Ready for vacation? Forget the beaches and the amusement parks; did you know that you can tie your upcoming, hard-earned vacation into your love of science fiction and fantasy?
Pack your bags and head to some of the best places around the world to see where your favorite TV shows and movies were filmed. And if you can't make it across the ocean or around the world, have no fear: There are also sci-fi-based conventions and cruises, where you can meet the casts as well as other sci-fi and fantasy geeks just like you! Check out some of the most far-flung and coolest nearby locales — and if you want more places to visit, pick up the upcoming book On Location: A Film and TV Lover's Travel Guidebook, out in March!
Heads up, Whovians, because there are walking and bus tours in London that take you to around 15 Doctor Who landmarks and a bunch of filming locations, including where Dalek factions battled in Remembrance of the Daleks, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and where the Prime Minister’s fictitious house stood.
However, if you can’t get to England any time soon, there are two Doctor Who-themed venues in New York to fuel your obsession: The Way Station, a steampunk-themed bar in Brooklyn, New York features a full-sized TARDIS (well, it’s really the bathroom, but Whovians come from all over to see it). The bar once offered Doctor Who trivia nights and other related sci-fi screenings, but check out their website for their monthly calendar of events. Then a few hours north of Brooklyn is The Pandorica, a Doctor Who-themed restaurant in Beacon, New York. On the menu here is WHOmmus, Madame De Pompadour Cake, and the Bannakaffalatta Bread Pudding (which I’ve eaten, and it’s really yummy). They also offer trivia nights and have Doctor Who episodes playing on the television at all times.
If you couldn’t get enough of Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge, then head to Queens, New York where the Museum of the Moving Image houses 300 items from Henson’s career. This permanent exhibition also has more than 50 of his famous puppets on display, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Elmo, Gobo Fraggle, the Swedish Chef, and Statler and Waldorf. Go behind-the-scenes with Henson’s sketches, storyboards, and scripts, and see rare footage of Henson and his collaborators at work. A tip: Film buffs will love spending time exploring the rest of the museum as well, which includes film screenings and panels.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
This 1977 movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, had an iconic scene that was filmed at Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower. Take a trip to the park, where you can take that perfect selfie in front of this popular landmark while you contemplate what’s really out there.
Fans of this dystopian film should book a trip to Atlanta to see The Swan House at the Atlanta History Center. It was one of many locations in and around Georgia that were used during the filming of Catching Fire. The Capitol Tour experience includes a guided tour where you will see rooms used during filming and a behind-the-scenes exhibit displaying photos and select props from the film.
Game of Thrones
If you can’t get enough of this action-packed adventure series, Ireland is where you want to be. Ireland’s Game of Thrones Tours offers multiple options to tour parts of the country that have been used as filming locations for the hit show. The tours include the 16th century castle which serves as Winterfell, Carrickfergus Castle, also known as Castle Black, and Magheramorne Quarry, which serves as the famous Wall.
Lord of the Rings
There’s no better way to bring these movies to life than to head to New Zealand for the Hobbiton Tours, a 12-acre set where you can see The Mill and Hobbit Holes, and the famous Green Dragon Inn. It really is incredible.
A trip to California is really a trip to movie and television central, and this is one must-see place that covers multiple movies and television shows. Bronson Canyon, in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, is the home of three man-made caves that were carved into a mountain. It’s most noted as the Batcave from the 1960s Batman television series, and has been used in other sci-fi flicks such as Robot Monster, They Saved Hitler’s Brain, The Phantom Empire, Eegah, and the Invasion of the Body Snatchers to hide the pod people.
Hey Trekkies, if you haven’t booked your trip to Las Vegas for this August, then hurry up because tickets to the Creation Entertainment's Annual Las Vegas Official Star Trek Convention are going fast! You’ll also have the chance to meet actors from the show including William Shatner, Kate Mulgrew, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, Max Grodenchik, and so many more. Creation Entertainment also hosts several other fan conventions for such shows as Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Once Upon a Time, and more. Visit their website for a list of conventions coming up in 2018 and beyond.
By the way, if you ever dreamed of sleeping in a Star Trek-decorated room, the Roxbury Motel in Catskills, New York is where you want to be. This fun motel has rooms that are themed around I Dream of Jeannie, The Partridge Family, The Wizard of Oz, The Addams Family, and Indiana Jones, just to name a few, and is expanding to include more, such as a Dracula-themed room.
If your favorite movie or television show wasn’t mentioned here, don’t worry. Before you travel, all you have to do is do a search for "filming locations" and the name of your favorite film or television show. For example, if your favorite movie is Jurassic Park, you will find that many of the scenes were filmed in the Kauai Hawaiian islands. A trip there might bring your favorite movie to life.
To pre-order Lisa Iannucci's book, On Location: A Film and TV Lover's Travel Guide, click here.