Have you ever gone somewhere you've never been and thought to yourself “Wait, haven't I been here before?" Maybe you have -- through the modern miracle that is pop culture.
So, sit back, relax and let me take you on a whirlwind tour of 10 great locations from film, TV and music that quite marvelously exist in real life. And start saving up for your next big adventure!
1. Northern Ireland
For 'Game of Thrones'
Winter is finally here, and there’s no better time to visit the filming locations of what will no doubt go down in history as the television event of the decade when Game of Thrones ends its run this spring.
First head south of Belfast to County Down for Castle Ward (Winterfell), Tollymore Forest Park (the Haunted Forest) and the Quoile River (Riverrun).
Then, mosey over to County Antrim for Ballintoy Harbour (Pyke), Mussenden Temple (Dragonstone), the Dark Hedges (The Kingsroad) and Cushendun Caves (where Melisandre’s smoke baby was born).
End your trip at Portstewart Strand in County Derry, which doubles as Dorne — now 99% less annoying since (SPOILER ALERT) the Sand Snakes met their untimely ends.
2. Liverpool, England
For the Beatles
I'll use any excuse to pump up my hometown — but then again, it is the Greatest City In The World. (I’m not biased, honest guv!) Not to mention, it's the town that gave birth to Beatlemania.
So climb aboard the Magical Mystery Tour bus and take in The Cavern, Penny Lane, Strawberry Field and the childhood homes of John, Paul, George and Ringo.
Superfans also will want to check out The Jacaranda club on Slater St. — the place where the Fab Four played their first gig together — and The Casbah Club in West Derby village (by appointment only).
On a long and winding road to your next epic vacation? Find out how long it'll take to save enough to get there.
3. North Island, New Zealand
For 'Lord of the Rings'
It’s always something of a disappointment to visit a set from a movie only to discover that it’s all wooden cut-outs — which is why a trip to the Hobbiton set, located about halfway between Hamilton and Rotorua, is just so rewarding.
That's because, you know, actually built the darn thing for reals!
After your tour, boogie on down to the town of National Park (yes that’s its name!) for high tea in the shadow of Mount Ngauruhoe, aka Mount Doom.
Finish off with a trip around “Wellywood,” located in the Wellington suburb of Miramar, home to Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, which created the special effects for the Lord of the Rings movies.
3. Pacific Northwest, US
For 'The Twilight Saga'
If romances involving a 100-year old man (who is dead) getting it on with a gloomy teenager (who might as well be) is your kink, why not do a Twilight tour of the Pacific North-West?
Start in the town of Kalama, Washington, where the high school should look rather familiar. Then head south to St. Helens, Oregon, home to Bella’s House, the “Port Angeles” scenes and the prom dress shop.
Keep trundling down the map to Portland and find the Yale Union Laundry Building, aka Mimi’s School of Dance. Grab a bite (ha!) at the Carver Café (yes it exists) and stop to admire what’s left of the View Point Inn (the location of the school prom, now sadly gutted by fire.
Finally, go into full fangirl/fanboy and take a pic of yourself outside the Cullen "family home" on Portland's NW Quimby Street.
4. East Coast Mainline (train), UK
For the 'Harry Potter' series
Harry Potter fans will want to travel to London and find the Millennium Bridge (wobbled by the Death Eaters), then head up to King’s Cross Station and jump on the train bound for Edinburgh, taking a selfie at Platform 9 3/4 on the way.
Get off at Durham and walk 15 minutes to the magnificent 925-year-old cathedral which was used for some of the interior Hogwarts shots.
Then it’s back on the train up to Alnmouth station for Alnwick Castle, which was used for the Hogwarts exteriors.
If you wish to go whole Hogsmeade, arrive in Edinburgh and then head over to Glencoe to see those stunning backdrops from the Triwizard Tournament in real life.
5. Skopelos, Greece / Vis, Croatia
For the 'Mamma Mia!' movies
It doubled for the fictional island of Kalokairi in the smash hit Mamma Mia! But Skopelos, approximately 75 miles north of Athens, is a vacation destination in its own right and well worth a visit.
