fairy tale destinations
St. Augustine famously said “the world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Books have the power to transport us across the world. From the North Pole to the jungles of Africa, the stories we read with our children can inspire a life-long passion for travel. Today we’re visiting the settings of beloved fairy tales and classic children’s books to inspire your next family getaway. So pack your suitcase and get ready for a page-turning…
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Do you love the outdoors so much that not even a rainy day can stop you from finding adventure? If so, our first storybook destination is perfect for you. Travel company Black Tomato has gone above and beyond to create a very special trip based on Jules Verne’s famous novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Before your feet even hit the ground, you’ll receive a package containing a “book, letter, and puzzle” to prepare you for what is to come. Armed with these clues, you’ll travel across Iceland, truly immersing yourself into this fantastical world. You’ll visit a volcano magma chamber, traverse the Snæfellsnes peninsula, snorkel between tectonic plates in the Silfra Fissure, explore the Jökulsárlón lagoon, and experience the wonder of Vatnshellir Lava Cave. Black Tomato has paid such attention to detail in curating this experience that you’ll feel like you’ve become a part of the story yourself.
The Little Mermaid
Sometimes, travel is better “under the sea.” For our next destination, we’re headed to the Weeki Wachee Springs near Tampa, Florida. Weeki Wachee Springs are formed from a network of limestone caves buried beneath much of Florida. At Weeki Wachee, you’ll meet real-life mermaids as they dance through the sparkling water in their own production of The Little Mermaid. They also take visitors on a journey back in time, exploring the history of Weeki Wachee Springs. Opened in 1947, visitors have been flocking to this fairy tale destination for 70 years to make their mermaid dreams come true.
After seeing the show, test out your sea legs at the Buccaneer Bay water park, fed by the natural springs. You can also explore by kayak or venture under the sea with a snorkel and fins. Some visitors have even encountered a Florida manatee! For travelers who wish to further immerse themselves in mermaid life, Weeki Wachee offers summer mermaid camps for children to earn their flippers. Campers can even send a letter to a mermaid or prince through the park’s Tail Mail literacy program! Just like the story of the Little Mermaid, Weeki Wachee is sure to delight travelers both young and old.
Did you know that you can visit the town where Pinocchio lived? Nope, we’re not telling tall tales here—travelers can visit everyone’s favorite fibber in Italy. Amid the rolling hills of Tuscany, just outside Florence lies the town of Collodi. Pinocchio’s author Carlo Collodi grew up here, and the story of Pinocchio helped put it on the map as a premiere travel destination. Pinocchio was published in 1881 and first released in a magazine. Although Collodi didn’t intend for his story to have a happy ending, the children who loved the character convinced him to change it. Before traveling to Collodi, be sure to read Pinocchio together to prepare for your family’s visit.
Today, visitors can relive Pinocchio’s adventures. One of Collodi’s most magical attractions is Pinocchio Park where brave souls can enter the mouth of the giant fish who swallowed Pinocchio. Whimsical statues of the fabled character and his friends can be found throughout the park along with detailed mosaics, fun and games. Visitors can even stop by the puppet theater to meet the boy himself. No trip is complete without a hand-carved Pinocchio from the Bartolucci shop. Wherever this fairy tale takes you, it’s sure to be an adventure when you visit the birthplace of Pinnocchio.
Let’s face it, who hasn’t dreamt of living “in an old house in Paris that was covered with vines?” Written in 1939 by Ludwig Bemelmans, Madeleine has inspired generations of children to visit France, seeking adventure just as this little orphan girl always did. As a family, you too can visit the special places found between the pages of this storybook, perhaps even learning some French along the way.
Once you’ve arrived in Paris, grab a copy of this beloved book and off you go— bringing Madeleine’s many adventures to life. Stroll through the streets in search of her house and “break their bread” at a French café. Visit the Place Vendôme, the Institut de France, and the Eiffel Tower, imagining you’re with Madeleine herself. Test out your vocal cords as you visit the Paris Opera and take in the fresh air at the enchanting Tuileries Gardens. You can even climb up Montmatre to visit the Sacre Coeur church and look out over all of Paris. Learn how one little girl named Simi brought Madeleine’s story to life »
For our final adventure, we’ll meet a bear that could, quite possibly, be more well-traveled than us. Paddington bear hails from Darkest Peru, but is discovered in London by the Brown family. Michael Bond first wrote about Paddington bear in1958, but this furry friend continues his grand adventures even today. If you haven’t seen the Paddington films, it’s a great place to start before boarding your flight to London—don’t forget to pack some marmalade for the trip!
Paddington’s life in the jungles of Peru is a far cry from London, but like any good traveler, he’s excited to discover new places and meet new people. Your journey begins the same as his, at the Paddington statue of Platform 1 in Paddington Station. Ponder how he must have felt standing among this crowd of strangers, the only bear in a sea of people. Then head to the nearest café for some tea and pastries—this was Paddington’s first meal in London. Stroll through the streets of Primrose Hill to find Paddington’s house and search for an “Old Master” painting along Portobello road in Notting Hill. Hop aboard a red double decker bus and make your way to the River Thames for an afternoon picnic. For more fun Paddington stories and travel inspiration, visit the official Paddington website »
The characters we meet and the places we visit in books are often a child’s first introduction to travel. Finding a way to bring these adventures to life is one way we can feed their growing curiosity about the world and, hopefully, it’s the first chapter in a lifetime of travel!
fairy tale destinations
About the Writer: Laura Paquette
Laura Paquette is a freelance writer who speaks English, Spanish, and is currently learning Portuguese. Since she was a child, she’s been fascinated by the world of stories and the stories of the world. As an avid traveler, Laura encourages everyone to explore the world, from their own city to a new country. When she’s not traveling, Laura can be found watching movies, reading, searching for the best local coffee shops, and writing. You can read more about her adventures at https://laurabetweenthelines.com/.
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