Historic Hudson Valley

Photo credit Historic Hudson Valley

Burroughs lived in and off the land surrounding the Slabsides while creating his nature-infused essays. Groups can visit the Slabsides to view the inside of his home that holds original furnishings and some of his works. The sanctuary features a trail that guests can follow with an amazing array of views of natural wonders. Stone stairs and wooden bridges wait inside of the sanctuary’s nature trail. ( Burroughs-Slabsides-/details)

The Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site in West Hills is home to many artifacts and history. It is also host to several events and programs meant to help guests get in touch with literary artist Walt Whitman. Among its many events to celebrate Whitman include Reminiscing with Walt, Poetry Daze and Floral Lilac Painting. Reminiscing with Walt has an estimated running time of about two hours and includes the chance to interact with a Walt Whitman interpreter who will guide guests through life in the 1800s, the interpretive center and take your group through the house that Whitman was born in. With its guided and interactive nature, this experience is one that every group should experience.

From words off the pages of famous stories and poetic compilations to physical embodiments and within reach places, these locations promise to bring these legendary personalities and creative geniuses to life. Following their footsteps may just help your group reach its own optimal level of inspiration.




New York’s impressive history shines through in its magnificent architecture, much of which spans more than a century. One of the more festive ways to enjoy a visit to the Big Apple is to relive the times of The Great Gatsby, a 1925 novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in Long Island. Groups can relive the Roaring Twenties and the opulence of The Great Gatsby era with tours of locations across New York.

Featuring French flare and 1920s air, the Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate in Huntington on Long Island’s Gold Coast was built in 1919. Arriving right in time for the Roaring Twenties, this estate is the perfect location to begin a journey to the 20s in New York. This estate and hotel combination has rooming available, including the Chateau Rooms, which are inspired by the original décor and style of the 1919 home.

Searching for the quintessential 1920s flare in New York is all about finding a location that throws you into the jazzy antiquity of the days of flapper style and speakeasy fun.

The Plaza Hotel in downtown Manhattan offers the highest standard in architecture and styling and offers its guests the chance to experience décor not commonly found in your everyday destinations. Visit the Plaza’s Palm Court and Champagne Bar for a casual meal, cocktails or champagne and relaxing conversation.

Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island is ordained with richly colored wooden accents, dense marbling and stonework in every room and painted with hundreds of colors and saturations upholstering every inch of the manor’s interior. Several chandeliers decorate the rooms of this historic site while the natural lighting of the large windows showers the rooms in sunshine and a view into the woods surrounding the manor. Taking a day trip to the manor will throw groups back in time as they savor the grandeur and style of 1920s extravagance. The gardens flourish with opulent flowers that bloom into magnificent orbs of color while ornate statues and fencing make it feel like a picture of the past.

MiKayla Hahnfeld

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