Love the literary life? These NYC suburbs are for you.

Feb 16, 2022

Book festivals, amazing libraries, rich literary histories — these towns were made for readers of all ages.

Avid readers in your family? If so, you’ll want to add the following towns to your list. These neighborhoods are some of the best for bibliophiles. From incredible independent bookstores to super-active public libraries to author visits, book festivals, and, even, opportunities to follow in the footsteps of your favorite writers, these NYC suburbs are worth a visit.

#1. Sleepy Hollow & Tarrytown, NY

This historic town is well-known as the setting of Washington Irving’s 1820 short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Explore the ‘burb and you’ll see references to the Headless Horseman everywhere. The infamous literary figure is on street signs, firetrucks and statues throughout town. Fun fact, Sleepy Hollow was originally known as North Tarrytown but literature-loving residents pushed to rename the town in the 1990s.

Irving had a home in Tarrytown, which you can still tour today. His final resting place — the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery — is a very popular spot to explore around Halloween. Even just strolling through this scenic river town will make you feel like you’ve been transported to the pages of a novel.

#2. Great Neck, NY

Fans of The Great Gatsby might recognize Great Neck right away. F. Scott Fitzgerald and his family lived in this ‘burb for a few years while he worked on the iconic novel. This neighborhood served as inspiration for “West Egg.” There’s a road in Great Neck named “Great Gatsby Way,” which hosts the Gatsby Fest every year.

But that’s just the beginning. Comic book collectors will want to get to know Dylan Universe Comics. This local retailer buys and sells comics online and you never know what might come up for auction. Plus, the Great Neck Library is an excellent resource for both physical and e-reading materials and literacy-focused events.

#3. Port Washington & Sands Point, NY

Across the Bay from Great Neck is Port Washington. Many believe that Fitzgerald used this opulent town, specifically the Sands Point neighborhood, to influence “East Egg” in The Great Gatsby. Some of these Gold Coast mansions were preserved and you can take the family for a hike through the historic landscaped grounds.

Along Port Washington’s Main Street there’s even more for literary lovers. You’ll find The Dolphin Book Store, an independent shop that’s been in town since 1946. In addition to a well-curated selection, this store hosts kid’s programs, author talks (J.K. Rowling once made an appearance) and poetry readings. As you continue exploring, make your way to the Port Washington Library to sign up for the Book Club in a Bag.

#4. Princeton, NJ

Princeton is an amazing community for both writers and readers. As a major university town, it’s no surprise Princeton has been home to countless well-known writers, including many (like Fitzgerald!) who attended the school. The Princeton Writes group occasionally leads historic literary walking tours through town. These highlight the area’s many literary connections, including locations from This Side of Paradise.

If you wind up in Princeton, you’ll always have access to tons of bookstores. There’s The Cloak & Dagger for mystery books and The Labyrinth for academic titles and literary events. Plus, a Barnes & Noble for any other book you’re looking for.

#5. Montclair, NJ

Montclair is a hub for many journalists, authors and publishers. The semi-autobiographical story Cheaper by the Dozen was even based in this town.

When you’re in the mood to browse the shelves, there are plenty of great options in Montclair. Head to the Montclair Book Center to check out their selection of new, used and rare titles. The Watchung Booksellers is a top choice for kids and young adult books. They also have book clubs for all ages and frequently host authors for community events. And if you end up moving to Montclair, you’ll want to get a public library card right away.

#6. ​​Greenwich, CT

The Greenwich Library has something for every type of writer and reader. The youngest readers can attend storytime and comic book fans can check out digital resources with their library cards. Plus, the library offers a few different book clubs for adults.

This town is also big on writing. For more than a decade, students from local schools have participated in the Greenwich Writers Festival. This event includes screenwriting workshops, lectures from guest authors and more.

7. Chappaqua, NY

The annual Children’s Book Festival is always a hit with local families. If you end up calling Chappaqua home, you can bring your kids to this free event each October. Families from all around Westchester bring their littles for a day of storytimes, author talks, and illustration demonstrations.

There’s still plenty for families to enjoy throughout the rest of the year, too. Check out the independent Scattered Books for an impressive selection of books for kids and adults. Your kids can even host future birthday parties here. The Chappaqua Library has tons of resources for cardholders, including free museum passes, author talks, storytime and homework help.

#8. Westport, CT

Many writers, including J.D. Salinger and Shirley Jackson, have called Westport home. And if you have a budding author in the family, this town is the place to be. Both beginning and advanced writers can sign up for workshops with Westport Writers’ to hone their skills. Courses focus on memoirs, screenwriting, historical fiction, and much more.

In addition to traditional resources, The Westport Library has an events calendar full of activities. StoryFest is the state’s largest literary event. Each year, award-winning and new authors give lectures at this festival. This is a perfect opportunity to connect with other literature fans in the community.

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