Who hasn’t wished they could disappear into the novel they’re reading, or visit the world of their favorite film? People, it’s possible — at least sometimes. When we first heard that we were going to be able to visit a complete Hobbiton next year, we admit that the nerds in us got pretty excited. Not only that, but we started daydreaming about all our favorite fictional locales that we desperately wish we could visit. We’ve already given you a guide to mythical vacations, but now for something slightly more attainable: a list of fictional places you can actually visit in real life, whether because they’ve been created for the purpose or because they’ve actually existed all along. Click through to get a few ideas for your next vacation, and let us know which of these you’d most like to visit in the comments.
Though the original set of Hobbiton from the Lord of the Rings films has been mostly dismantled and/or left to decay, the set of The Hobbit is being built to last, and will be a permanent, maintained site in Matamata, New Zealand, complete with forty-four hobbit holes, a bridge, and the Green Dragon pub and available to visit in 2012.
You already knew you could visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and drink your fill of butterbeer and get reminded over and over again that you’re a muggle, but starting next year, you’ll also be able to visit parts of the actual set of the films at the Making of Harry Potter installation at the Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden outside Watford, England. Be warned: you’ll see the gadgetry behind the self-scrubbing pots, so this is not for the true believers.
You can actually visit Downton Abbey — er, Highclere Castle, as it’s actually named — in Berkshire, UK. The set of the British TV period drama has apparently been bringing in the tourists since the show premiered last year. No word on whether you’ll find a smart match there, though. Probably not, actually — the guys (and girls) you really want to meet have their own castles to hang out at.
Doctor Who’s Cardiff
If you visit Cardiff, the city in which the cult British TV show Doctor Who was filmed, you can take a four hour tour of locations relevant to the story, including where the rift cracked open, Amy Pond’s village, and Rose Tyler’s workplace, as well as sites from the spin off shows Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. Though their permanent exhibition has closed, supposedly a “brand new experience” is coming to us in 2012.
Holden Caulfield’s New York
If you’re looking for the full Holden Caulfield experience, you can follow this map to Holden’s New York, which will take you to places both real (though the ducks never leave that pond, even in the winter) and imaginary — or rather, fictionalized, like the Edmont Hotel, where Holden encounters a prostitute named Sunny. “You kind of triangulate a little bit” Peter G. Beidler, the author of A Reader’s Companion to J. D. Salinger’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, which informed the map, told the Times , “He goes so many blocks away, goes here, goes there. I was always able to figure out more or less where he was.”
Rosslyn Chapel, actually titled Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew, is the setting for part of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. The chapel is steeped in mystery, covered with strange carvings, some of which depict corn and aloe vera, which wouldn’t arrive in Europe for a few hundred years. Whether the secret of the holy grail is hidden in its design, well, we may never know.
The Hundred-Acre Wood
A.A. Milne’s tales of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends are set in Ashdown Forest, in Sussex, England — Milne even wrote in his autobiography that “Pooh’s forest and Ashdown Forest are identical.” Many locations in the stories exist in the forest, like Galleon’s Leap (actually known as Gill’s Lap). Pooh-sticks is even played there on occasion.