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Fictional Vacation

September 29, 2015

Check out these real tourist attractions based on fictional places.

  • Sopranos TourTourists can take a Sopranos tour in suburban New Jersey. Stops include Satriale’s Pork Store, the place where Livia Soprano is “buried,” and the Bada Bing nightclub. The tour includes cannolis and a meeting with actor Joe Gannascoli, who plays Vito on the show.
  • Gunsmoke was filmed in California, but set in Dodge City, Kansas. Since the 1960s, about 100,000 people a year visit the real Dodge City to see replicas of buildings from the show.
  • The Wizard of Oz takes place in Kansas, but neither the book nor the movie say where in Kansas. So the town of Liberal decided that it was there, and in 1981 opened a museum they call Dorothy’s House—an old farmhouse that kind of looks like the one in the 1939 movie.
  • The 1990s TV series Northern Exposure took place in the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska, but was filmed in the real town of Roslyn, Washington. The Roslyn Museum houses artifacts and memorabilia from the show.
  • People still visit Fort Hays, Kansas, setting of the 1990 movie Dances with Wolves. Only problem: The movie was filmed in South Dakota.
  • Twin Peaks was filmed in Snoqualmie, Washington, and North Bend, Washington. You can visit the show’s Mar-T Cafe in North Bend, where they sell cherry pie, “a damn fine cup of coffee,” and official Log Lady logs.
  • What do The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Sixteen Candles have in common? All were written by John Hughes and all take place in Shermer, Illinois. It’s a fictional place, based on Hughes’s hometown of Northbrook, Illinois. Landmarks from the movie, however, are real. Fans can see the “Save Ferris” water tower and the high school used in The Breakfast Club.
  • Visiting New York? Take the Seinfeld tour. It’s led by Kenny Kramer, who inspired Michael Richards’s Kramer character on the show. Stops include the Soup Nazi’s restaurant, Monk’s Diner (Tom’s Restaurant in real life), and the building used to film exterior shots of the office where Elaine worked. It’s a great way to spend Festivus.
  • Sam Spade, the detective in Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, kept his office in the Hunter-Dulin Building at 111 Sutter Street, San Francisco. The building is real; the office is fictional.
  • Bedrock City in Custer, South Dakota, is a re-creation of the town of Bedrock from The Flintstones. It includes the Flintstone and Rubble homes, the main street (with a bank being held up by a caveman), and Mt. Rockmore, a mini Mt. Rushmore (with Fred, Barney, and Dino instead of presidents).
  • Little House on the Prairie (the books and the TV show) is based on author Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life, growing up in the 1860s near Wayside, Kansas. People who visit Wayside can see modern replicas of the show’s schoolhouse, post office, and the Ingalls’s cabin.
  • Fans of Gone With the Wind can’t visit Tara—it’s fictional. But they can visit the Road to Tara Museum in Clayton County, Georgia. Highlights include replicas of some costumes used in the 1939 movie, such as Scarlett’s drapery dress, two seats from the Atlanta movie theater where stars of the movie saw the film’s premiere, and a copy of the novel autographed by the author, Margaret Mitchell.
  • Andy Griffith was born in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, which became the model for Mayberry on The Andy Grif‑ th Show. Every September, Mt. Airy holds “Mayberry Days”(cast members attend). There’s a statue of Andy and Opie and replicas of Floyd’s Barber Shop, the jail, and Andy’s house. But don’t look for the fishing hole seen in the opening credits—that’s in Beverly Hills.
  • The house used for exterior shots of The Brady Bunch is at 11222 Dilling Street, North Hollywood, California. The current residents installed an iron fence to keep out fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the Bradys.

Uncle John's Weird Weird World

This story was first published in Uncle John’s Weird, Weird World.

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