Los Pollos Hermanos ('Breaking Bad')
South Valley, New Mexico
Los Pollos Hermanos was the business empire of drug kingpin and Walter White nemesis Gus Fring on the TV show Breaking Bad. While the chain was a wholly invented creation for the series, it was filmed at Albuquerque-based chain Twisters. Unfortunately, if you're trying to recreate a meal from the show, you'll be out of luck. Twisters' main claim to fame are their burgers and burritos.
(image via Google Maps)
Dom and Ariadne's Shared Dream ('Inception')
The Pont de Bir-Hakeim wasn't so much a fictional location in Inception, it was that the scene took place in a shared dream that made it notable. Ariadne's first lesson in building dream worlds leads them to the bridge where she creates mirrors out of thin air. The result is an endless row of their reflections that seems to stretch out of sight. You'll have to use a little photo magic to create your own version, however.
Olivia Pope & Associates ('Scandal')
Los Angeles, California
The Palace Theatre, at over 100 years old, was originally built as a movie palace during the golden age of Hollywood. Today it functions as a concert and live theatre venue, but gladiators might recognize it as the office building of Olivia Pope & Associates from the TV show Scandal. The tell-tale feature is the arched windows on the top floor of the building; most shots on the show conveniently crop out the ground floor-level and theatre marquee.
Fangtasia ('True Blood')
Long Beach, California
Fangtasia may be located in northern Louisiana, but Alex's Bar, the filming location, is in Long Beach, California. Fangtasia was never the classiest of places to grab a drink, and we're happy to report that the real location keeps that hole-in-the-wall atmosphere. The punk rock flair aren't set pieces; those hang on the wall daily. If you think it looks a little off in person, try heading around back. The rear entrance is used for filming, not the front of the building.
(image via Google Maps)
Clanton ('A Time to Kill')
Kill three birds with one stone. Canton may be most well-known as the fictional town of "Clanton" from A Time to Kill, but it also served as the backdrop for scenes in O Brother, Where Art Thou? and My Dog Skip. While you're there, you can have coffee in the diner where Matthew McConaughey and Sandra Bullock's characters had a heated encounter. The city also hosts one of the region's largest flea markets and craft shows every May and October.
Tatooine ('Star Wars')
The desert planet of Tatooine is perhaps the most well-known of all the planets in the Star Wars universe, being the home of Anakin and Luke Skywalker. While many areas of the city served as settings for scenes in the films, the most recognizable may be the Hotel Sidi Driss, used as the home for the Skywalker family. Built in the traditional style of the Berber people, the hotel is operational throughout the year and brings together Star Wars fans from the world over.
Downton ('Downton Abbey')
West Berkshire, England
If you arrive at Downton Abbey expecting to see Lord Grantham and company, you'll be in for a rude awakening. Instead, you'll find Lady and Lord Carnavarvon who make Highclere Castle, it's actual name, their winter home. When the residence is open to the public during the summer, visitors can tour the grounds and see the interior where the great hall and bedrooms are used for filming. Alas, the downstairs quarters are part of a set created in London.
The Tardis ('Doctor Who')
In the long-running BBC series Doctor Who, the titular character travels through time in a time machine known as a TARDIS. How does one make a time machine inconspicuous? Design it in the shape of a police box, of course! Famous across Britain, police boxes were once ubiquitous, allowing citizens to make emergency calls and serving as mini stations for officers. With the rise of the cell phone, police boxes have gone the way of the dodo, relegating the site of a large blue box to Doctor Who connotations. One of the final few left, and no longer operational, the "TARDIS" at Earl's Court tube station has become a popular tourist destination for the show's fandom.
The Overlook Hotel ('The Shining')
Estes Park, Colorado
The Stanley Hotel in Colorado served as Stephen King's inspiration for his iconic book The Shining. While visiting the area in 1974, King and his wife stayed one night in the hotel as they were preparing to close down for the summer. Being the lone occupants in the expansive corridors and dining hall gave rise to the eerie creations of the future setting. While the hotel was used as a filming location for a T.V. miniseries adaptation, the famous Kubrick film chose instead to use exterior shots of the Timberline Lodge in Oregon. This film is shown on a continuous loop on the Stanley's hotel T.V. channel.
Twin Peaks, Washington ('Twin Peaks')
North Bend, Washington
Cult series Twin Peaks put North Bend on the map. Though it aired 25 years ago, passionate fans still come to North Bend hoping to catch a glimpse of locations in the fictional town of Twin Peaks, Washington. Twede's Cafe, a diner that was featured prominently in the show still looks the same all these years later—from the outside at least. The interior has never been the same since a fire in 2000, but the cherry pie and coffee are just as good as ever.
Paradise Falls ('Up')
Canaima National Park, Venezuela
The final resting place of Carl Fredricksen's floating house in Up was atop the fictional waterfall of Paradise Falls. Visitors to Angel Falls in Venezuela will notice an almost identical resemblance between the two. The journey to see it is a difficult one, however, as the falls lie deep in the isolated jungle. Yet, the sights of the world's tallest uninterrupted waterfall make the complicated trek worth it.
Mordor ('Lord of the Rings')
Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
Follow in Frodo and Sam's footsteps by taking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing hiking trail through New Zealand's oldest national park, one of the oldest national parks in the world. It's not hard to image that you're in the fictional region of Mordor. The volcanic terrain of Mount Tongariro is completely devoid of vegetation and is open to the harsh winds year round and heavy snow in the winter. You'll swear Saruman was casting a weather spell along your path.
