When you go on vacation do you stick to classic attractions like museums and castles? Or would you rather do a bit of sleuthing to find eye-catching places you saw in a movie or television show? If that’s you, this means that pop culture has played a major influence on your travel decisions. And if you’re in need of a bit more inspiration to decide where to go next, these four iconic pop culture sites should help make up your mind.
Shibuya Scramble Crossing, Tokyo
Made famous by: Lost in Translation
If you’ve seen this award-winning flick that starred Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, you know that Lost in Translation was as much an “advertorial” for visiting Tokyo as it was about two people awkwardly trying to manage the culture shock and discomfort of adjusting to life in an entirely new country. Shibuya is a very popular district in Tokyo that’s known as a nexus of entertainment fashion, and the site of the infamous Shibuya Scramble Crossing.
This is literally an intersection right in front of one of Tokyo’s busy JR East train line stations and between massive multi-level department stores. While you can certainly enjoy the experience of doing the scramble by crossing back and forth across the three intersecting streets, you can also visit the Starbucks in the Q-Front building that overlooks the crosswalk from up high.
Made famous by: Game of Thrones
If you’re not a Game of Thrones fan, you probably know Dubrovnik as a gorgeous seaside town in Croatia that’s perfect for summer vacations and music festivals. That is certainly true, but if you did watch the popular HBO show, you’re well aware that Dubrovnik also serves as the filming location for the fictional King’s Landing. Pretty much any place that has been used as a backdrop in the show is now a popular tourist destination.
But Dubrovnik has doubled down on their new-found interest. If you plan on visiting here, visit the city museum that doubled as Littlefinger’s brothel, then stop by the Trsteno Arboretum, which is where Lady Olenna Tyrell stayed during her visits to King’s Landing. After all of that Game of Thrones sightseeing, just enjoy the architecture of this historic medieval town. And if you visit Dubrovnik in the summer, time it right so you can experience the nation’s largest festival, the Dubrovnik Summer Festival.
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
Made famous by: The Shining
You may have read one (or several) of Stephen King's many books or watched the accompanying movies. Well, it turns out that King was inspired to write The Shining after he visited this hotel. The Stanley Hotel is a turn-of-the-century establishment located in Estes Park, Colorado, near Rocky Mountain National Park. Apparently, even the literal King of horror (pun intended) was so spooked by his stay at this hotel that he wrote The Shining.
If you’ve never read the book or watched the movie directed by Stanley Kubrick, it’s the story of a man (infamously played by Jack Nicholson) who is hired to be the on-site groundskeeper/maintenance man for a hotel during the offseason. But shortly after his arrival with his family, spooky things begin to happen. And in real life, this gorgeous architectural gem that debuted in 1909 is said to be haunted. Rather than downplay this rumor, the hotel embraces it by acknowledging that The Shining renewed interest and investments in the space. If you’re up to the challenge, the Stanley Hotel even offers a night tour.
The Painted Ladies, San Francisco
Made famous by: Full House
San Francisco is an iconic and historic town in its own right. From the TransAmerica Building to its cable cars traveling up and down Powell Street, the city is a photographer’s dream. But if you grew up watching TGIF on ABC or you’re getting your nostalgia kicks from Netflix's Fuller House, you’re probably familiar with this particular pop culture location. The Painted Ladies are Victorian-style homes that sit across from Alamo Square. Each of the homes is painted in three colors to help them stand out.
While this tourist attraction has continued to rise in appeal, you might be a bit bummed to realize that very little Full House filming took place in San Francisco. These iconic homes were used in the opening credits and in establishing shots of the show. In truth, only one episode, “Comet’s Excellent Adventure,”was shot in the city.
So do you have your bags packed yet? The next time you’re planning a vacation, definitely check out the “traditional” attractions. But also be sure to do a bit of Googling and find the pop culture sites that will take your trip to the next level.