Friday, September 11, 2015

Ultimate Library Road Trip - US

I had a friend of mine recently say to me: “Wouldn’t it be cool to go on a road trip to visit a bunch of awesome libraries?” Why, yes. Yes it would be cool. I started to think about what that would look like and a map started to slowly form in my head. Of course, you would have to miss out on some of them because they take you too far out the way. A few that didn’t make the list simply because of that reason were the Geisel Library in San Diego (UCSD) and the McAllen Public Library in Texas. To go that far south would have taken the road trip way off course without much to see in between.

Before you get offended that you don’t see your library on my list, every library is amazing in its own way. Libraries serve their communities and provide much needed resources in times of need. One example that comes to mind is the Ferguson Public Library. This library did not make my list below either, mostly because it is these community libraries that are too small and too busy to support visitors on a large scale. I have added mostly larger, city center or specialty libraries to this list. Should you wish to make pit stops of other local libraries along the way, that is your prerogative. There are certainly no shortage of options.

I have also added other sights and places to stay along the way. Depending on your driving tolerances, you may want to stop more often on your journey. This is a cross country journey, from sea to shining sea. If you were to take this trip, you would probably fly to one coast or the other to begin and rent a car (or drive there from where you live). Since I live in Seattle, I started the journey itinerary there. If you live in the North East, you may want to start from the bottom and work the other direction. Here it is!

My attempt at a Google Map outline of the trip.

While in town also check out:
There are four or five bookshops in Pike Place. Half the fun is navigating the labyrinthine tunnels of the market to find them. The owner of Lion Heart Books, David, will sing to you upon request and makes excellent recommendations.

STAY THE NIGHT - Hotel Sorrento
This is a nice, old fashioned hotel near the downtown library. They sometimes host literary events.

Multnomah County Central Library
Side note: This is where my husband proposed to me.
Also Check Out: Powell’s City of Books
Powell's is a giant bookstore in downtown Portland that takes up several blocks and then some. It boosts 68,000 square feet packed with books. Not to mention the sister stores owned by Powell's in Portland and beyond. 

STAY THE NIGHT - Sylvia Beach Hotel
This literary themed hotel in the coastal town of Newport, Oregon is amazing. Each room is themed after a different author. Authors include Agatha Christie to Shakespeare. It has a library that looks out over the water and a restaurant. Personally, I would like to stay in the J.K. Rowling suite. 

While in town: Check out the Humboldt County Library and take a tour of the Victorian homes and architecture.

Also check out: City Lights Books

This classic hotel hosts many literary events and has it's own extensive library. Their Library Bar has many literary-themed cocktails. 

This library is pretty fascinating because it brings the great indoors outdoors. There is a large indoor garden complete with a pond.

Also check out: Unrelated to libraries, but could be fun to take a day off and explore nightlife and casinos in Reno.

STAY THE NIGHT - Whitney Peak Hotel
This hotel was selected because it is not a casino hotel. If you are feeling adventurous, there are plenty of casino hotel options.

The main library is a huge complex that includes shops and other community resources.

STAY THE NIGHT - Inn on the Hill

Also check out: Tattered Cover Bookstore

STAY THE NIGHT - The Crawford Hotel
This hotel has a LoDo Literary Society Package that includes an autographed book and a gift card to Tattered Cover.

The Kansas City Public Library - Central

This is the library that has the giant books on the building.

Also check out: Prospero’s Books

STAY THE NIGHT - Hotel Sorella

Also check out: Unabridged Books, The Violet Hour for literary themed cocktails

STAY THE NIGHT - The Drake Hotel

STAY THE NIGHT - The Bell Tower
While in town: Check out the University of Michigan libraries and department of Creative Writing. Cool town with plenty of charm.

Also check out: Caliban Book Shop
This bookshop specializes in rare and first editions. 

Library of Congress - Thomas Jefferson Building

Also check out: Atomic Books
This is a comic book shop and cafe.

This hotel has a library, literary art in the rooms, and literary inspired cocktails. 

Also check out: The Book Trader

STAY THE NIGHT - Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel
This upscale hotel has a literary design for their lobby. 

Also check out: Stand Book Store
This huge bookstore claims it has 18 miles of books. Goodness!

STAY THE NIGHT - The Library Hotel
This hotel is library themed from top to bottom. Each guest floor is organized by the Dewey Decimal System. For instance, the third floor has the 300's or Social Sciences. 

Also check out: Book Trader Cafe
This is a cute book store and cafe.

STAY THE NIGHT - Farnam Guest House

Brattle sells new and rare books in downtown and Trident has very delicious-looking breakfast items. I WILL HAVE ALL THE BRUNCH!

STAY THE NIGHT - Omni Parker House
This hotel is in the Literary District and hosts literary functions from time to time. 


Of course, you could always start in San Francisco or alter the trip an any number of ways if you decide to take this epic journey. Someday I hope to hit up some if not all of these amazing landmarks. If you do this trip or any part of it, tweet me your pictures @amandagracehua with the #LibraryRoadTrip.


All pictures found on Flickr creative commons. For credits, click on the image.


  1. Though it's not a public library, The Boston Athenaeum is also worth a visit while you're in the city. They have a gallery space for some really well curated exhibitions. They also, I believe, provide art & architecture tours for visitors.
    Also, excellent choice of Boston eateries--Trident is THE BEST.

    1. Nice! Thanks for the tip. I'm always down for art and architecture tours. :)