On a recent trip to Mexico, a waiter at a Spanish restaurant started questioning me about my hometown of Chicago. From there, he began asking if I'd ever been to New York or Las Vegas and wanted to know what these cities were like because he'd "only seen them on TV."
His statement struck me because, in an age where wanderlust is so real, it didn't occur to me that some people never had the opportunity to venture outside of their hometowns. Some people weren't as fortunate as I was to whip out a passport and go anywhere; some only saw the rest of the world through television shows.
In fact, I've traveled to many cities -- DC, New Orleans, LA, to name a few -- simply because I'd fallen in love with how they were portrayed on my favorite show. I loved feeling like I was on set with my favorite characters or experiencing a taste of their lifestyle.
So, I put together a list of shows that have given me the travel bug. Some are so popular and recognizable, they even have dedicated tours of their picturesque filming locations. Did you ever travel anywhere after finding inspiration from a TV show? Let us know in the comments!
Game of Thrones
If you want to live like a Westerosi -- without the gory battles, of course -- listen up. Game of Thrones uses some of the most beautiful places in the world as their backdrop. The medieval look is very much alive in Europe.
Sure, many scenes are shot inside, but those exterior shots are 100% real and can be found in places like Northern Ireland (Pyke), Iceland, Croatia and Malta (King's Landing, Dorne, or Slaver's Bay). Since so many fans travel to these locations for this very reason, you can easily find a map and plan out a whole "GOT-inspired" trip and possibly even recreate your favorite scenes.
Sex and the City
New York City is synonymous with Sex and the City, but so many other shows use the city's bustling and lavish personality. Gossip Girl, Will & Grace, The Bold Type, and Broad City have all given us an idea of what the Big Apple, and surrounding neighborhoods like the Bronx and Brooklyn, are all about. Fans are so inspired, they often make pit stops in front of Carrie Bradshaw's house and take fashionable photos on the Met Gala steps just like Blair Waldorf.
Big Little Lies
You've probably never even heard of Monterey, but after watching Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley sip on coffee at Old Fisherman's Wharf (in reality, it is an Italian and Seafood restaurant called Paluca Trattoria) and run at Lovers Point Beach, it's most likely on your list of "places to visit." In fact, you were probably already convinced by the scenery from the Bixby Creek Bridge in the opening credits.
The period drama revolves around staff at Downtown Abbey in 20th century England. Though you can't travel back in time, you can visit the UK to check out the family's Georgian Country House and the lush grounds and gardens. Grab some crumpets and tea while you are there, and maybe even bring a fancy umbrella to shield you from the scorching sun!
If you are after a quirky and cool city, look no further than Portlandia. The series highlights and then underlines the eccentricity of the city by focusing on the charming intricacies like bookstores, concert venues, and chic eateries. I bet you can get some delicious hipster coffee and take some wicked Instagram photos during your trip, so add don't exclude this one from your bucket list.
Though you can't travel to 18th century Scotland, you can still travel present-day Scotland, which is just as picturesque thanks to all of the historical buildings. Add 14-century Doune Castle (Castle Leoch), 15th-century Blackness Castle (Fort William), and Linlithgow Palace (Wentworth Prison) to your itinerary, and you'll feel like you're a main character in the supernatural historical romance.
The Original vampires call New Orleans home and utilize every corner of the ancient city. The backdrop plays an important role in supernatural terms, but it's also visually stunning. I traveled to NOLA because I fell in love with it as it was portrayed on the series, and as I was walking through the French Quarter, I felt the spirit of the ancestors taking hold and vampires breathing down my neck. True story.
Sadly, it wasn't a pristinely dressed Mikealson. To really get the full experience, stay at The Hotel Royal (Marcel's place of residence), stop by St. Louis Cathedral (known as St. Anne's on the series), visit Lafayette Cemetary, and hit up a voodoo shop with hopes of casually running into Freya.
If you have to fight crime, why not do it on the sunny beaches of Hawaii? Let's just hope your vacation is more relaxing than what you often see on the show. If you're a super fan, there's actually a guided tour that leads you to iconic attractions from the series like the Hawaii Five-O headquarters and Punchbowl. They even recreate some memorable scenes!
Montauk is labeled as the Hamptons without the crowd which makes it the perfect place for an affair. The scenery in this show is so vivid, you can almost taste the water and you've probably found yourself looking at hotels on multiple occasions.
It's a good thing it's also a fantastic beach getaway with plenty of water activities, boutique shops and restaurants. Affair fans can specifically check out Turtle Cove, The Montauk Playhouse Community Center and the Viking Dock.
The Chicago Triology
Dick Wolf brought a whole series of Chicago shows to NBC, and if that isn't enough to make you want to travel to the Windy City, I don't know what is. You have to look past all the crime highlighted in the episodes to find the real beauty in the bustling city lined with skyscrapers! If you ever roll through, you can check out Cinespace which is the lot where all the shows, including Empire, are filmed. Also add Grant Park, Navy Pier, Molly's Bar (Lottie's Pub in real life), and PD's District 21 (UIC Police Headquarters).
If you are a fan of Scandal, you've probably wanted to power strut all over DC in a peacoat and Louboutins like power player Olivia Pope. Yes, I know most of it is filmed in LA, but I'll shamelessly admit that the ABC show inspired me to take a weekend getaway to DC. And in the midst of emulating Liv's power prance all over town, I actually fell in love with the city and all of its political history.
Sadly, you cannot actually travel back in time, but this series really makes you want to build your own time machine and see history unravel before your eyes. Just remember, you can always travel to all of the destinations the Lifeboat takes them to, just in the present day. Don't forget to check out some of the historical monuments and sights that have been preserved throughout time!
The 55-year-old series is filmed in Wales, and though there is time traveling involved, many of the filming locations are outside and accessible. A Doctor Who staple, the National Museum of Wales, has been in several episodes. You can also check out Cardiff Castle, Roald Dahl Plass, and Southerndown Beach (Bad Wolf Bay). So what are you waiting for? Hope into the Tardis and become a part of all the action!
Welcome to Miami! The HBO series, which stars The Rock as retired NFL player Spencer Strasmore turned pro money manager, shows off the rich and glamorous side of Miami. And it's unapologetic and extravagant in its delivery which is precisely why we love it.
If you're into luxury cars, it's an added bonus. The series takes advantage of all the great hot spots the trendy city has to offer like the Biltmore and Star Island. If you plan on touring Miami the Ballers way, we recommend you bring along a thick wad of cash!
One Tree Hill
There is only one Tree Hill and it is your home. No one ever wanted to travel to Wilmington, North Carolina until One Tree Hill became a hit teen sensation. Even though the show has been off the air for six years, fans still flock to the River Court, Karen's Cafe, Tree Hill High, the infamous bridge (an official tourist attraction on Google) and Lucas' home, every year.
EyeCon Reunions host a few get-togethers which unite the cast and die-hard fans in the town that everyone calls home for a weekend filled to the basketball brim with nostalgia.