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.