Central Perk, Stars Hollow, and 12 Other Fictional Places You Can Visit in Real Life
There are ordinary film sets — and then there’s the type of fictional scenery that means something more. Those easy-to-recognize places in shows and movies that become so quintessential and familiar to the art they reside in that they begin take on characters of their own. After all, where might the cast of Friends be without Central Perk to host all of their hilarious stories, one-liners and meet-cutes? How memorable would Home Alone have been without the home that Kevin was left alone in? And where would the kids of Bayside High have gathered after school if there had never been a Max?
Frankly, we don’t even want to think about it, and lucky for us, we don’t have to. Some of those captivating locales are so ingrained into society, in fact, that you can visit them in real life. That’s right! That stunning island you couldn’t take your eyes away from in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi?” Real. Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow? Also real. Read on for 14 made-up places accessible by car, boat, plane or train that will have you packing your bags, stat.
Get Saved by the Bell at Saved by the Max
Everything about Saved by the Max — a modern-day recreation of The Max from Saved by the Bell — will have you harkening back to the Saturday mornings of your youth. Life-size lockers that you can climb into recall the halls of Bayside High, while the posse’s favorite after-school hangout comes to life in the form of the eatery’s padded booths, ‘90s neon signs and a rocking jukebox. There’s even a replica of Mr. Belding’s office. The one big difference? Saved by the Max serves up adult beverages not previously available to Zack, Kelly, Jessie Spano, Screech, Lisa and A.C. Slater in their heyday, though tamer beverages, such as the Lisa Turtle milkshake or Mr. Tuttle float, are also an option. The pop-up restaurant, which originated in Chicago, will finish out the “final semester” of its L.A. run April 30th before moving onto Miami with an homage to the Malibu Sands Beach Bar.
Have a Drink at the Cheers Bar
If you’ve ever longed to go “where everybody knows your name,” it’s as simple as making the trek to Beacon Hill, Boston, where you’ll find the original Cheers bar. This little watering hole, established in 1969, was discovered by producers way back when it was called Bull & Fitch Pub. Impressed with its neighborhood feel and enthusiasm for sports and politics, the NBC executives made it the premise for the show’s central retreat. This American treasure has since adopted the name of the bar from the show that made it famous, and you can head there for Sam’s starters, Woody’s garden greens, Diane’s entrees or Norm’s sandwiches… or even just a little bit of trivia.
Revel in Small Town Charm in the Real Stars Hollow
Stars Hollow comes alive in Washington Depot, Connecticut, a.k.a. the town that inspired its quaint-yet-magical existence. Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino was struck by the “fairy”-like feel of this off-the-grid village while staying at the Mayflower Inn & Spa, which fans will surely equate to the series’ own Independence Inn. “The inn was so beautiful,” the program creator told The Deseret News in February 2001. “At the time I was there, it was beautiful, it was magical, and it was feeling of warmth and small-town camaraderie.”
Now, tourists flock to Washington and its neighboring city of Kent each year for the Gilmore Girls fan fest to experience life through the eyes of Sookie, Luke and the rest of the residents of Stars Hollow. Those passing through in the off-season can get a feel for its charm at the Washington Food Market, which looks more than a little like Doose’s (the convenience store in which Rory got her first kiss from Dean). As for Luke’s diner? Try Marty’s Cafe for a cup of coffee, black — just how Lorelai would order it.
Relive a Classic in Woodstock, Illinois
You’re bound to experience some déjà vu while touring the town square of Woodstock, Illinois — mainly because it also happens to be the filming site of the 1993 classic, “Groundhog Day.” While a few things have changed around “Punxsutawney” since Phil Connors was trapped in an endless loop on Feb. 2 — the Tip Top Café, for instance, is now a taqueria — much of the rest of the movie’s iconic settings remain the same: There’s Ned’s corner near Benton and Cass, the Alpine/Woodstock Theater and, of course, the bandstand dance gazebo in the center of Woodstock Square Park (just to name a few). Visit around Groundhog Day for the full film experience, when those who helped to make the movie lead guests on a guided walking tour around the town.
Do a Drive-By of the “Home Alone” House
Merv and Harry would have to get in line to take a slow drive past 671 Lincoln Boulevard in Winnetka, Illinois, today — come Christmastime, there’s no shortage of onlookers craning to get a peek inside the estate that served as the McCallister family’s residence in “Home Alone.” Though it’s been nearly 30 years since the cult classic was released, the 4,243 square-foot dwelling, built in 1920, is as captivating as ever. Its interior has been completely renovated since Kevin’s days of wreaking havoc on the small-time criminals that dared to mess with his home — the property was purchased in 2012 for nearly $1.6 million — but viewing its familiar exterior is like looking through a window straight to your childhood.
Have "Breakfast at Tiffany's" at the Blue Box Cafe
Sure, you could stand outside the flagship Tiffany’s store in New York City with a Danish and coffee à la Holly Golightly… or, you could sit down to a full breakfast of truffle eggs, avocado toast, smoked salmon or waffles at the shop’s Blue Box Café. Launched in November 2017, the fourth-floor space is decked out in just the type of elegant décor Holly would’ve loved, what with its Tiffany blue walls and chairs, Reed Krakoff china and view of Fifth Avenue: As she herself would say, “I’m just CRAZY about Tiffany’s!”
