10 Classic TV Vacation Episodes Filmed on Location


Hot off an insane haul at Sunday night’s Emmy Awards, Modern Family kicks off its third season tonight with a special one-hour premiere — a family vacation episode filmed at a dude ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In honor of everyone’s favorite comedy trading the soundstage for the real world, here are ten other TV vacation episodes that were shot on location. Did we miss your favorite? Leave it in the comments.

The Brady Bunch in Hawaii

The Brady Bunch may have very well originated the idea of taking a TV show on the road. While I Love Lucy famously had the Ricardos and Mertzes spend an extended vacation in Hollywood, since the show was filmed in Los Angeles, the series was only taking advantage of its real-life setting. The Bradys traveled to Oahu for a three-episode arc that famously revolved around Bobby’s cursed tiki idol, which brings bad luck to the bunch. After a surfing accident, hostage-taking by a misguided professor and a serenade from Don Ho, the Bradys regain their mojo and leave the island feeling as groovy as ever.

Since then, many shows have taped vacation episodes in Hawaii, including The Jeffersons, Growing Pains, Full House, Saved By The Bell, Cougar Town, and Modern Family.

Scrubs in Aruba

Scrubs pays direct homage to The Brady Bunch’s Hawaii episodes when J.D. and Turk wear tiki necklaces and sing “doo-do-doo” each time either of them experiences bad luck on their Aruba excursion, echoing the music used in the Brady episodes. The Sacred Heart gang went to the Caribbean island for The Janitor’s wedding, and since the show used an abandoned hospital as its set, no doubt the actors enjoyed the chance to film on pristine beaches instead. Besides the change of scenery, the two-part episode was also notable for showrunner Bill Lawrence’s cameo as a loopy wedding officiant.

Friends in London

The Must-See sitcom was wildly popular in the UK, so to pay homage to its fans across the pond, the show not only filmed “in London, baby!” but also taped scenes there in front of a live studio audience. All the friends made the trip overseas for Ross’ wedding except for Phoebe. Like Lisa Kudrow, she was pregnant and could not travel, and shot her scenes separately in Los Angeles. Even though the two-part episode was the only time the series did not film on the Warner Bros. lot, it’s better remembered as a turning point in the show’s history, when Monica and Chandler hooked up for the first time.

Roseanne at Disney World

If your show aired on ABC in the ’90s, it was very likely that your cast would end up filming a vacation episode at Disney World. Whereas most of the shows filmed at the Mouse House were shiny happy series like Family Matters, Full House, and Boy Meets World, one would think that the downtrodden Conner clan would have a subversive take on the so-called Happiest Place on Earth. Alas, the family dutifully marveled at all the amusement park had to offer; even sourpuss Darlene, who did her best to resist its charms, eventually gives in to Disney World after some quality time with Winnie the Pooh.

The Facts of Life in Australia

Give The Facts of Life credit: whereas most sitcoms tend to go to Hawaii or Disney World for their big vacation episodes, they chose to go Down Under. Like the girls’ trip to France a few years earlier, the vacation was filmed as TV movie, then broken up into individual episodes for syndication. While in Australia, Blair and Jo mix it up with jewel thieves and Tootie and Natalie explore the Outback, where Tootie meets a very young Mario Van Peebles.

Family Ties in London

Another ’80s sitcom, another family vacation filmed as a TV movie. The purpose of the Keatons’ trip to London is for Alex to check out Oxford University, but they soon get entangled in a silly spy caper involving microfilm hidden in their belongings. Despite being trailed by nefarious yet bumbling spies, the Keatons find time to take in the usual tourist spots like Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace.

Everybody Loves Raymond in Italy

Considering the family’s roots, it made sense that if the series would film a vacation episode, it would be set it in Italy. The Barones travel to the motherland to visit their relatives, and everyone is ecstatic to be there except for Ray. Eventually he learns to love Italy, thanks to two boys playing soccer and some really great pizza, and he and Debra tour Rome and the countryside in a montage set to the score from Il Postino.

Blossom in Paris

Why is it that when sitcom characters cross international waters, they seem to become embroiled in crime and intrigue? Four episodes are devoted to Blossom’s stay in the City of Lights, where she goes to visit her estranged mother. Her brothers Joey and Anthony follow her to Paris, leading to shenanigans for the Russo boys that culminate in a chase sequence to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Quelle whoa!

Head of the Class in Moscow

Technically, Mr. Moore’s class of gifted students weren’t taking a vacation when they flew to Russia, but the filming location is so unique that it deserves a spot on this list. While visiting the city to compete in a debate, the kids spend most of the episode sightseeing and experiencing culture clashes with their Russian counterparts. (Unsurprisingly, one plot point revolved around two of the students suspecting local girls of being KGB agents). Head of the Class made TV history with this episode, as it was the first American sitcom to film in the Soviet Union.

Ugly Betty in the Bahamas

Like Head of the Class, this wasn’t a vacation episode, but it’s set in a vacation resort, so we think it counts. Betty and her Mode co-workers visit the Atlantis Resort for a photo shoot, and most of the action revolves around a love triangle with Betty and Amanda realizing that they are are both in love with the same guy. They decide who gets him by…racing down the Atlantis’ famous water slide? Okay, then. To add to the randomness, Shakira pops by in a cameo.