Retreats on the Cheap

by Staff
From the March/April 2009 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

Here we offer a sampling of budget itineraries for do-it-yourself retreats in Boston, Massachusetts; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Savannah, Georgia; and Taos, New Mexico. We invite you to supplement these by posting comments or to submit your own itineraries by sending them to with Cheap Retreats in the subject line.

Boston, Massachusetts

There are several motels in the surrounding area with rooms from $60 to $80.

If you're travelling in a group, Hostelling International Boston at 12 Hemenway Street has six-bed dorm rooms for $30 to $60 and private rooms for more.

Literary Destinations
Boston Public Library, located at 700 Boylston Street, was established in 1852 and was the first public library in the United States (free). 

The Grolier Poetry Book Shop is located in Harvard Square. It is the the oldest continuous poetry book seller in the United States and has over 15,000 poetry books for sale (free).

If you’re visiting during April, register for the Muse & the Marketplace, which takes place this year from April 25th to Sunday April 26th at the Park Plaza Hotel at 50 Park Plaza in Boston and offers workshops, lectures, and seminars about the craft of writing and publishing ($320 for a full weekend pass).

Drive about twenty miles west of Boston to visit Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, where Henry David Thoreau lived from July 1845 to September 1847 and on which his book Walden is based. Now a National Historic Landmark, Walden Pond is surrounded by two-thousand acres of woods and is considered the birthplace of the conservation movement.

Also about twenty miles west of Boston is Wellesley, Massachusetts, home, at various times, to poets Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. Drive by 26 Elmwood Road where Plath spent most of her youth. But be respectful, it’s a private home (free). For lunch, stop in at the Cheese Shop on Central Street in downtown Wellesley for gourmet cheese and baguette and dine on a stone bench overlooking Lake Waban on the Wellesley College campus (famous alumuni include Hillary Rodham Clinton).

Food and Drink
In Harvard Square take a load off at Grendel's Den & Restaurant at 89 Winthrop Street, which has a wide selection of imported and domestic beers as well as a reasonable menu. And it's a certified green restaurant ($8 to $15 for entrees).

If you have an extra $15 plus tip to spare, order a martini at the bar at the Taj Boston hotel at 15 Arlington Street, previously the Ritz-Carlton where confessional poets Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton used to drink martinis and workshop poems. Afterward, stroll through the Boston Public Gardens across the street (free).

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Cheap Retreats

You are right on about Milwaukee. Woodland Pattern is a must stop. The Poetry Marathon the last Saturday in January is magnificent. If you want nature, travel to Door County 150 miles north. The South Nest Retreat is a three bedroom house in the boreal forest. Rents are reasonable and by the room or whole house. or 920-839-2191

Retreats on the Cheap

Sheesh! You forgot about hostels. Forget the "youth" hostels of yesteryear...the new, independent hostels offer clean and tidy accommodations to hip people of any age. They also offer private rooms, free internet/wifi access, communal spaces, kitchens, and are often set in travel-worthy inspirational locales. I understand your focus is on the United States, but a great place to stay (though I'm slightly biased on this!)is at Krumlov House, in the beautiful village of Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic or, Have a look at the LODGINGS section at , which features worldwide budget accommodations with up to the minute reviews. At Literary Bohemian, you'll find links to US and International writing retreats as well as "must-see-ums" (museums) of writing. Happy Trails! Carolyn