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Five of the Best Storybook Family Vacations - No Substitute for Being There. Stumped for a summer vacation idea? Read the book and share a trip. The possibilities for a memorable family vacation are endless.Laura Ingalls Wilder De Smet South Dakota Storybook Vacation
Some of the most popular and timeless children’s books have real time vacation possibilities and the potential for incredible vacation memories. If sharing a good read with your child or grandchild is part of your family’s personality then it makes logical sense that a storybook vacation will be a hit. I can think of dozens of connections which will WOW but I have five suggestions to offer as examples with appeal to all ages. From living history on the prairie to big city adventures sharing a  storybook holiday with a child cannot be beat.
Desmet, South Dakota - Little House on the Prairie. Each summer the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder come to life on the edge of the prairie near De Smet. The annual pageant is a magical experience which engages members of the audience and thrills those who have read the books included in the Little House series. Families can explore the Ingalls family homestead and walk in the footsteps of early pioneers. Climb into an authentic covered wagon, take a farm wagon ride, and listen to authentic prairie music popular with homesteaders. The unique outdoor theatre experience, held each July brings to life one of Laura's books about the De Smet area. Make it happen.  Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant Society 42287 Rose Lane De Smet, SD 57231. Toll - free 1-800-776-3594, 1-800-880-3383 or in Mark Twain Cave in Hannibal MO

Hannibal, Missouri - Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn. You do not have to climb on a raft or paint a picket fence to share the experiences of Tom with your kids. The remarkable stories created by Samuel Clemmons can be easily shared in Hannibal. Ride a Mississippi riverboat and go caving; taste luscious kettle corn and talk with Mark Twain; see artists at work and enjoy live theatre; watch Tom and Becky act out their engagement in front of the Mark Twain’s boyhood home. Make it happen. Toll-free 1-TOM-AND-HUCK (Toll-free 1-866-263-4825) or Hannibal Family Vacation Ideas.

Cavendish, Prince Edward Island - Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery. PEI is the location that captivated Anne in Lucy Maud Montgomery's memorable stories so naturally it is possible to walk in the footsteps of Anne in fact the entire island offers possibilities. There is something surreal about a place dedicated to a person that never lived but (crowds aside) the house is interesting and the places which relate to the books really make the time on the island great fun with youngsters. In Cavendish, you’ll find Green Gables Heritage Place, Avonlea Village, and site of L.M. Montgomery’s Cavendish home. Lower Bedeque is home to the annual L.M. Montgomery Festival. Take a carriage ride much like Anne and Matthew did around the Silver Bush property, down by the Lake of Shining Waters.  Bonus Points: Even more lively is seeing Anne of Green Gables – the musical at the Charlottetown Festival. Make it happen. or

London - Harry Potter  series by J.K. Rowling. If you are considering a trip to London then why not make a connection with Harry Potter. Several tour operators offer Potter themed family junkets featuring sites mentioned in the books and films. Most popular spots include the Millennium Bridge destroyed by death eaters in the Half-Blood Prince and platform 9-3/4 in King's Cross Station. See the optician shop in Leadenhall Market which was used as the entrance to the ‘Leaky Cauldron’ in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and visit the Reptile House in Regent’s Park Zoo and see where Harry discovered he could communicate with snakes. The actual Harry Potter film studio location is now open for tours. If you want to splurge book a stay in one of the Hogwarts-style castle hotels near London. While not quite as rewarding, there is always Universal Studios Orlando version of the young wizard and his adventures. Bonus Points: This summer Roald Dahl’s famous story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is on stage at the Drury. Make it happen. One option is a clever DIY Harry Potter city walking adventure created by Richard Jones. For those hesitant to embark on their own there is also private Harry Potter walking tour which has received oodles of accolades.  While not quite as creative, another option may be to join one of the tours offered by in Monet's Garden Paris Storybook Holiday
Paris - Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Heinz Schachtner or Madeline Goes to Paris by Ludwig Bemelmans. Paris can be a magical place for families on holidfay. The parks come alive with music, puppeteers, and mimes providing daily entertainment during the summer months. Magical carousels whirl and gardens are abloom. It is easy to enjoy a storybook afternoon in the city. For the Monet connection head to the Marmottan Monet Museum housed in an old Parisian home. Make sure not to miss the far end of the main floor where Monet's actual paint pallets covered with paint are displayed on the wall. Bonus Points: Children are invited to explore the museum and its collections by attending workshops dubbed "The Little Marmottan."  For the water lilies paintings head to the L'Orangerie Museum at the edge of the Tuileries gardens on Place de la Concorde.  Throughout the city you will find churches and plazas and a hotel with a connection to Madeleine. Make it happen. The best bet for a magical holiday is to contact Isabelle Southgate the founder of Discover Paris with Kids. She knows the city and can create the perfect storybook holiday with unique places and authentic activities. Details at

Editor’s note.
I cannot resist adding three more special reads. There's the terrific stories of Paddington Bear who was found in London's Paddington Station and while some books are not destination specific they still make excellent family vacation additions.  Two of my favorite stories are A Curious Clownfish by Eric Maddern and Adrienne Kennaway and Dinosaur Bob by William Joyce. 

While Curios Clownfish works with any aquarium our family associates it with Monterrey Bay Aquarium.  And Dinosaur Bob is a terrific companion to any natural history museum with dinosaurs on display but our family associates it with the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta.

Content researched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Copyright updated 2016. De Smet Pageant image provided by South Dakota Tourism. 

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