As seen on TV travel
There are many ingredients to a hit television show, but often it’s the place that adds as much personality as the engaging characters and good writing. The setting is more than just stunning scenery and favourite hangouts — it’s part of the action and identity. While most of us will never get to appear on our favourite show, vacationers can enjoy some of the sights and experiences.
Hollywood and Los Angeles aren’t the only places to live the fantasy. Here are some trip ideas inspired by television:
St. John’s, Newfoundland
Want to visit the Republic of Doyle? Fans of this Canadian TV series about a father and son private investigator team know the city is as colourful and varied as the characters. Take a strong along Duckworth Street, the downtown thoroughfare often travelled by the show’s characters, and stop in at the Duke of Duckworth where characters and locals alike stop for a pint. Afterwards, make your way to the nearby hamlet of Quidi Vidi by cab or foot to see more backdrop scenery. Satisfy your hunger for ambiance and local fare at the Inn of Olde.
Looking for a more complete package? Maxxim Vacations’ St. John’s City of Legends includes these sites and more. The trip includes a five-night stay in an historic wooden home turned B&B, visits to notable sites like Signal Hill, and a boat tour out of St. John’s Harbour, allowing you to see the show’s opening shot: the view from outside the Narrows.
Many movies and TV shows have been filmed in Toronto, but Canada’s largest city rarely gets to be itself. Instead of being a stand-in for an American metropolis, Toronto is unashamedly the setting of hit shows like Flashpoint — an action show about an elite emergency services team . While you’ll catch glimpses of local life on the show, from skyscrapers and landmarks to transit stations and Tim Horton’s, it’s the cosmopolitan atmosphere that draws travellers and film crews.
It isn’t hard to find that “big city” experience, especially in the downtown core. Take in a musical, hit the museums and galleries, watch the city’s sports teams live and do a little first-rate shopping. One of Toronto’s icons, the CN Tower, is also the ideal way to see the city at a glance. This year, dare devils can try its newest addition: The EdgeWalk — an open air, hands-free walk around the top of the tower’s main pod (a staggering 116 stories above the ground).
Nothing says power and authority like the U.S. capital, so its no surprise that shows like The West Wing, NCIS, JAG and Bones are set in this scenic region. Postcard-worthy shots of the White House, Capital Building and Lincoln Memorial often make an appearance, and characters often converse against the backdrop of the National Mall. Just about any city tour will take you past these sites and more — including the J. Edgar Hoover Building . Fans of spy shows like Get Smart can get some insider secrets at the International Spy Museum and even participate in a one-hour Spy Operation Experience.
And while forensic investigation drama Bones is actually shot in Los Angeles, you can visit the Jeffersonian — make that the Smithsonian — to see TV memorabilia like Archie Bunker’s chair and Seinfeld’s infamous puffy shirt at the Museum of American History.
However, two-dimensional don’t quite capture the formidable monuments and classical architecture. For instance, seeing the rows of military graves at Arlington National Cemetery is a humbling experience, and the view of the city from Arlington House is more impressive in person than pictures.
For more information, visit Washingston.org.
New York City
Many shows have been set in this famed city, but the best ones do more than capture the glamour and grit of the Big Apple — they explore what it means to be a New Yorker. When you want to go beyond the usual tourist sites and activities, companies such as On Location Tours and All New York Tours take you to the must-see sites like the apartment building from Friends and the townhouse from The Cosby Show. Tours typically take about three hours and take in over 40 locations, so keep your camera handy.
Want to see more? Some tours focus on a particular show — current offerings include Sex and the City, The Sopranos and Gossip Girl — or a particular location, like an in-depth tour of Central Park.
Live TV buffs won’t want to pass up a tour of NBC Studios to visit the sets of favourites like Saturday Night Live and Dateline. Plan far enough ahead and you can even score tickets to a live taping of your favourite show, like The Dr. Oz Show, The Rachael Ray Show or Late Show with David Letterman (which actually tapes at 4:30 pm). NYCGo.com has a list of TV Show Tapings has the details.
While this destination doesn’t show off celebrity status, Chicago has been the setting of many novels, films and TV shows. The Windy City serves as inspiration and home for a variety of shows from medical dramas like Chicago Hope and ER to sitcoms like The Bob Newhart Show and Mike and Molly.
While you won’t find tour buses snapping film locations, there are many hotspots to hit such as The Lincoln Park Zoo, the Cultural Center and Millennium Park (where you can see yourself and the cityscape in the Cloud Gate). If you’re a fan of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, better add the Art Institute of Chicago to your must-see list — it reportedly has one of the largest collections of these works in the world. The Navy Pier is an entertainment hub as well as classic experience, especially if you’re traveling with youngsters in tow.
If you enjoy a good view from above, try the SkyDeck at the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) for a panorama of four states and the shores of Lake Michigan. Feeling daring? Step out onto the glass floor of The Ledge, the latest addition.
For more information, visit Explore Chicago.
The mere mention of Hawaii Five-0 may have you thinking pristine beaches, lush forests with towering waterfalls, volcanic craters and the statue of King Kamehameha out front of the Aliiolani Hale. Both the original and new versions of the show feature highlight sites and culture of Oahu. The island also served as Magnum P.I. ‘s home base, and many TV series like Charlie’s Angels and The Amazing Race have been lured to this paradise for an episode or two.
However, sometimes the connection is less obvious. The remote South American village on Off The Map ? The deserted island of Lost fame? Both Hawaii. Many of the locations are remote, but TV and movie-themed Hummer and ATV tours take you where tour buses can’t. Aside from the cities and beaches, many movies and shows have been shot at Kualoa Ranch, a 4000 acre working cattle ranch outside Waikiki where you can spend a few nights and tour by horseback. It’s Movie Sites tour shows you were Godzilla left his footprints, and where characters hid from rampaging dinosaurs in Jurassic Park .
Of course, there are many additional filming locations across Canada and the U.S. If you’re interested in visiting the places you’ve seen on TV, do a little research about your favourite show and see if there is a local filming office in the area for more information. Though summer and early fall are the seasons of re-runs, many shows are currently being filmed and produced. Some shows may be looking for extras, so keep your eyes open for opportunities.
Additional Sources: The International Movie Database