Bookish Destinations for Date Night
Well-developed characters and plots are undoubtedly important to the reading experience, but the environments also play a key role. Ask a book lover what their favorite part of a story is, and you're almost guaranteed to hear about the settings and aesthetics.
This week, we thought it would be fun to talk about some of our favorite bookish destinations from a romantic standpoint; which settings would make for the best fictional date night?
Keep scrolling to see our top choices!
[NOTE: Click the art to visit the artists' pages.]
“Where are we going?"
Rhy's smile widened into a grin. "To Velaris—the City of Starlight.”
Velaris, capital of the Night Court in the fae realm of Prythian, would be a prime location for stargazing or taking a moonlit stroll along the Sidra river. If you're in the mood for crowds or a party, you can head to the Rainbow for shopping, eateries, or drinking and dancing at Rita's. If you're more of an introvert whose idea of a good time is peace and quiet, the House of Wind's library holds a variety of books––and the view from atop the mountain would be breathtaking and peaceful.
The city had been built like a crust atop the rolling, steep hills that flanked the river, the buildings crafted from white marble or warm sandstone. [. . .] There, like the eternal guardians of the city, towered a wall of flat-topped mountains of red stone [. . .]. They curved around the northern edge of Velaris, to where the river bent toward them and flowed into their shadow.
The most romantic time to visit Velaris would be Starfall, the one night out of the year where spirits that resemble falling stars make their way across the sky in droves, lighting up the night.
Another star crossed the sky, twirling and twisting over itself, as if it were reveling in its own sparkling beauty. It was chased by another, and another, until a brigade of them were unleashed from the edge of the horizon, like a thousand archers had loosed them from mighty bows.
When considering romantic destinations, France is often brought up. It’s a sensual country with stunning architecture, art museums, theaters, and cozy cafes pumping out decadent treats—which always adds to the experience of reading a good book.
If you’ve for a sweet tooth like Lou, the protagonist of the Serpent & Dove trilogy, indulging in authentic French pastries at Pan’s Patisserie in Cesarine is a dream.
I glanced toward the patisserie’s window. All manner of pastries perched there on glorious display: iced cakes and sugar loaves and chocolat tartlets, as well as macarons and fruit danishes of every color. Raspberry eclairs and an apple tarte tatin completed the display.
Out of all this decadence, however, the enormous sticky buns—with their cinnamon and sweet cream—made my mouth truly water.
THE LAST WORD BOOKSTORE
One can't go wrong with taking a book lover to a bookstore on date night. Even better when that book shop has a resident orange tabby (appropriately named Book) and is run by nerdy eye-candy.
Set off from the curb, and down a short flight of steps, there is a shop half-hidden by the line of the street. The awning was clearly once purple, but has long faded toward gray, though the shop’s name is still legible, picked out in white lettering.
The Last Word.
A used bookstore, […] the windows brimming with stacked spines. […] This shop is a labyrinth of stacks and shelves, texts stacked two, even three deep, leather beside paper beside board.
In a shop like this, a book lover could easily spend all day sifting through the stacks of hidden gems and playing with Book. Yet since this particular store is located in the heart of Brooklyn, New York, there is tons to do and see before or after you stop in.
THE PALACE OF ELFHAME
We're obsessed with faeries, so of course we'd love to actually be able to go to the Land of Faerie. Especially when it's ruled by one of our OTP's—a knife-happy human girl and her snarky fae husband.
Off the coast of the North-Atlantic US, the isles of Elfhame are hidden from humans. Insmire is the main island where, situated between the Crooked Forest and Milkwood, the Palace of Elfhame is built into a hill beneath a giant tree.
It is well after midnight when we arrive at the great hill at the Palace of Elfhame. To go inside, we must ride between two trees, an oak and a thorn, and then straight into what appears to be the stone wall of an abandoned folly. I’ve done it hundreds of times, but I flinch anyway. My whole body braces, I grip the reins hard, and my eyes mash shut.
When I open them, I am inside the hill. We ride on through a cavern, between pillars of roots, over packed earth. There are dozens of the Folk here, crowding around the entrance to the vast throne room, where Court is being held […].
The Palace of Elfhame is packed with bodies. The unallied wild fey, courtiers, and monarchs mingle together. Selkies from Queen Orlagh’s Court of the Undersea speak together in their own language, skins slung from their shoulders like capes. […] There’s music everywhere, urging a lightness of step.
Attending one of the lavish parties and exploring the numerous secret alcoves and corridors under the hill sounds like a dream—so long as you have protection and don’t eat the Everapple that turns humans into suggestive puppets for the faeries’ entertainment.
Despite its dark history, the Lunar Palace seems like an awe-inspiring destination. A sci-fi setting with a fantasy twist, this kingdom on the moon boasts gorgeous dome-covered cities made of basalt rock, titanium, silicon, and cast regolith, giving most of the buildings a matte black color. Jutting out from the brilliant white Lunar Palace in the capital city of Artemisia is a glass bridge that provides a stunning view of the city, ever-present stars, and Earth.
The throne room, in the central tower of the palace, had the most striking view in the city. From her seat, Winter could see Artemisia Lake mirroring the white palace and the city reaching for the edge of the enormous clear dome that sheltered them from the outside elements—or lack thereof. The throne room itself extended past the walls of the tower, so that when one passed beyond the edge of the mosaic floor, they found themselves on a ledge of clear glass.
Inside the palace are theaters, game rooms, and a massive menagerie.
Winter’s heart fluttered as she pushed open the massive glass door to the menagerie. Sounds of wildlife spilled into the corridor—squawking birds in their palatial cages, monkeys chattering from overhead vines, white stallions neighing in distant stables.
She shut the door before the heat could escape and scanned the forked pathways […]. The menagerie took up several acres of this wing of the palace, a labyrinth of barred cages and glass enclosures. It was always humid and perfumed with exotic flowers, an aroma that barely covered up the animal scent.
All right, yes, we have a bit of a fantasy and faerie/elf obsession around here. Can you blame us? Between the book descriptions and the beautiful cinematics of the Peter Jackson movies, Rivendell is everything a book nerd could want out of a romantic location: a glorious castle and elven city amid breathtaking mountains and waterfalls deep in the forest, away from any mortal civilization. One can only imagine the shops, taverns, and romantic nature spots you might find there.
[Frodo] walked along the terraces above the loud-flowing Bruinen and watched the pale, cool sun rise above the far mountains, and shine down, slanting through the thin silver mist; the dew upon the yellow leaves was glimmering, and the woven nets of gossamer twinkled on every bush.
WONDERLAND TEA PARTY
Another obsession of ours is Wonderland! Its varied landscape that has a mind of its own and changes as one explores holds wonders galore (hence the name). Talking plants, rose-covered mazes, and treats that hold magical properties are just some of the excitements in this topsy-turvy place.
While a proper tea party would be enjoyable, it sounds even more exciting with the dash of whimsy and madness that comes from spending time with the Mad Hatter and his friends. Who wouldn't love to play riddle games and enjoy laughter over the silliest things while indulging in all those delicious cakes and pastries?
What are some of your favorite bookish destinations that would make for a perfect date? Drop those recs below so we can check them out!
If you enjoyed this post, you might like the others in our Bookish Romance series:
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