The Fictional Places That Attract Real-Life Tourists

Hang with hobbits, brunch with Bond, and try not to shoot your eye out.
A visitor pitches from the mound at the Field of Dreams during a family vacation in 1996. (Kevin Wolf / AP)

In the new April issue of the The Atlantic, Adam Doster tells the story of the real-life Field of Dreams that turned Dyersville, Iowa into a worldwide tourist destination after the movie became an unlikely Hollywood hit. When new owners bought the field and the adjoining farm in 2011 and announced ambitious plans to develop a multi-field sports complex, the field stopped being so dreamy and started dividing the town politically. But the Field of Dreams is hardly the first fictional setting to draw visitors to its real-life location—here are seven others from around the world.


Brian Jones poses with his Red Ryder air rifle outside the renovated A Christmas Story home in Cleveland. (Amy Sancetta / AP)

A Christmas Story
The Parkers' House

When life-long A Christmas Story fan Brian Jones failed his vision test to become a Navy pilot, his father built him a consolation prize: a lamp with a woman's leg as the base, just like the one Ralphie's father wins in the 1983 holiday classic. Jones loved the lamp so much that he started his own company to manufacture replicas, and when the house from the movie went up for sale in 2004, he used some of his lamp-making profits to buy the Cleveland, Ohio, home on eBay, sight unseen, for $150,000. While only the home's exterior and backyard were used in the movie, Jones spent close to $240,000 transforming the inside into an exact replica. He has also turned the house across the street into a Christmas Story memorabilia museum that attracts 50,000 visitors each year by his estimate. Some of the items are from Jones' personal collection, but much of it comes from other fans. “A lot of it finds me,” Jones said last year. "People who worked on the film read about the house and call me up and say, 'Guess what I've got?'"

Paul Stephenson / Flickr

On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Piz Gloria

Production manager Hubert Frölich spent three weeks traveling across France and Switzerland searching for a real-life Piz Gloria, the snow-capped headquarters of long-time James Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld for 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service. When he came across a rotating restaurant atop the 9,744-foot Schilthorn peak in the Bernese alps, he knew he'd found the spot. "It was as if [Bond author Ian] Fleming had seen the exact location and had described it," Frölich said. There was one problem: Construction was incomplete, so the filmmakers team struck a deal. In exchange for using the spot as Blofeld's hideout, the production would finance completion of the property, including a helicopter pad and the cable car station by which it's accessible. Today, the restaurant retains the Piz Gloria name and honors its cinematic heritage with museum displays and a daily James Bond breakfast, during which 007 fans can spot roughly 200 mountains during one solar-powered rotation. Martinis—shaken, not stirred, of course—are readily available at the bar.

Paramount Pictures

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Cameron's House

Nicknamed for the photographer who once owned it, the iconic glass-walled Ben Rose home in Highland Park, Illinois, is a part of 1980s teen-movie history. Yet despite its starring role in the John Hughes classic, it's been a hard sell to prospective homeowners. The house first went on the market unsuccessfully in 2009 with an asking price of $2.3 million before returning last year at the significantly reduced price of $1.5 million instead. As Chicago magazine reported, the realtors' new plan was to emphasize its architectural pedigree—A. James Speyer designed the home, first built in 1953, in the style of Ludwidg Mies van der Rohe—over its pop-culture legacy. (Speyer's student, David Haid, built the second unit in 1974 as a showroom for Rose's car collection.) But as Chicago noted, there are plenty of reasons why the architecture isn't a total draw. The building's interior was in major need of renovation, the adjustable walls were impractical though stylish, and the two separate units were a poor fit for Chicago winters. The number of Bueller fans who stop by for pictures—its spot at 370 Beech Street is no secret—probably didn't help. If only a red-hot 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California came with it.

A crowd gathers in front of Tom's Restaurant in anticipation of the final episode of Seinfeld in 1998. (Ed Betz / AP)

Seinfeld
Monk's Café

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Nolan Feeney is a former producer for TheAtlantic.com.

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