The Grounds of Hogwarts ('Harry Potter')
There's no Hogwarts castle in the highlands of Glencoe, but visitors can explore the village and roam the hilly countryside as the characters of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban did. Standing on the hillside, you can look out on Loch Leven, which served as the role of Hogwart's Great Lake, and almost see the Giant Squid waving back at you. The village was also seen as the setting of Skyfall, James Bond's childhood estate, in the film of the same name.
Nærøyfjord (pronounced Nur-if-fyord) served as the inspiration for the fictional Disney kingdom of Arendelle, home of Queen Elsa and Princess Anna in the film Frozen. The dramatic landscape was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the area was listed as the world's best natural site by the National Geographic Society. After Frozen 's release, demand for Norwegian tourism increased so dramatically that Disney now offers fjord cruises and Norwegian land excursions of their own.
King's Landing ('Game of Thrones')
Thanks to Game of Thrones, this Mediterranean seaport is now world-famous as the filming location for both King's Landing and Qarth on the show. In real life, 42,000 people cram into the 8.5 square miles of this Croation city, but the most famous feature is the 80-foot wall surrounding the majority of the historic old city. Since the show's premiere, tourism has ballooned, and there are now specially organized trips just for fans.
(image via Flickr)
Canyon of the Crescent Moon ('Indiana Jones')
In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, our adventurers find themselves in the temple where the Holy Grail is hiding. While your chances of finding the Grail are slim, you can see the inspiration for the front of the temple in Petra, Jordan. This ancient stone city is a sight to behold--if you can stand the trek through the desert to get there.
In the movie Avatar, Pandora may be an alien world, but you can actually see its beauty here on earth. Producers took inspiration for the mountain shots of Pandora from a real-world place--the South Pillar of Heaven in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China.
Silent Hill ('Silent Hill')
Silent Hill is the mysterious and terrifying setting for the video game and movie series of the same name. While you (thankfully) can't experience the true horrors of Silent Hill, you can see its inspiration in Centralia, Pennsylvania. This creepy place sits on top of a coal fire that has been burning since 1962--which means you won't see many people, but you'll see plenty of ominous smoke rising from the earth.
Arkham Asylum ('Batman')
In the Batman universe, Arkham Asylum has been home to many of Batman's biggest enemies--including the Joker, Poison Ivy, and Mr. Freeze. The real-life inspiration for this place came from Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts. While most of this psychiatric hospital was demolished, some of it was preserved in the form of apartments that still retain that Arkham creepiness.
The Hundred Acre Wood ('Winnie the Pooh')
If you ever find yourself in Ashdown Forest in Sussex, England, be on the lookout for any unusual bear or tiger sightings because this place served as the inspiration for the Hundre Acre Wood in Winnie the Pooh. Author A.A. Milne is said to have spent time in Ashdown with his son, Christopher Robin--who was also an inspiration for the book.
The Island ('Lost')
The Island is the mysterious setting for the TV series Lost. But in real life, there's nothing mysterious about it--filming for the show took place across the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
The Cheers Bar ('Cheers')
Cheers may have ended in 1993, but if you find yourself in Boston, you can still take a trip to the place where everybody knows your name. Originally known as the Bull & Fitch Pub, the real-life bar now goes by Cheers, and it's a must-see spot for any fans of the show.
Brady Bunch House ('The Brady Bunch')
When it comes to iconic homes in television, not many are more famous than the house where The Brady Bunch was filmed. These days, the house still stands in North Hollywood, and it's recently got a makeover thanks to the HGTV show A Very Brady Renovation. The show follows the original Brady "kids" as they give the home some updated Brady touches.
Avonlea ('Anne of Green Gables')
If you're a fan of Anne of Green Gables, buy yourself a ticket to Prince Edward Island, Canada ASAP! There, you can tour Avonlea Village which is a recreation of the fictional town from the book.
Cathedral Cove ('Prince Caspian')
In the movie The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, the children enter the magical world via Cathedral Cove. In the real world, this was actually filmed at Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. Whether you're a fan of the books and movies or not, this is a beautiful place to relax and unwind on vacation!
Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters ('X-Men')
Fans of X-Men know that Xavier's School of Gifted Youngsters is an important location in the series. And while you might not be able to enroll as a student, you can get a glimpse of the iconic exterior shots from the movies--they were filmed at Hatley Castle in Canada.
Warrior Falls ('Black Panther')
Warrior Falls is the location of Black Panther's coronation as king of Wakanda. But if you'd like to visit, it won't require interplanetary travel. These scenes were filmed at Iguazu Falls in Argentina.
Port Royal ('Pirates of the Caribbean')
In the original Pirates of the Caribbean, Port Royal is the home of Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner. These scenes were filmed at Wallilabou Bay on the island of St. Vincent, but once shooting was done, the island's residents decided to preserve the pirate-y fun.
In order to film the 1970s live-action Popeye movie, crews constructed the town of Sweethaven in Malta. These days, it still draws plenty of tourists to the region--although now it's known appropriately as Popeye Village. It's a must-see spot for fans of the spinach-eating sailor man.
Mars ('The Martian')
Okay, so Mars isn't technically fictional, but you won't be seeing the real thing any time soon. You can, however, visit Wadi Rum, Jordan, where scenes of the Red Planet were filmed for The Martian.