There’s little evidence these days that the production was ever here, but Kastani beach should jog your memory should you feel the need to do a dance to "Lay All Your Love On Me" in flippers.
Outrageously enough, they didn’t return to Greece for the sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, but filmed it on the gorgeous island of Vis in Croatia instead.
On Vis, don’t miss Stiniva beach on the south coast and the village of Komiza — and mooch over to Barjoska Bay, on a road built specially for the production.
6. Petra, Jordan
For 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'
The idea of this list is for a tour of several different filming locations rather than one-offs, but since the Grail Temple located in the Canyon of the Crescent Moon is in reality just one small part of a massive complex, it would be remiss of me not to include Petra, the Rose City.
I don’t know what’s more remarkable, the fact that the entire conurbation was hewn out of rock or the fact that it’s over 2,000 years old.
As you enter the city through the narrow opening known as the "Siq," I defy you not to have the Raiders theme running through your head.
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7. Cleveland (Ohio), US
For 'A Christmas Story'
Visit the A Christmas Story House museum and you'll swear you hear the walls echoing Mother Parker's cry that "You'll shoot your eye out!" when Ralphie asks for a Red Ryder air rifle for Christmas.
Though the movie's scenes inside the house were actually shot on a Toronto sound stage, the home in Cleveland used for the exteriors has been remodeled to match the sets and is now a tourist attraction.
The gift shop even sells old-fashioned, wash-your-mouth-out Lifebuoy soap — and tons of leg lamp doo-dads.
Afterward, head 30 miles out to Medina in the suburbs and a Christmas museum called Castle Noel, where you can see the department store Santa Mountain and slide from the movie. (Where Ralphie got another warning that "you'll shoot your eye out!")
8. Udaipur, India
Not one of the best Bonds by any stretch of the imagination (a killer yo-yo? Seriously?!), but Octopussy — one of the films starring Roger Moore as James Bond — did have one redeeming feature: its setting in the majestic “City of Lakes,” Udaipur in Rajasthan.
Reenact the hair-raising rickshaw chase through the city streets by, you know, just getting on a rickshaw (I love India!), and then chill out on the splendid Lake Pichola, not forgetting to drop into the Taj Lake Palace Hotel for some delicious chai.
As an added bonus, pretty much every restaurant in town shows the sixth-top-grossing movie of 1983 on a loop. Every day. Forever.
For 'The Beach'
The book and the movie that launched a thousand backpacker adventures, The Beach has been both a blessing and a curse to tourism in Thailand.
While its depiction of Khao San Road (Bangkok) and Ko Pha Ngan made them a wee bit crazier than they actually are, the beach itself has suffered from its fame and natural beauty.
Not only was Maya Bay on the island of Ko Phi Phi Le damaged during the production of the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio movie, but also 80% of the surrounding coral reefs have been destroyed by boat traffic and pollution, rendering marine life virtually nonexistent.
So, the beach from The Beach is now off-limits to tourists, which I think we can all agree is fair enough. But there's still plenty for fans of the Leo film to see and enjoy on a trip to Thailand.
10. New York, US
Start on the steps of New York Public Library and venture across the street to 489 Fifth Ave., for the bank where the GBs get the money to buy the Hook and Ladder 8 building — which you can see way downtown at North Moore and Varick Streets.
Then it’s on to Lincoln Center where Venkman chats with Dana; Tavern on the Green in Central Park, where Louis bangs on the glass while being menaced by a demon dog; and Columbus Circle, where a newly possessed Louis talks to a horse.
Head back downtown to the Manhattan Bridge (crossed by Winston and Ray in Ecto-1), then to New York City Hall, where our heroes have it out with the Mayor.
And that brings us to our final destination: 55 Central Park West, the art deco building used for the denouement between the Ghostbusters and Gozer the Destructor (and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man). I love this town!!