Come Home to the Brady Bunch House
Walking up to 11222 Dilling Street in North Hollywood feels just like coming home — or at least it will. By late 2019, the address that provided the exterior shots for the Brady family habitat will look just like the set Barry Williams (Greg), Maureen McCormick, (Marcia), Eve Plumb (Jan), Christopher Knight (Peter), Mike Lookinland (Bobby) and Susan Olsen (Cindy) filmed at, thanks to HGTV, which purchased the home for $3.5 million in August 2018, as well as the cast. The group teamed up with the home improvement network to Brady-fy the space for a brand new show, A Very Brady Renovation. The project saw the show’s original siblings reuniting for the first time in 15 years, and by the end of the year, Brady junkies everywhere will be able to see the fruits of their labors. Far out, indeed!
Sit on the "Iron Throne" at Finland's Lapland Hotel’s SnowVillage
Winter isn’t coming — it’s already here, at Lapland Hotel’s SnowVillage in Finland. Built in conjunction with HBO Nordic, you can rest assured that this Game of Thrones-themed ice (yes, ice!) hotel is the real deal: Each and every breathtaking detail has been constructed to make you feel as though you’ve been transported directly to Westeros. Made of roughly 771,618 ice crystals — and a heck of a lot more snow — SnowVillage allows you to feel the chill of Winterfell deep in your bones as you sit on a frozen Iron Throne, behold the Braavos Hall of Faces or make your way down a dragon-shaped slide. Those that are brave enough can even spend the night in one of Lapland’s Snow Suites, built for two to five people and kept at a teeth-chattering 23 to 28 (Brrr!) through April 21.
Take a Selfie at the Full House house
Full House fans need no longer wonder, “Whatever happened to predictability?” — It can be found at 1709 Broderick Street in San Francisco. The Victorian façade of the Tanner’s abode has long been a tourist pit stop in the Golden City, and that’s just the way creator Jeff Franklin likes it. The former showrunner purchased the home in December 2016 for nearly $4 million, and his first order of business was restoring the door, which had since been painted green, to its famously vibrant red hue. Franklin handpicked the property, built by Charles Lewis Hinkel in 1883, at the inception of the show. After making the purchase nearly 30 years later, he announced plans to rebuild its interior to look more like the set the fictional family originally filmed on. "There are probably 250 fans per day that show up and take a picture in front of it," he told The Hollywood Reporter shortly after acquiring the space. "It will be a lot more fun for the fans because now the house will look like the Tanners really live there. It's a gift to the fans, but it's also fun for me to own it."
Spend the Night in Harry Potter’s Wizard Chambers
You don’t need a Nimbus 2000 to get to Harry Potter’s school of magic — just a plane — or better yet, a train — ticket to London, where you’ll find the Georgian House Hotel. For roughly $400 per night, you can stay in one of the family-owned bed and breakfast’s “Wizard Chambers,” which have been lovingly built to look just like the dorm rooms Potter and his pals stayed in — they’re even hidden behind a bookcase with a portrait-lined passageway! Once inside, you’ll find castle-like stone walls, stained-glass windows and a four-post bed decked out in deep red and gold Gryffindor hues. Throw in some velvet curtains, a wood-burning stove and plenty of candles, and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to Hogwarts.
Strike a Pose in Front of Carrie Bradshaw’s NYC Apartment
No NYC locale holds more allure for a Sex and the City buff than 64-66 Perry Street — the sites of Carrie Bradshaw's brownstone (earlier seasons of the show were filmed at 64 Perry while later episodes were shot at the visually similar 66 Perry). While you likely won’t be able to venture up the stairs, as property owners have put up chain-link fences to keep fashionistas (and their shoes!) at bay, it hasn’t stopped throngs of fans from posing in front of the buildings, just like Carrie herself did on the HBO smash.
Fall in Love Like “The Notebook” in Charleston
It’s easy to fall in love in a place like Charleston, South Carolina. The setting of Noah and Allie Calhoun’s storybook romance spans the entire Southern town, from the American Theater on King Street, where the lovebirds had their first date, to the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens, the site of Allie’s family’s summer home. And, if you and your significant other aren’t completely enamored with each other by the time you’re finished walking through Boone’s’ picturesque “Avenue of the Oaks,” which is lined with giant trees dating back 300 plus years, there’s always Cypress Gardens — the site of that swoon-worthy canoe ride. The Charleston Inn even has “‘The Notebook’ package,” which includes stops at most of the aforementioned locations, plus High Cotton, where Allie dines with fiancé Lon Hammond, and Jeni’s Spendid Ice Cream, where Allie lovingly licks the soft serve off of Noah’s handsome mug.
Harness Your Inner Jedi Power on “Star Wars” Island
Those that found themselves enamored with the mystical island Rey trained with Luke Skywalker on in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” will be pleased to know that Acht-To is an actual place — and you don’t even need The Force to get to it. Simply visit Skelling Michael Island off the west coast of Ireland, where the scenes were shot, during its open tour season of May to September (weather permitting). Once you’ve successfully ferried across, you’ll be greeted by plenty of recognizable features from the film, including the first Jedi temple, the Jedi steps, and, of course, one heck of a view.
Grab a Cup of Joe at Central Perk
The real-life Central Perk is everything you dreamed it would be and then some. Located in the Chaowai Soho mall in Beijing, everything about the fictitious shop frequented by Ross, Rachel, Monica and the rest of the gang has been painstakingly recreated to a tee. Here, you can enjoy a cup of joe while lounging on the group’s favorite orange couch, listen to a Phoebe-like open mic performance or even play a game of Foosball in an area that’s been made to look like Joey and Chandler’s apartment. As an added bonus, episodes of the beloved NBC sitcom are constantly being aired for the enjoyment of guests, so you can compare the two in real time.