Ready to chase a writer to the coast? Find a favorite among these five irresistible destinations.

By Kim Brown Seely
August 21, 2017

On the island-dotted coast between Charleston and Savannah lies a Lowcountry gem. The South Carolina town of Beaufort (pronounced BYEW-furt), at the east end of Port Royal Island, combines Southern warmth and a history as piquant as Beaufort stew (a spicy seafood boil). Founded three centuries ago, downtown Beaufort is a National Landmark Historic District, with restored 18th- and 19th-century buildings that live today as family housing and retail space.

Walk down waterfront Bay Street and you're following in the footsteps of bold pirates, Colonial shipbuilders, rich planters, and (during the Civil War) Union soldiers. Nearby, huge live oaks draped in Spanish moss loom over streets lined with handsome antebellum houses, signs of wealth from the indigo, rice, and cotton trade.

Photographer: Peter Frank Edwards

Beaufort, South Carolina

Home of Pat Conroy

Book notes: One of the great chroniclers of the Lowcountry was a student in this town and returned to his alma mater to teach high school. And while his official time in this part of the South may have been brief, the Lowcountry plays a prominent role in many of Conroy's best-loved novels, including The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides.

Pilgrimage power move: The newly launched Pat Conroy Literary Center in Beaufort aims to be a center for meetings and book clubs, and for encouraging the literary life that Conroy embodied.

Key West, Florida

Home of Ernest Hemingway
Book notes: Hemingway wrote all or part of five books, a play, and two of his most famous short stories in Key West, where he lived from 1928 to 1939. It was also here that he forged his macho image: fishing, drinking, carousing.

Pilgrimage power move: Head to Captain Tony's Saloon, where Hemingway went to drink his scotch-and-sodas—and where he met his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, when the bar was called Sloppy Joe's.

Photo: Chris Hackett/Getty Images

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Home of Elin Hilderbrand
Book notes: Her millions of fans know that this wildly popular novelist of summer beach-read romance novels lives on the island that is often the setting of her work.

Pilgrimage power move: "Nantucket—a Weekend with Elin Hilderbrand" is a cult bucket-list event that already has a waiting list for the 2018 dates in January.

Carousel Bar & Lounge at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans
Photo: Cedric Angeles

New Orleans, Louisiana

Home of William Faulkner, Anne Rice, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and so many more
Book notes: Myriad authors have called New Orleans home, but these may be her most famous sons and daughters. Some, such as Capote, were born here. Others, including Williams, claimed the city as their spiritual home. And then others, such as Rice, have created a spiritual tourism in the city.

Pilgrimage power move: This depends on your favorite author. A good place to start may be at the Carousel Bar & Lounge at the Hotel Monteleone, joining the legions of literati who've eaten, drunk, and slept here. Williams's favorite hotel, it's the headquarter hotel for the annual literary festival every March that bears his name.

Photo: Peter Unger/Getty Images

Prince Edward Island, Canada

Home of Lucy Maud Montgomery
Book notes: Fans of the plucky, redheaded (and eponymous) heroine of Anne of Green Gables will know that this windswept and pastoral 139-mile-long island on Canada's Atlantic Coast is the setting for the beloved novel, published in 1908. It is also the birthplace of the novelist, and where she wrote her famous work.

Pilgrimage power move: Catch Anne of Green Gables: The Musical, an annual high point of the Charlottetown Festival, which runs from late June through late September.