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10 Underrated Destinations From Your Favorite TV Shows

Visit offbeat places that inspired iconic TV shows, from Pittsburgh to Venice Beach, California.

U.S. News & World Report

10 Underrated Destinations From Your Favorite TV Shows

A couple reads a map.
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Retrace the steps of beloved sitcom stars in these quirky, enchanting and memorable locations.

Ever since sitcoms, soap operas and dramas first appeared on TV, die-hard aficionados have fantasized about the towns and legendary locations where shows were supposedly set. Of course, New York City, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles – the settings for countless TV shows – don't need extra recognition on the small screen to draw tourists. However, a variety of memorable small towns have garnered more than 15 minutes of fame and celebrity thanks to their unforgettable, distinctive and beautiful settings. If you're eager to embark on a scenic, real-life TV-inspired tour and retrace the steps of your favorite characters, head to these often-overlooked destinations from popular shows.
Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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(Getty Images)

'The Office'

Scranton, Pennsylvania

The Electric City was thrust into the spotlight by this wildly popular show. Visitors will find enough unique attractions, lively pubs and hometown events to fill a weekend in Scranton. Devour the savory soups at Cooper's Seafood House, a local landmark, or join the night crowd at the Backyard Ale House for good times that extend throughout the evening. Train lovers should also check out Steamtown National Historic Site, which is home to authentic steam locomotives. Another option: Exploring the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour, a once-working coal mine. For superb pizza and scrumptious Italian cuisine, visit the city's west side.
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Retrace the steps of beloved sitcom stars in these quirky, enchanting and memorable locations.

Ever since sitcoms, soap operas and dramas first appeared on TV, die-hard aficionados have fantasized about the towns and legendary locations where shows were supposedly set. Of course, New York City, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles – the settings for countless TV shows – don't need extra recognition on the small screen to draw tourists. However, a variety of memorable small towns have garnered more than 15 minutes of fame and celebrity thanks to their unforgettable, distinctive and beautiful settings. If you're eager to embark on a scenic, real-life TV-inspired tour and retrace the steps of your favorite characters, head to these often-overlooked destinations from popular shows.

'The Office'

Scranton, Pennsylvania

The Electric City was thrust into the spotlight by this wildly popular show. Visitors will find enough unique attractions, lively pubs and hometown events to fill a weekend in Scranton. Devour the savory soups at Cooper's Seafood House, a local landmark, or join the night crowd at the Backyard Ale House for good times that extend throughout the evening. Train lovers should also check out Steamtown National Historic Site, which is home to authentic steam locomotives. Another option: Exploring the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour, a once-working coal mine. For superb pizza and scrumptious Italian cuisine, visit the city's west side.

'Northern Exposure'

Talkeetna, Alaska

This highly acclaimed show about a misplaced physician in Alaska was set in the fictional town of Cicely, which was inspired by Talkeetna, a historic village that affords a panoramic view of the Alaska Range. Despite its location, Talkeetna enjoys warm summer weather with temperatures in the pleasant 70s. Enjoy time in the great outdoors jet boating, rafting, kayaking or taking an exhilarating ATV ride. And if you're planning a winter trip, partake in cold-weather pursuits, from dog sledding to snowshoeing to Nordic skiing. Little ones can even discover moose locations with a specialized moose-sighting map.

'2 Broke Girls'

Brooklyn, New York

This sitcom, which portrays the trials and tribulations of two waitresses, is set in trendy Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a neighborhood best known for its hipster vibes and creative food and art scenes. Over the past 25 years, Williamsburg has become the epicenter of Brooklyn, and its streets are lined with rooftop bars and innovative restaurants serving cutting-edge creations. Participate in a beer crawl, pop into vintage clothing and classic records shops or enjoy a free tasting and tour at the New York Distilling Company on the weekend. Afterward, check out the area's waterfront flea markets or Brooklyn Bowl, a popular attraction that features a bowling alley, dance club and performance venue.

