Screen time meets time off.
While recent opportunities to curl up in the Fresh Prince’s Bel-Air crib, live the silver-spoon life at Downton Abbey, and be tickled pink in Barbie’s Malibu Dreamhouse were limited to a lucky few promotional bookings, a handful of other houses as seen on TV or at the movies are looking to extend their 15 minutes of fame with a second act as short-term rentals on a more regular basis. Which means you, too, can vacation like your favorite characters by reserving the following 15 residences that have hosted superheroes, reality stars, and various other scene stealers.
WHERE: Fairburn, Georgia
Assemble your team for dock fishing, night swims, quiet evenings by a fire, lazy afternoons on the wraparound porch, and reenactments of scenes from the final Avengers film (at least until Disney or Robert Downey Jr. need money). This lakeside cabin 30 minutes from Atlanta was Tony Stark’s home with Pepper Potts and his daughter after Infinity War and also the site of his funeral. Nestled on Bouckaert Farm, it only sleeps six superheroes who, like Ironman, will have to pay a steep price—$800 a night—to be a part of the Marvel Comics Universe.
INSIDER TIPIt isn’t likely you’ll have any run-ins with HYDRA operatives or members of Thanos’ crew, but you will share the woodsy wonderland with plenty of other creatures and creepy crawlies including deer, coyotes, turkeys, snakes, spiders, and blood-thirsty insects. Stay frosty and pack repellant.
WHERE: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Cook up some good times on the grill, around the billiards table, or next to the fire pit in the outdoor lounge of this 3,600 square-foot home that featured prominently in Hazard Pay (the third chapter of season five). Walter White and Jesse Pinkman disguise themselves as exterminators and whip up a fresh batch of meth in the four-bedroom suburban desert domicile. The house gets much more light when not tented for faux termites. Heisenberg habitués should declare themselves to hosts in advance so that they’ll leave out Breaking Bad kit, which includes Vamanos Pest Uniforms and hazmat suits to don for manipulative heart-to-hearts on the very couch Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul sat on.
INSIDER TIPThe hosts have put together a comprehensive self-guided tour of other series locations around town including Los Pollos Hermanos, Tuco’s headquarters, the O.G. White residence, and the retro car wash where Walt works as a cover. Most are within 30 minutes of the rental.
WHERE: Los Angeles
The final scene of HBO’s bro-tastic Hollywood series based loosely on Mark Wahlberg’s life saw super-agent Ari Gold finally done with deal-making and living la dolce vita on the Amalfi Coast. He’s poolside, drinking wine with his smoking hot wife at a grand villa when he’s tracked down and offered the ultimate power position while staring at the sparkling sea. Turns out, this was movie magic at its finest because Jeremy Piven and Perry Reeves never even left town. Call it L.A. dolce vita because the sprawling Italianate mansion, with its Romanesque swimming pool, decorative urns, and towering cypress trees is actually located in the hills of the Los Feliz neighborhood and Piven was actually staring at the skyscrapers of downtown. Given that it might be a while before Americans can safely dash across the pond to Italy, there are worse places to play make-believe Roman holiday than this plush guesthouse with access to the plunge and gardens.
The "Twilight" Franchise
WHERE: St. Helen’s, Oregon
Calling all Twi-hards! You can now temporarily nest in the 1930s charmer the heroine of the teen vampire fantasy and her cop father called home in the Pacific Northwest. While the film was set in Forks, Washington, the house that was used in the first chapter is found in a quaint town about 30 minutes from Portland. The owners keep it as close to how it looked when Charlie and Bella Swan roamed the halls as they can. This includes some genuine prop furniture like the dining room table where Charlie constantly cleaned his gun and first met her eternal paramour Edward Cullen. The kitchen remains a minty green hue with floral-patterned linoleum. It sleeps 10 in five bedrooms including Bella’s, which has views of the Columbia River waterfront, and one that features a beefy cardboard cutout of Taylor Lautner; guess they’re Team Jacob!
"Damages," "Solitary Man," and "Definitely, Maybe"
WHERE: Brooklyn, New York
Between sequels, prequels, reboots, and remakes, Hollywood is often accused of not having any original ideas. Turns out they often retrace their steps while location scouting, too. Such is the case with this free-standing Victorian in the tree-lined Ditmas Park neighborhood. It has been used in at least three productions—a Ryan Reynolds rom-com from 2008, a coming-of-middle-age story starring Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito, and the FX legal drama with Glenn Close and Rose Byrne. You can’t rent the whole house though. Just a bright second-floor room with a garden view, mini-fridge, and cable TV. Public transportation is easily accessed, which of course can deliver tourists to other popular filming locations like Prospect Park, Coney Island, and the Brooklyn waterfront walk.
