10 Places in the U.S. Every Writer Should See
This one’s for all the writers (or artists) who are feeling a little blocked but are itching to travel, just to get away for a while, or even take a writer’s retreat. Sometimes trying to create in the same office or home setting day after day loses its luster after a while. And taking a few hours at a local café or bookstore works but only temporarily. To put order to those chaotic thoughts, a literal breath of fresh air may be just what any struggling writer needs to finish that manuscript or chapbook.
I’ve compiled ten of the most breathtaking places in the United States–easy to travel to for a weekend getaway or a week-long retreat–to get the writing wheels turning once again.
For the sake of this list, I’m beginning with the West Coast and making my way to the East Coast, hitting a few places in between. Going from my knowledge, I’ve separated each location into two categories: Social and Solitude. Many writers get away to be alone–it’s easy to focus in complete solitude–but sometimes there’s a need to go out and be social to avoid going completely mad.
I’ve also added retreat and residency information with a beautiful and affordable option for each location!
Social: It’s easy to immerse yourself fully in the culture of Alaska, but here are two places that stand apart from the more well known tourist attractions. First, try the University of Alaska Museum of the North. This will keep you busy for hours with wall-to-wall historical artifacts to get your mind out of a rut. If you want to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible, and don’t want to spend time inside a museum, Chugach State Park is the place. Enjoy the sights and sounds of animals and birds in nature, while also exploring the home of the Iditarod Trail.
Solitude: Mendenhall Glacier and the vast forest that precedes it should get any writer over the block. If the idea of being inside of a glacier is unsettling, how about being on the highest point in North America. Denali National Park and Reserve has it all, creating a great sense of revitalization. Also, while in Alaska, be sure to take the time for the Northern Lights.
Retreat: Storyknife Residency in Homer, Alaska. *Women Only!
Social: If you’re looking for culture to inspire you, check out Seattle and Spokane for food, architecture, and landmarks. If you want to get away from the crowds, check out the stunning Maryhill Museum of Art and it’s breathtaking overlook.
Solitude: There are plenty of places to trek to and explore in Washington. As a coastal state, I won’t skimp on mentioning the beaches, but here’s one you won’t have to share with crowds of tourists on summer vacation: the Shi Shi Beach Trail is considered a moderate hike, but it’ll generate plenty of inspiration. If it’s falling water you want, try Narada Falls in Mount Rainier National Park.
Retreat: The Writer’s Refuge on Whidbey Island.
Social: This state is a cultural hub, but if you still want to go off on your own with laptop in tow, check out Cannon Beach with several different spots to visit, from beaches, to restaurants, to art galleries. Can’t stay away from the books, don’t forget to visit Powell’s City of Books.
Solitude: If you want to be adventurous, Mt. Tabor Park in SE Oregon sports a dormant volcano you can hike up. We can’t forget the hidden gem in Oregon that is White River Falls State Park, complete with stunning canyons and waterfalls. Be sure to visit in the warmer months, for it opens in early Spring!
Retreat: Colonyhouse on Mount Hood.
Social: Utah is filled with western history, and there are plenty of free activities to take advantage of in the state. If you do want to learn more about this location, try This is the Place Heritage Park, a living history park that shows visitors 19th century life in the region.
Solitude: Although Utah is a mecca for outdoor activities, Heber Valley is a hidden gem and offers tons of hiking trails, horseback riding, and even scuba diving and skiing. Of course, you can’t avoid the Grand Canyon if you’ve never seen it before, but consider visiting the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park–the quieter side of the canyon.
Retreat: On The River of Discovery on Green River.
Social: If you thought Colorado could only offer beautiful hikes and mountainous peaks, you can also surround yourself with fine arts culture at the, you guessed it, Fine Arts Center. There, the works of Georgia O’Keefe, among others, can be found for inspiration!
Solitude: A beautiful spot tucked away is Gem Lake. There is a stunning lake–the hike might be a bit tough–but it’ll be completely worth it to see the picturesque horizon when you reach the top.
Retreat: Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers at Colorado Springs.
Social: If you want to visit a stunning yet calming spot in Missouri and avoid the hustle and bustle of St. Louis, check out Springfield’s Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden. Ponds, koi fish, blooming florals, bridges, meditation gardens and a tea house will complete your afternoon of tranquility.
Solitude: There are surely many beautiful hikes and overlooks to take in, but there is an absolutely stunning hidden gem known as Blue Spring or Sapphire Spring. It’s also called the “Spring of the Summer Sky” by Native Americans because of its breathtaking color.
Retreat: River Pretty Writers Retreat in Tecumseh.
Social: If you want to get creepy and are into ghost stories and paranormal activity, Savannah is the place to see. There are countless cemeteries to visit but try Bonaventure Cemetery, with beautiful, yet eerie stone sculptures.
Solitude: There are plenty of historical sites to hit up in Savannah, so I found a few stunning waterfall hikes that are short but filled with nature… Try Minnehaha Falls and Helton Creek Falls for hikes just under one mile, but filled with stunning views of the falls.
Retreat: Ossabaw Writers Retreat on Ossabaw Island.
Social: Lewisburg is a good place to stop, with art galleries, specialty shops, and also great bars and restaurants if you want to amp up your festivities.
Solitude: Called the Mountain State for a reason, no matter where you look, you’ll find a stunning trail to hike and take time to think about your writing. Blackwater Falls State Park should leave any visitor with stunning views of water and Appalachian landscapes.
Retreat: The Aurora Project in Cathedral State Park. *All disciplines welcome!
Social: For a relaxed time out and about, Vermont is all about farmers markets. Try Burlington Farmers Market, and then after that, if you’re a fan of apple cider and apple cider donuts like I am, visit Cold Hollow Cider Mill to stock up before you write the next chapter.
Solitude: The Quechee Gorge Trail has the best of both worlds, with trails to walk but also cliffs and falls to take in for great inspiration.
Retreat: When Words Count at Mountain View Farms.
Social: If you want to ski, go for it, but if you want to check out the stunning lighthouses of Maine, start with Marshall Point and work your way up or down the coast as a day trip.
Solitude: Evan’s Notch has a little hidden gem if you reach Rattlesnake Flume and Pond at the end!
Retreat: The Salty Quill on McGee Island.
Thanks for reading!