My Kind of Town

"My Kind of Town" invites prominent authors to write about the towns or cities where they live or with which they've had a strong association. These are not your average travel stories, but pieces filled with highly colorful and personal observations that evoke a strong sense of place. Contributors have included the late Studs Terkel on Chicago, Bill Bryson on his boyhood Des Moines, and Geraldine Brooks on Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts.

My Kind of Town:

My Kind of Town

Recently Added My Kind of Town

Spotlight On...

Keeping it Weird

By ZZ Packer
Even though it's the state capital, the city still works hard to be quirky
Read More about Austin, Texas »

Explore More My Kind of Towns

Fairhope, Alabama

An Easy Place

By Rick Bragg
A hardscrabble son finds forgiving soil along a stretch of Mobile Bay

Fayettville, Arkansas

Watching Water Run

By Ellen Gilchrist
Uncomfortable in a world of privilege, a novelist headed for the hills

Los Angeles, California

Have Roots, Will Travel

By Lisa See
Like the four generations of Angelenos who preceded her, the best-selling author likes to get around

San Francisco, California

"Mad, Stark Mad"

By Armistead Maupin
Thirty-five years after "defecting" to the Barbary Coast, the bestselling novelist still loves his city by the bay

Santa Barbara, California

Nature Boy

By T.C. Boyle
Fauna and flora (not all of it welcome) surround the novelist at his onetime fixer-upper by Frank Lloyd Wright

Telluride, Colorado

Out of the Box

By Antonya Nelson
The fiction writer calls Telluride's anti-commercialism—epitomized by a landmark swap stop—worth fighting for

Oxford, England

Among the Spires

By Jan Morris
Between medieval and modern, Oxford seeks equilibrium

Sugarloaf Key, Florida

Keeping Company

By Barbara Ehrenreich
Observing ibises and kayaking among sharks, the noted writer savors life "up this Keys"

Atlanta, Georgia

Some Don't Like It Hot

By Melissa Fay Greene
Atlantans regard summer—and the overheated tourists it spawns—woefully

Boise, Idaho

Staying Power

By Anthony Doerr
Big skies and colorful characters bind the versatile writer to his adopted home

Chicago, Illinois

A City Called Heaven

By Studs Terkel
America's best-known oral historian tells his own story

Lafayette, Indiana

Well Grounded

By Patricia Henley
She didn't plan on staying, but more than 20 years later the novelist embraces her adopted community

Des Moines, Iowa

Boys' Life

By Bill Bryson
In 1950s Des Moines, childhood was "unsupervised, unregulated and robustly physical"

Kyoto, Japan

Forever Foreign

By Pico Iyer
Though he had lived in an around Kyoto for two decades, the author remains both fascinated and puzzled by the ancient Japanese city

Lexington, Kentucky

Splendor in the Bluegrass

By Kim Edwards
Far from her Northern roots, the best-selling novelist discovers a new sense of home amid rolling hills and Thoroughbred farms

New Orleans, Louisiana

Beyond Bourbon Street

By Randy Fertel
From out-of-the-way jazz joints to po' boy shacks, a native son shares his favorite haunts in the Big Easy

East Boothbay, Maine

At Home. For Now

By Richard Ford
The acclaimed novelist probes our yearning for a fixed address

Baltimore, Maryland

Bleeve It, Hon

By Frank Deford
The tentative city the sportswriter grew up in has regained a bit of swagger

Boston, Massachusetts

Urbane Renewal

By Claire Messud
Claire Messud, the best-selling author of The Emperor's Children, discovers the grown-up pleasures of her adolescent playground

Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts

Washed Ashore

By Geraldine Brooks
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks delights in the allure of Martha's Vineyard's off-season

Worthington, Minnesota

Fenced In

By Tim O'Brien
The novelist revisits his past to come to terms with his rural hometown

Missoula, Montana

Town and Country

By Rick Bass
The prolific author trades wilderness for city life, Montana style

Lincoln, Nebraska

Plains Speaking

By Meghan Daum
A New Yorker gets a new perspective on the prarie

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Mile-High Multiculturalism

By Tony Hillerman
The creator of savvy Native American sleuths explains why he cherishes his Southwestern high desert home

Las Vegas, Nevada

Winner Take All

By J.R. Moehringer
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist rolls the dice on life in Sin City

New York, New York

You got a problem with that?

By Joan Acocella
Why do New Yorkers seem rude? A noted critic and essayist has a few ideas

New York, New York

Five Years Later

By Pete Hamill
Tourists flock to the World Trade Center site, but for New Yorkers, 9/11 is history

Cleveland, Ohio

Second Acts

By Charles Michener
The author finds signs of renewal in his oft-maligned hometown

Portland, Oregon

Twice Charmed

By Katherine Dunn
The Pacific Northwest city captivated the author first when she was an adventure-seeking adolescent and again as an adult

Newport, Rhode Island

Beyond the Fringes

By Jonathan Yardley
The author traces some abiding infatuations—and old antagonisms—to his seaside boyhood home

Charleston, South Carolina

Steeped in Story

By Josephine Humphreys
The lyrical novelist says the city is more than her hometown, it's her life

Houston, Texas

Southern Comfort

By Mark Doty
Celebrated poet Mark Doty succumbs to Houston's humid charms

Danville, Virginia

Hallowed Ground

By Ernest B. Furgurson
The town's Civil War cemeteries depended a boy's view of history

Seattle, Washington

In Seattle, a Northwest Passage

By Charles Johnson
He arrived unsure of what to expect—but the prolific author quickly embraced Seattle's energizing diversity

Buckhannon, West Virginia

House Calls and Tree Houses

By Jayne Anne Phillips
HA community in the Allegheny foothills was "the perfect birthplace for a writer"


Follow Us

Smithsonian Journeys