"Sherlock" & "Dr. Who"
WHERE: Newport, Wales
Whether you come by car or TARDIS, it’s no mystery that this Victorian manor will provide a classy basecamp for up to 10 (time) travelers interested in well-preserved architecture, including a glass dome, bay windows, slipper tubs, and parquet floors, paired with modern-day amenities like a TV, sauna, dishwasher, and an iPod dock. It’s another repeat offender as it is regularly booked for film and TV shoots. The drawing room and master bedroom suite appeared in an episode of the Benedict Cumberbatch-Martin Freeman version of Sherlock called A Scandal in Belgravia. The tufted ivory chaise made a cameo as a naked Irene Adler shocked the detective disguised as a priest. The dining room, with its stately wood-paneled walls, was reimagined as Captain Latimer’s study in the 2012 Dr. Who Christmas special.
WHERE: Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina
Two weeks in this Palmetto State paradise changed the lives of soldier John (Channing Tatum) and college student Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) in this 2009 romance based on a Nicholas “The Notebook” Sparks bestseller. Staying in this four-bedroom blue beauty built around 1860 and listed on the National Historic Register for 14 days or more could be just as transformative. The property has witnessed the first shots of the Civil War at nearby Fort Sumter, German U-boats in World War II, subs leaving the Naval base for Cold War patrols, and the snarky stand-off between John and another of Savannah’s suitors. It’s also the backdrop of the beachfront barbeque she invites John to attend after he heroically retrieves her purse after it falls off the dock. It’s the same bonfire where they talk about full moons and their hopes and dreams. Use the private path to head down to the shore where the couple often canoodled and conversed. The screened porch is a perfect place to write love letters.
WHERE: Nikithianos, Greece
Let love take flight in the bedroom loft of this converted stone windmill just like Hannah B. and pilot Peter did—not once, but four times—during the 2019 fantasy-suite episode. Beyond the familiar and photogenic red door, you’ll quickly realize the real-life rental is a tad more rustic, especially in the light of day, than it’s sizzling on-screen counterpart. It’s obvious the ABC reality dating show’s producers edited the furniture, spruced up the linens, threw a handful of condoms in the wooden chest, and bathed the whole place in soft candlelight. One thing you’ll be glad is missing from your romantic rendezvous that plagued Hannah’s season: a judgmental abstinent hothead!
"Field of Dreams"
WHERE: Dyersville, Iowa
Sure, there’s no crying in baseball, but anyone with a heart would be hard-pressed to stay dry-eyed while watching this tearjerker from 1989. Especially if you’re watching it from the same nook Ray’s daughter watched a game and inquired about southpaws in the same farmhouse the bank was threatening to take back just a stone’s throw from the titular cornrow-surrounded sandlot where ghosts of pros past played ball and fielded life’s big questions. The movie studio built it, and fans are still coming to heaven Iowa 31 years later to run the diamond’s bases and tour the century-old abode turned movie set. True Kevin Costner connoisseurs and baseball buffs should stay overnight and enjoy the full Ray Kinsella experience, which includes a branded ball, a DVD, boxed popcorn, a book, and a bottle of wine for a picnic in centerfield like Ray and Annie did. Sadly, the porch swing is no longer there.
"American Horror Story: Coven"
WHERE: New Orleans, Louisiana
Whether you need a spot for a spooky season sojourn or a maison for Mardi Gras, this “elegantly decayed” Creole townhouse in Treme will do the trick. Built in 1855 for Louise Vitry and her French consort, its quintessential French Quarter flair—think wrought iron balcony railings, shutters, fancy fireplaces, marbled, vibrantly-colored walls, and 14-foot ceilings with medallions—has cast a spell on fashion and celebrity photographers as well as Hollywood folks like Ryan Murphy. The latter used it as Marie Laveau’s (Angela Basset) lair (and hair salon side hustle) in the witchy third season. Guests can fight over who gets to sleep in the voodoo priestess’ birthing bedroom and whip up a pot of Sunday gumbo in the lush back garden. NCIS: New Orleans also filmed in the house.
WHERE: Tokyo, Japan
The Lena Dunham series is legendarily linked to living in New York City, but every so often one of the fab four bounced on out of the Big Apple. In a few episodes of season five, Shoshanna Shapiro (Zosia Mamet) took on Tokyo after landing a marketing job there. For the quartet’s quirkiest member, not just any apartment would do. So she found herself holed up in quite possibly the most bizarre condos in the whole country with a strange name to boot. The Reversible Destiny Lofts Mitaka In Memory Of Helen Keller, conceptualized by architects/artists Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins, feature cube- and ball-shaped rooms in 14 different colors, central open kitchen-dining space combos, and ladders and poles to nowhere. Better be very comfortable with your travel companions as rooms have no doors.
