Popular shows like The White Lotus and Ted Lasso are boosting tourism opportunities in exotic destinations around the world
By Heather Dale
Pop culture sites have been intriguing destinations since family road trips became a common pastime. While television brings stories to life in our living rooms, we can leave the couch and travel to familiar places where the stories unfold while contributing to local tourism. Here are 10 acclaimed television shows that are filmed on location where you can visit and feel like a part of the story.
The White Lotus (Season 2) – Sicily, Italy
Since the release of the much-anticipated season two of HBO’s The White Lotus, Sicily has seen a spike in tourism interest. Internet searches for the show’s filming locations have almost doubled according to Google Trends data. If you want to stay in The White Lotus hotel and experience Sicily’s alluring locale, you can. The show was filmed on location at the palatial Four Seasons’ San Domenico Palace hotel in Taormina. Also seeing a surge in interest are the two private palazzos featured in the show as well as areas like Palermo, Noto and the Ionian Sea.
Ted Lasso – Richmond, England
Richmond, England is the quintessential postcard picture of London, or at least what Americans see when they think of the idyllic location. But when Ted Lasso, one of the world’s most-watched TV shows was filmed on location there, tourists from around the globe started flocking to the area. Visitors can walk the cobblestone alley where Ted’s flat is located and have a drink at the fictional The Crown & Anchor, known in real life as Richmond’s beloved The Prince’s Head pub. The once quiet town is now on the map as a top popular culture tourist destination for tv shows filmed on location.
Bridgerton – Bath, England
Netflix captured global audiences with the phenomenal period piece Bridgerton. Fans of the show have shown interest in places featured on screen including Lady Danbury’s opulent estate located in historic Bath. The stand-in is really the Holburne Museum and former Sydney Gardens which is open and invites the public to study over 10,000 artifacts collected over 200 years by the Holburne family. Also located in Bath is a Georgian architectural marvel, the Royal Crescent which served as the outside of the Featherington household.
Yellowstone – Montana
With stunning landscapes and jaw-dropping scenery, it’s no wonder Tyler Sheridan’s hit series, Yellowstone has fans racing to Big Sky Country. According to a study conducted by the University of Montana (UM), the tv show attracted more than two million people to the state in 2021. The study also stated that a whopping $730 million was spent in Montana thanks to new tourism opportunities contributing significantly to their economy. Most of the show was filmed in Missoula driving tourism revenue up in that area and surrounding destinations. Over 10,000 jobs were created and because of the show, thousands have relocated to the Wild West.
The Bear – Chicago
FX’s original series, The Bear, has added to the already appealing Chicago cityscape as a prime filming location. Based on a family sandwich shop and the turmoil of life after loss, this show was filmed on location at a few iconic Chicagoland sites. Mr. Beef on Orleans is the actual restaurant where the shop scenes were filmed. Cravings for the show’s classic Italian beef sandwich have grown exponentially since the show became a hit, not only in Chicago but in delis around the country. Thanks to regular appearances by the actors in places like Richard’s Bar, tourism is only getting stronger thanks to The Bear filming on location in Chicago.
Only Murders in the Building – Upper West Side, New York City
Hulu’s popular show, Only Murders in the Building, was filmed on location at The Belnord in the posh Upper West Side of Manhattan. With its stunning courtyard and elegant façade, The Belnord was transformed into the show’s iconic Arconia building which Steve Martin, Selena Gomez and Martin Short all live.
The 1908 building is on the National Register of Historic Places and has since embraced an influx of visitors since the filming of the show. According to Maya Kadouri, sales director at The Belnord, a younger demographic has shown interest in the building thanks to Gomez while seasoned comedians Short and Martin continue to captivate audiences everywhere. Recognition of the building is apparent by the growth of Instagram-worthy shots and photos outside the unmistakable and opulent exterior cropping up on social media.
Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – New Zealand
Not just any old place would do when it came to filming on location in J.R.R. Tolkien’s magical Middle-earth. As the newest Lord of the Rings installment plays to millions of fans on Prime Video, The Rings of Power is putting the spotlight back on New Zealand’s captivating unspoiled landscapes.
According to Tourism New Zealand, “Tolkien Tourism” was worth a whopping $330 million in 2019 from the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) fans alone. One in five visitors learned about the ruggedly awe-inspiring country through LOTR and Hobbit franchises driving tourism way up. The Rings of Power fans from around the globe can immerse in the backdrops used for many scenes filmed on location including Auckland, Piha and the North Island’s pristine Coromandel Peninsula, otherwise known as Númenor, the great fallen kingdom of Men.
Yellowjackets – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
For fans of Showtime’s blockbuster tv show Yellowjackets, braving frigid temperatures are worth the visit to Calgary where many of the shots were filmed on location. Another filming locale was Vancouver, British Columbia where fans can visit Finch’s Market, the tea house that served as a backdrop for the revered cast of characters. Other Vancouver staples noticed an uptick in tourism thanks to the show’s appearance in their rugged region. Brix & Mortar restaurant and Panther Paintball, where the cabin scenes were filmed, are popular destinations for dedicated viewers.
American Horror Story: Coven – New Orleans
Did you know that New Orleans offers an actual American Horror Story tour based on the Coven season? The two-hour in-depth walking tour brings fellow witches through the historic French Quarter of New Orleans for an immersive, and perhaps spooky experience. Packed with historically significant sites used to film on location, the tour has helped bring even more attention to the bewitching bayous of New Orleans. Thanks to filming on location and incorporating much of the factual witchcraft history into the show, tourism has been on the rise since the season aired.
Emily in Paris – Paris, France
Netflix’s Emily in Paris has bolstered an already iconic tourist destination and added new intrigue. According to Paris je T’aime communications director Lepaux-Crochet Simon, Emily in Paris “has generated economic benefits for tourism in terms of accommodations, leisure activities and transportation. Some places in the series have seen their attendance increase like the Boulangerie Moderne, for example.” One iconic site from the show includes “the prettiest street in Paris” called Rue de I’Abreuvoir in Montmartre. Another is the famed restaurant Maison Rose, where Emily and other characters dined. Real-life stars known to have eaten there include Pablo Picasso and Edith Piaf.