University of Miami’s Lake Osceola ©Author Adventures

Literary Florida

Florida has been the destination for tropical explorers and warm winter seekers for centuries, attracting legions of writers and illustrators to its shores, relaxing towns, and bustling cities. Our trails lead to the lives of some of Florida’s most influential authors, ending with landings at Florida beach cities. What more could you ask for?

Three Literary Trails: North, South, and West

The statewide path is divided into three regional trails that can be explored individually or connected. Starting in North Florida, our Florida Author Adventures Trail #1 features Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Stephen Crane, Howard Thurman, and two of the many places in Florida associated with Zora Neale Hurston. Between points, this trail is about a five-hour trip, not counting the time for touring the author sites.

Beyond the Trails

In addition to these stops, you can drive past the Jack Kerouac house in the Orlando area, where he lived while working on his classic book, On the Road. The house at 1418 Clouser Avenue is not open to the public, except for school groups by appointment, and would fall between stops C and D of Trail 1 below.

A stop in the Florida panhandle, outside of our three trails, is the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead Park, on the site where the author lived briefly (1891-1892). The park features a marker and is near the historic church of the era, but the house is no longer there. We recommend adding it to the Alabama Author Adventures Trail as it is closer to the Alabama trail than our Florida trails that run north-south. Read about it here: Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead Park.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, also once had a winter home in the Jacksonville area of Florida for many years, but it is no longer accessible. A marker designating the spot remains. Read about it here:

Trail #1 Stops:

Click any link below for author and place information.

A. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Cross Creek
B. Stephen Crane, Daytona Beach
C. Howard Thurman, Daytona Beach
D. Zora Neale Hurston, Eatonville
E. Zora Neale Hurston, Fort Pierce

For the many who fly into Fort Lauderdale and Miami as a launching place to other grand destinations, by sea or by air, you can drive Florida Author Adventures Trail #2 independently of the other two trails, if you extend your time by a few days. Out of respect for vacationing tourists and the proud residents of South Florida, we begin Trail #2 with a fishing pier and end in the paradise of Key West.

Trail # 2 Stops:

Click any link below for author and place information.

A. Martha Munzer, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea
B. Literary Fort Lauderdale
C. David Fairchild, Coconut Grove
D. George Merrick, Coral Gables
E. Robert Frost, Coral Gables
F. Ralph Middleton Munroe, Miami
G. David Fairchild, Coral Gables

If your destination is the West Coast of Florida, take Florida Author Adventures Trail #3. You can also add this trail to Trail #2, if you go there straight from the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden stop (G), instead of going down to Key West. Trail #3 is do-able in a day, including stops for sight-seeing, meals, and ice cream.

At this point, you have the choice of continuing south to add the stops of the Keys or heading west to Trail #3.

To go to Trail #3, instead of the Keys, adding the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Everglades stop (H) along the way, follow this map: Trail #2 to Trail #3.

To continue to the Keys, adding the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Everglades stop (H), use this map: Trail #2 to the Everglades (Main Entrance) and on to Key West.

I. Tennessee Williams, Key West
J. Ernest Hemingway, Key West
K. John James Audubon, Dry Tortugas National Park, Key West (access by ferry)

Trail #3 Stops:

Click any link below for author and place information.

A. J.N. “Ding” Darling, Sanibel
B. Walter Farley, Venice
C. MacKinlay Kantor, Sarasota

Driving Tips: avoid heading south from Fort Lauderdale through Miami at rush hour on your way south. Rush hour starts earlier than you may think and traffic can be intense. Tropical rainstorms don’t make it any better.

Pink Flamingo ©Author Adventures

On the way down, stop for book browsing and a tasty meal at Books & Books, a literary haven in lovely Coral Gables, close to US 1. We especially like the Floridiana section, where you can stock up on books about seashells, Florida cuisine, and local history. If those topics are not enough, remember that no self-respecting tourist can leave Miami without books by ever-popular authors Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen, both longtime residents of South Florida, as well as writing pillar Les Standiford, longtime director of the Creative Writing Program at Florida International University.

Books & Books © Author Adventures

Before leaving the state, consider attending a literary event at the Jack Kerouac Center in Orlando (Jack Kerouac Project), where the writer lived in a small cottage briefly. He also lived in Tampa, but his house there is not open to the public. For more about Jack Kerouac, see his pages in Massachusetts and California.