"A Christmas Story"
WHERE: Cleveland, Ohio
Saying Brian Jones loves this holiday classic is an understatement. After starting a leg lamp business, he purchased Ralphie’s house (only used for exterior and shed scenes) on eBay (without seeing it in person first) in 2004, repainted the outside yellow and green, remodeled the interiors to mirror the movie down to the old-timey radio and couch doily, started collecting genuine props like a Red Ryder BB gun and Randy’s snowsuit, and opened a museum. Eventually, the superfan started allowing fellow fans to stay overnight. To hide under the kitchen sink, pose with dad’s Oldsmobile, fondle the leg lamp, or decode secret messages in the bathroom. And, should you shoot your eye out, the nearest hospital is only seven miles away. Rates fluctuate between $445 and $995 a night most of the year, but, as expected a Christmas Eve and Christmas Night, stay comes at a premium ($2,995 a night).
INSIDER TIPYou can also bunk down next door at the home of the Bumpuses, Ralphie’s hillbilly neighbors and their 785 smelly hound dogs, one of which stole the holiday turkey. The rates are more reasonable and between the two suites, it can sleep 10 people. Stays include complimentary house and museum tours.
WHERE: Cala d’Or, Majorca, Spain
While international travel has been severely restricted courtesy of coronavirus, many have had to settle for retreating into new and particularly picturesque Netflix programming, making mental notes (why yes, Emily, Paris is always a good idea!) for when surges stop and borders reopen. One such virtual voyage was this crime thriller where most characters took a pill or other drugs (or sold them) in Ibiza while another tried to solve her DJ brother’s murder. Turns out, though, that all the action didn’t happen on the notorious party isle. Marcus’ lavish seaside spread, known IRL as Villa Can Pirata, is actually on the island next door and boasts knockout views of the Mediterranean, a rock path down to the water, four bedrooms, an outdoor dining table, and an infinity-edged pool. But be on better behavior than Marcus or his houseguests. We’re assuming the cleaning fee won’t cover smuggling blow in a banana floatie or shooting someone with a harpoon gun.
WHERE: Seaside, New Jersey
It was a summer that will live in infamy. The 2009 first season of MTV’s ribald and raucous reality show documented the partying, grooming, and mating rituals of East Coast guys and the girls who love them, introduced “GTL” and “DTF” to everyday vernacular, and made instant stars out of seven strangers in the process. You can relive the glory days of grenades, fist pumps, and meatball-cop face-offs in the shingled crash pad a block from the Boardwalk while whipping up sausage and peppers in the open kitchen. Alas, you can’t do it in the hot tub that saw so much action as it appears to have been removed. It also seems Snooki didn’t return the duck phone after stealing it for the Miami Family Vacation. Thankfully, the Scarface poster remains, as do the full-size photo-realistic mural and mish-mash bedding. The listing says DJs are available for hire. If only they were talking about Pauly D.
You watch the show. You routinely use the cookbooks for dinner ideas, which you eat from the branded dishware. You’ve bought all the baskets, candles, and decorative wreaths at Target. The next logical step in your full-blown obsession with Joanna and Chip Gaines is to hang in the HGTV heroes’ homeland where numerous past projects can be rented for a fully immersive experience in their fantasyland of black and white color palettes, Shaker wall pegs, inspirational wall art, and reclaimed wood. The cult of cute and construction can be had at the Little House on the Prairie (Season 2, Episode 1) and the Mid-Mod (S2, E9), both in Waco, or at the horse barn-turned-five bedroom Barndominium (S3 E6) in Lacy Lakeview. The Gaines themselves are even in the hospitality game with three stylish showpieces of their own: Carriage House (S3), Hillcrest Estate, and Magnolia House B&B (S3).
INSIDER TIPWaco is now Mecca for Magnolia disciples. Round out your stay in one of their redos by visiting other Gaines enterprises including Magnolia Market, The Silos (a design Disneyland of sorts with retail stores, a garden shop and nursery, a restored church, food truck park, and a coming-soon baseball field), Magnolia Press café, Magnolia Table (serves breakfast and lunch), Silos Baking Co., and The Little Shop On Bosque (their original store site). There’s even a realty arm with listings all over the Lone Star State if you’re looking to extend your visit permanently.