The Ultimate John Green Literary Road Trip to Inspire Any Nerdfighter

John Green road map

So, you’ve read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Or maybe you saw the movie. Or both! Multiple times! You laughed and you cried (a LOT) and suddenly you find yourself dreaming of biking alongside a canal in Amsterdam and exploring Hazel and Gus’ wish city for yourself. Sigh. Het mooie paar is mooiDe mooie stad is prachtig!

John Green doesn't mean to break our hearts

He doesn’t mean to break our hearts. Really!

And then you hear that one of John Green’s other novels, Paper Towns is going to be getting the movie treatment now too (starring Nat Wolff aka Issac in TFiOS, no less!) and you’re thinking “What else am I missing??”

Nerdy seduction?

This, for starters.

Or, y’know, maybe you already know what you’d hypothetically be missing because you’ve read all of John’s books and you’re hooked, throwing up the Nerdfighter hand sign at every given opportunity like some nerdy hooligan and signing all of your correspondence with DFTBA. I mean, I KNOW that’s not just me, right?

See Candice, it doesn’t matter whether you’re new to John’s YA work or a long time fan, it’s not unusual to feel inspired by his books. I already wrote about all of the places in Amsterdam any Fault Fanatic would want to check out, but what about a travel itinerary based on the rest of the John Green library?

Well, fellow Nerdfighter, you’re in luck. I’ve pulled together the ultimate John Green-inspired road trip, featuring all of the American cities and towns featured in his novels and/or the places that inspired them! You can check out the full interactive Google Map here but here are the highlights (Note, mild spoilers ahead. I do my best to keep things vague but, y’know, you’ve been warned):


Birmingham, Alabama

In John’s first novel, Looking for Alaska, Miles “Pudge” Halter attends Culver Creek Preparatory School somewhere in Alabama. Well, Culver Creek isn’t a real school but Indian Springs School, the school that John Green attended as a teen, sure is!


Chicago, Illinois

Ah, Chicago. The windy city actually gets a lot of love in John’s books. In An Abundance of Katherines, Chicago is Colin and Hassan’s hometown and the starting point of their epic road trip! Chicago is also the setting of Will Grayson, Will Grayson (well, technically Will and Tiny live in Evanson, a Chicago suburb, but… Chicago!) They say that authors often write best by writing what they know, which makes sense in this case because Chicago is also where John worked as a children’s hospital chaplain while he attended the University of Chicago Divinity School – an experience which ultimately went on to inspire The Fault in Our Stars.

While you’re there, why not extend your Nerdfighter experience by visiting The Field Museum of Natural History. Emily Graslie, host of the popular series The Brain Scoop works there as the chief curiosity correspondent. Her show is produced by none other than John’s brother, Hank!


Skullbone, Tennessee

So, Gutshot – the small town where Colin and Hassan meet Lindsay in An Abundance of Katherines – isn’t actually a real place. Sorry, I know that’s a devastating blow. BUT! It was inspired by Skullbone, John’s grandmother’s hometown, which is just as good, right? Much like Gutshot I don’t imagine there’s a whole lot going on in Skullbone but you could always look for the bridge from John’s “shoe man” story. Also, I think “I survived Skullbone” would look badass on a t-shirt. Context be damned.


Orlando, Florida

Not only is Orlando Quentin and Margo’s hometown in Paper Towns, John himself also called it home for a good chunk of time too! I know Margo wouldn’t approve but… Disney World, anyone?


Agloe, NY

Yep, it’s a real place! Well, sort of… I won’t go into a lot of detail about this one because I’d run the risk of getting kind of spoilery but check the map if you want to know more!


Indianapolis, Indiana

John Green made his own home city into the setting of The Fault in Our Stars. Give yourself an authentic Nerdfighter experience by having your own Dutch-inspired picnic at the real life “Funky Bones” art installation like Hazel and Gus did at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (you’ll have to bring your own cheese and tomato sandwiches though!)


All in all, this itinerary would make for a pretty fun road trip down the eastern United States! The map includes a couple of extra John Green specific bonus stops and, if you can think of anything I’ve missed, let me know in the comments!

DFTBA, fellow travelers!


P.S. Candice, your snorkeling post made me laugh so hard. Thank you for adding my wise reflection into the mix ;)

Sara Hamil, The Let's Go Ladies, TLGL





 Want to make the most of your stop in Indianapolis? What else is there to do in Birmingham? Need some extra pit stops in Tennessee on your way to Skullbone? TripAdvisor is your BFF for this roadie!

Sara Hamil

A storyteller, adventurer, quasi-anthropologist; travel for Sara is as much about experiencing the world as it is about self-discovery. She also kind of hopes that all this globetrotting will help with some nagging existential crisis. Interests include Disney, running and her dog, Jasper.

  • Candice Lee MacAulay

    Chicago and Orlando have been on my travel bucket list since forever, so I’m pretty sure we need to go on this roadtrip ASAP. I also want to go to Skullbone just so I can say “I went to Skullbone.”

    • Sara Hamil

      Chicago seems to be an increasingly popular location for YA fiction. Have you read Divergent? Seriously.

      ALSO: If we go to Skullbone I’m totally making us “I survived Skullbone” t-shirts.

  • Kendra (the Escapologist)

    This is perfect! I love Looking for Alaska, but I’m pretty sure I’d rather see Chicago or Indianapolis over Birmingham. The real life funky bones. Yes, please!

    • Sara Hamil

      Ha ha, yeah John seems to be a fan of small, rural towns in his books. But Chicago and Indianapolis? Totally! How surreal would it be to see Funky Bones irl??