'Gilmore Girls'

Washington, Connecticut

The show's creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, based the town's setting, Stars Hollow, on Washington, Connecticut, after visiting the Mayflower Grace. An exquisite country retreat, the property features a 20,000-square-foot spa facility and gourmet dining, all set on 58 acres of pristine gardens and woodlands. Hikers of all ability levels can spend hours trekking across terrain at the Steep Rock Reservation. Afterward, head to Starberry Farm for some of the region's best peaches and plums, and then stop at Liberty Lemonade for some excellent shopping. With a population of less than 4,000, Washington offers a charming, one-of-a-kind small-town atmosphere reminiscent of Stars Hollow.

'Parks and Recreation'

Muncie, Indiana

Though Pawnee, Indiana, is a fictional setting, this political comedy's backdrop was modeled after Muncie, where there's been a recent craft beer renaissance. However, people come here for more than home-brewed beer and Ball State University fame. The downtown area brims with cultural activities, from fine art museums to music, theater, dance and art workshops available at the Cornerstone Center for the Arts. And the AMA National Model Aviation Museum houses the largest collection of model aircraft in the country. What's more, the Prairie Creek Reservoir can serve all of your outdoor needs with camping, swimming, boat rentals and horseback riding trails.

'The Simpsons'

Springfield, Oregon

The Simpsons' creator Matt Groening revealed the legendary cartoon's setting was inspired by Springfield in Oregon. The city has taken full advantage of its association to one of TV's longest-running shows by offering numerous Simpsons-inspired features, including a Springfield Horseman's Statue and Moe's Tavern. But don't confine yourself to an exclusive tour of The Simpsons. Emerald Art Center, housed in a historic downtown building, showcases local and national art, while history buffs can explore the free Springfield Museum, which offers rotating exhibits that illustrate the development of the city. And water enthusiasts will be pleased to know that more than 200 miles of rivers converge near Springfield.

'Fixer Upper'

Waco, Texas

Waco is much more than a town where experts transform old houses into contemporary ones. Waco's Cultural District contains museums, art galleries, performance venues and restaurants and bars serving locally produced food, wine, beer and even award-winning whiskey. Explore the beauty of the region from the air with an exciting BlueSky Helicopter Tour that ascends over Brazos River and historic bridges from the early 1800s that join the north and south sides of the city. And don't miss the picturesque Waco Riverwalk, which winds for 5 miles along both banks of the Brazos River, connecting several downtown attractions. Plus, Indian Springs Park is also home to several annual festivals.

'This Is Us'

Pittsburgh

The emotionally stirring show is based in this friendly, blue-collar city. The warmth of the people of Pittsburgh alone makes it a desirable place to visit. Apart from their beloved Steelers, another highlight is Point State Park, which commemorates the British settlement of the frontier outpost in 1754, and the National Aviary, which is the country's largest indoor bird zoo. The Strip District by the Allegheny River at the northeast corner of the Golden Triangle is also worth exploring. The area was formerly occupied by warehouses and railroad installations, but is now one of the city's main tourist centers. What's more, the area is home to shopping, art, dining and vibrant markets.

'Baywatch'

Venice Beach, California

In this popular series, incredibly attractive lifeguards rescue swimmers in the area. An enclave for eclectic artists, Venice Beach's flourishing community on the west side of Los Angeles is a tourist magnet, attracting 15 million visitors each year. Here, you'll find fortunetellers, vendors, jugglers and bodybuilders. Take advantage of the area's beautiful coastline by swimming, surfing or tossing a Frisbee. Stroll the Venice Beach Boardwalk and sample funnel cake, or try your luck at one of the area's many games. And don't miss the Venice Canal Historic District, which is noteworthy for its man-made canals built in 1905. Indulge yourself with a leisurely meal at a cozy cafe and enjoy excellent people-watching.

'The Last Man on Earth'

Tucson, Arizona

Tucson reaps the publicity benefits of this post-apocalyptic comedy. With 350 days of sunshine a year, Tucson offers a never-ending array of outdoor activities, from hiking to biking to horseback riding to rock climbing. Recognized for its many annual festivals, Tucson invites tourists to visit The Tucson 23 on June 17. A Mexican food festival, the event celebrates Tucson's best 23 miles of Mexican food in America. Plus, El Tour de Tucson is southern Arizona's premier bicycling event and one of the top cycling events in the country, attracting more than 9,000 cyclists from around the world each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
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