Best Midwest Spots for Book Lovers

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Book murals, streets and houses that inspired “The Great Gatsby”, and a giant ink pen to honor the writers of Iowa. What do all these fabulous places have in common? They’re all located in the Midwest! If you’re looking for a literary inspired road trip through the eleven states that make up the Midwest, here are a few amazing stops to add to your itinerary.

The Indianapolis Public Library Central Branch has a book tower in the older part of their building. Marvel at the new construction, but be sure to head toward the research rooms to find this gorgeous piece of art. Don’t worry, it’s pretty secure, so you won’t knock a book out of place.

Book Arch.
Location: Indianapolis Public Library Central Branch, 40 E St Clair St, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

Kansas City, MO’s library might have the COOLEST parking garage I’ve ever seen. Painted on the side are larger than life classic novels and the steps leading into the structure are made to look like books. It’s a must see for any bibliophile.

Classic books mural.
Location: Kansas City Public Library Parking Garage, 14 W 10th St, Kansas City, MO 64105.

The Stoney Island Arts Bank in Chicago, Illinois is part library, part community center and was created to celebrate Black History. If you visit, please be respectful of the photo and video policies and take time to learn about the history of the south side of Chicago.

Stoney Island Arts Bank.
Location: 6760 S Stony Island Ave, Chicago, IL 60649.
*Photo credit: Stoney Island Arts Bank.

The Vine Street entrance to the Central Branch of the Cincinnati Public Library has the most amazing book fountain just outside. Created by local artist Michael Frasca, the fountain is said to represent the free flow of information and ideas through the printed word.

Book fountain.
Location: Cincinnati Public Library Central Branch, 800 Vine Street, Cincinnati OH 45202.

Rest stops aren’t normally very exciting, but this tribute to Iowa writers at the Tiffin, IA rest stop is pretty unique. Lots of literary quotes, a giant pen, stone stacks of books and a nature trail – you’ll probably want to spend a few extra minutes at this one.

Tiffin, Iowa Rest Stop’s tribute to Iowa writers.
Location: I-80 Eastbound Mile Marker 237 Tiffin, IA 52778.
*Photo credit: Jerry M. on Yelp.

During a cross country road trip from Indiana to Wyoming, I knew I had to make a stop at the Wizard of Oz museum in Kansas. It looks like they’ve remodeled the outside since I was there and is now a gorgeous emerald green brick. It was pretty fun inside seeing movie props and some original books.

Wizard of Oz Museum.
Location: 511 Lincoln Ave, Wamego, KS 66547.

The longest stretch of Victorian Homes can be found in the city of St. Paul, MN. The homes line about 4.5 miles of Summit Avenue, and famous writers like Sinclair Lewis, Garrison Keillor and F. Scott Fitzgerald lived there. The street is said to be the inspiration behind much of Fitzgerald’s writing.

The Summit Avenue neighborhood features 13 buildings inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing.
Location: St. Paul, MN.
Photo credit: Visit St. Paul.

Not too far from the book arch at the Indianapolis Public Library is a super fun telephone booth that’s also a Little Free Library. Indianapolis has a mixture of public art and Little Free Libraries throughout this city and this is one of my favorites. There are also book benches nearby that feature Indiana authors.

Telephone Booth Little Free Library.
Location: Monon Trail in Carmel, IN next to the Booth Tarkington Civic Center. 3 Carter Green, Carmel, IN 46032.

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