6 Christmas movie locations you can visit in real life
One of the great traditions of the holiday season is watching (and rewatching) beloved Christmas movies.
How about turn the tradition into a travel adventure? Here are six real-life destinations where Christmas classics and newer favorites were either filmed or which provided the inspiration for the fictional setting:
1. Parker family house: ‘A Christmas Story’
If you find yourself in the vicinity of Cleveland, Ohio, and a fanatic of the 1983 cult holiday classic “A Christmas Story,” make a pit stop at the Parker family’s house, which is open for public tours complete with a museum and gift shop directly across the street.
If fawning over the “I-can’t-put-my-arms-down” snowsuit and the “Oh fuuuuuudge!” family Oldsmobile isn’t quite enough movie magic, visitors can buy leg lamps at the gift shop for their very own “soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window.”
Or if you’re feeling extra rebellious, Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot range model air rifles are also available. Find the house at 3159 W. 11th Street in the Tremont neighborhood.
2. Bedford Falls inspiration: ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’
The town of Bedford Falls in the 1946 classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” may have been fictional and created on soundstages in Encino, California, but the folks in Seneca Falls, New York, claim their town was director Frank Capra’s inspiration for the cinematic community. (He is believed to have visited the town in 1945.)
Visitors are encouraged to celebrate the film’s ties each December by taking part in a one-hour walking tour and judging the similarities for themselves. You can stand on the steel Bridge Street Bridge, similar to the one from which Jimmy Stewart’s character, George Bailey, jumped to “save” his guardian angel, Clarence.
If you want to learn more, you can always visit the It’s a Wonderful Life Museum at 32 Fall Street.
3. Macy’s: ‘Miracle on 34th Street’
The actual miracle on 34th Street in the 1947 movie, as well as the 1994 remake, takes place at 151 West 34th Street to be exact, Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square in New York.
Since 1924, the department store kicks off the Christmas shopping season with its annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, culminating with the arrival of Santa Claus at the parade’s finale.
After the parade, and until Christmas Eve, children can visit the “nice man with the white beard” like Susan Walker and tell Santa what they’d like for Christmas. It’s a great place in indulge in the nostalgia of the movie and make your own Christmas magic.
4. Bloomingdale’s and Serendipity 3: ‘Serendipity’
Part holiday movie, part romantic comedy, this 2001 film starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale opens during the holiday shopping rush with two then-strangers trying to buy the last pair of black cashmere gloves at Bloomingdale’s flagship store (1000 Third Avenue, 59th Street and Lexington Avenue). After initial sparks, the smitten characters, both in relationships, spend the rest of the evening together in New York.
The title of the movie itself is equal parts the definition of serendipity (Merriam-Webster lists it as “the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for”) and the New York restaurant where the two fated lovers partake in frozen hot chocolate.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth and an even sweeter romantic side, Serendipity 3 is at 225 E. 60th Street.
5. Selfridges & Co.: ‘Love Actually’
In 2003, romantically minded movie-goers got their first look at eight loosely tied couples dealing with their erratic love lives with the bustling Christmas season of London as the backdrop.
One of the standout scenes from the rom-com is the elaborate gift-wrapping sequence with actors Rowan Atkinson and Alan Rickman. That scene was filmed at Selfridges & Co. at 400 Oxford Street in London.
If you actually haven’t gotten enough of the movie’s vibe after going through one of London’s most venerable, classic department stores, the website Movie-Locations.com lists other places where the film was shot, actually.
6. Whovilles: ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’
Admittedly, this is case of life imitating art. And very few will argue that the 2000 full-length movie took on the mantle of “beloved Christmas classic” the way the 1966 animated TV short did.
But hey, it’s Christmas and that’s a time for bending the rules sometimes. So if hearing a song about seasick crocodiles and a brain full of spiders warms the cockles of your holiday heart, indulge yourself and the family with a trip to a real-life Whoville.
You have two choices to get your Grinchmas on: Universal Orlando Resort in Florida and Universal Studio Hollywood in California. Hear a live retelling of the classic, enjoying tree lightings, meet the Grinch himself and revel in the boldly colorful Who-ville world. Three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce not included.