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A Nora Roberts-Themed Road Trip Full of Romance and Intrigue

A Nora Roberts-Themed Road Trip Full of Romance and Intrigue

Outside of a green bookstore

If you’ve ever considered pairing literature with travel and cultural experiences, you should embark on a Nora Roberts-themed road trip! 

Maryland native Nora Roberts is one of the most prolific and accomplished novelists of our time. She has written more than 200 New York Times bestsellers and sold over half a billion books worldwide. She writes romance, suspense, futuristic murder mysteries, and fantasy novels set in places around the world. Several of her books are set in our favorite state: Maryland. 

The Next Always in Boonsboro

The Next Always is the first book in the Inn Boonsboro Trilogy, a series of contemporary romance books inspired by the Inn BoonsBoro on the Square, a historic bed and breakfast built in the 1790s. The inn, located in Boonsboro, Maryland, was lovingly restored by Nora Roberts and her husband Bruce Wilder. 

book at Inn
Photo Credit: Inn Boonsboro

Roberts fans from all over the world visit the Inn Boonsboro to step inside the beloved trilogy. The inn contains many special touches from the book (or vice versa), from gourmet food and memorable decor to stylistic details on the floor and ceilings in the communal areas. Guests who stay at the inn can choose from eight upscale suites with personalized amenities, including a luxurious penthouse suite and seven suites themed around romantic couples in literature. 

The “Westley and Buttercup” room at Inn BoonsBoro
The “Westley and Buttercup” room at Inn BoonsBoro. Photo Credit: Inn BoonsBoro

Other establishments owned by Roberts and Wilder are nearby, including the Gifts Inn BoonsBoro, the Turn the Page Bookstore, and Fit in BoonsBoro, a fitness center with exercise equipment and a sauna. If you can’t make it to Boonsboro, you can order items online from the gift shop and bookstore, including autographed and personalized Nora Roberts books. 

Turn the Page Bookstore
Photo Credit: Turn the Page Bookstore

Sea Swept on the Maryland Shore

Sea Swept is the first novel in Nora Roberts’ Chesapeake Bay Saga, a popular four-book series about the Quinn brothers who live in the historic crabbing community of St. Christopher, Maryland. St. Christopher, a make-believe town, is very similar to the real Chesapeake Bay town of Crisfield. 

With nicknames like the “Last Gem of the Chesapeake,” “Crab Capital of the World,” and the “Seafood Capital of the World,” Crisfield is a great place to go to experience the food and culture described in Sea Swept. You can find many delicious seafood restaurants, and for more than 75 years, the town has hosted the Crisfield National Hard Crab Derby, an annual Labor Day weekend event on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The Somers Cove Marina in the heart of Crisfield offers easy access to the bay, so you can go sailing, fishing, or day cruising.

Photo Credit: Laura Scharle

The book also mentions the (real) town of Princess Anne, Maryland, about 20 miles from Crisfield. If you’d like to stay in a Victorian house just like the character of Anna, you could try the Princess Anne Book Lovers Inn, a historic bed and breakfast with literary-themed rooms. 

Photo Credit: The Crab Place

If you can’t make the road trip to Crisfield yet and need a taste of the Chesapeake sooner rather than later, place an order with The Crab Place in Crisfield. They’ll ship a mouthwatering crab feast right to your door! 

Blue Smoke in Baltimore

Blue Smoke is a thrilling cat-and-mouse mystery from Nora Roberts featuring an arson investigator and a dangerous villain playing with fire. Parts of the story are set in the family pizza place, Sirico’s, in the Little Italy neighborhood in Baltimore. (Fun Easter Egg: If you ever go to the Inn BoonsBoro in Boonsboro, Maryland, look for a Sirico’s Pizzeria sign. It is somewhere on the property.)

The Little Italy neighborhood is a fun place to visit any time of the year, but to stick with the fiery theme of the book, you may want to go during the Feast of St Anthony Italian Festival, an annual event held since 1904 to honor St. Anthony, whose intervention saved the neighborhood from a terrible fire that ripped through downtown Baltimore. Nowadays, the festival lasts for three days in June and features Italian food and drinks, a bocce tournament, street vendors, and a Giant Meatball Contest.

The BlancNoir Bed and Breakfast offers modern accommodations right in the heart of Little Italy. You can find pizza, scampi, and other delicious Italian foods mentioned in the book at neighborhood favorites like Isabella’s Brick Oven Pizza, Sabatino’s Italian Restaurant, and La Scala Ristorante Italiano.

cannolis from Vaccaro's
Photo Credit: Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry

If you can’t make it to the Little Italy neighborhood, you can have a taste of the neighborhood shipped to you by ordering a few sweet treats from Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop, makers of the finest Siciliano pastries in Baltimore since 1956.

Unfinished Business in Maryland’s Blue Ridge Mountains

Nora Roberts’ Unfinished Business is a small-town romance set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Maryland. Catoctin Mountain and South Mountain make up Maryland’s portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

You’ll find plenty of forests, apple orchards, dairy farms, and rolling countryside in the foothills of these mountains, exactly as described in the story.

You can pick your own apples at Catoctin Mountain Orchard in Thurmont, sip wine at the Catoctin Breeze, a family-owned vineyard in the northeastern foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, or take a tour of South Mountain Creamery, a working 3,300-acre farm in the scenic Middletown Valley.

Photo Credit: South Mountain Creamery

To see a concert pianist (like Vanessa, the main character in the story), you can visit Maryland Theatre, a 1,300-seat theatre in Hagerstown (a town specifically mentioned in the book). The Maryland Theatre hosts concerts, plays, dance performances, and movies.

The Maryland Theatre
Photo Credit: The MarylandTheatre

The theatre is also home to the Maryland Symphony Orchestra. (Note: Hagerstown and the surrounding area are also settings in Nora Roberts’ book Divine Evil.) 

And if you’re looking for a place to stay, it’s hard to beat the views of rolling countryside from Antietam Overlook Farm, a 19th-century style farmhouse inn on a 95-acre mountain ridge near Roberts’ hometown.

Feature Photo Credit: Anna Champagne

About the Author

Anna Champagne is an outdoor writer, photographer, and traveler. She can often be found gardening and birdwatching in her backyard and exploring creeks, trails, marshes, and parks with her husband. Anna lives in Frederick County, Maryland. You can learn more about her on her website

Maryland Road Trips is a part of Postern Publishing.
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