Photo: 2020 Hulu / Element Pictures / Enda Bowe
For many of us avid travelers, screens have become our only windows to the outside world. Luckily, this spring’s crop of new bingeable shows has proven particularly wanderlust-inspiring, whisking us away to an (impossibly cheap and rentable) Italian villa, a Victorian castle in Upstate New York, and even a humble Mexican restaurant in East LA—all places you can actually visit in the hopefully very near future. Here’s our ultimate curated watchlist to prepare you for your next adventure.
Photos: 2020 Hulu / Element Pictures / Enda Bowe
Irish author Sally Rooney’s 2018 novel was No. 25 on the Guardian’s 100 best books of the 21st century list, and this swoon-worthy adaptation should prove just as much of an instant classic. Spanning their high school and university years, the show follows the on-again-off-again-on-again romance of misunderstood outcast Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and popular jock Connell (Paul Mescal) who meet in their fictional hometown of Carricklea. These scenes were filmed in Tubbercurry, County Sligo, the kind of nondescript village that visiting Americans find dreamy and locals can’t wait to escape; if you’re looking to recapture some of that magic, grab a pint at Killoran’s pub or T. Brennan’s bar, both of which were used as filming locations.
In episode 2, the pair heads out to a patch of grassy seaside dunes, depicted as a short walk from town. In reality, picturesque Streedagh Beach sits about 45 minutes north of Tubbercurry on the Wild Atlantic Way. A favorite among surfers, the beach was also the site of three Spanish Armada shipwrecks—perhaps an unintended metaphor for this oft-rocky relationship—and you can still walk among remnants of the boats.
In later episodes, the action shifts to Dublin’s Trinity College (the alma mater of Rooney, Mescal, and director Lenny Abrahamson) and even on to Luleå in Swedish Lapland, where Marianne studies abroad and memorably walks out on the frozen Baltic Sea under the pinkish glow of the midnight sun. But in terms of locations that will immediately have you booking a flight, it’s hard to beat the Italian villa where Marianne, Connell, and some friends stay in episode 8. Located near the village of Sant’Oreste, about 20 miles north of Rome, the historic Tenuta di Verzano Il Casale sleeps six, features an idyllic in-ground pool with mountain views, and can be booked on Airbnb for under $50 a night.
New York City
Photos: Comedy Central
What Girls did for Brooklyn and Sex and the City did for Manhattan, this raunchy but heartfelt, semi-autobiographical sitcom is doing for the Crazy Rich Asians scene-stealer’s home borough. Rapper-comedian Awkwafina celebrated the premiere by recording announcements for the 7 train, such as “Welcome to my borough!” and “Hey, fellas, stop manspreading.”
The animated opening credits feature such iconic Queens locations as the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park (the alien landing site in Men in Black), but eagle-eyed viewers will also notice a cartoon Easter egg: the now-shuttered Lum’s, which was opened by Awkwafina’s great-grandfather in Flushing in the 1950s, making it one of the first Chinese restaurants in what would become, by some counts, the world’s largest Chinatown. She honors the local culinary landscape with scenes filmed at Manhattan Chinatown’s New Kim Tuong Restaurant and Flushing’s Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan, and in the pilot, she even wears a Congee Village menu T-shirt by designer Sandy Liang (whose parents own the NYC institution).
In episode 8, Awkwafina’s character Nora takes a back seat to tell the origin story of her grandmother (Lori Tan Chinn) in rural China in 1965. Inspired by the plot twists and lush visuals of a soapy Korean drama (Awkwafina is half-Korean), the episode looks as if it were shot on location, but the crew only had to cross a few bridges—rather than an ocean—to get to set: That’s because the “village” is actually the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden in Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Every piece of this garden, from the tiles to the windows to the paving stones, was fabricated in Suzhou and shipped to New York in 1998.
Santa Barbara County, California
CBS All Access
Photos: ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved/Matt Kennedy
CBS’s newest installment in the Star Trek franchise picks up 14 years after Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) has retired from Starfleet. The year is 2399, and while you might expect him to be spending his golden years in some orbital over-55 community, the Next Generation captain is actually living at Château Picard, his family’s winemaking estate in Le Barre, Burgundy. But oenophile Trekkies shouldn’t book a flight to France just yet. Vineyard scenes were shot at Sunstone Vineyards, Winery, and Villa in Santa Ynez, California, about 35 minutes north of Santa Barbara. If his villa looks particularly authentic, that’s very much by design: Reclaimed limestone was imported from a small French village, the fireplace was shipped in from Bordeaux, pine beams were salvaged from Queen Victoria’s lavender factory, and one of the doors was sourced from a Napoleon-era prison cell. Club Sunstone Reserve Members can even make like Picard and stay at the villa overnight.
To slightly complicate matters, there really is a Château Picard in Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux, though it long predates the TV show. In fact, it achieved its Cru Bourgeois classification in 1932, 55 years before the start of Star Trek: Next Generation. Last year, that winery’s owners collaborated with producers on a line of official Star Trek Wines that includes a (real) Château Picard Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux.
Photos: Anika Molnar/Netflix
Inspired by Deborah Feldman’s 2012 autobiography of the same name, this four-episode Netflix miniseries—the first largely in Yiddish—follows 19-year-old Esty Shapiro (Israeli actress Shira Haas) and her flight from her ultra-conservative Hasidic community and arranged marriage in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. After escaping to Berlin, she and a few new friends go to a sandy beach on the shores of Großer Wannsee, a lake in the southwestern suburbs of Berlin. As her friends strip down to bikinis and swim trunks, Esty remains in her long skirt, stockings, and sheitel (a wig worn by married Orthodox women), and her friend tells her two facts about the lake: The villa across the water hosted the 1942 conference at which Nazis decided to implement the Final Solution, and later, when the Berlin Wall was up, East German guards used to shoot people trying to swim across to freedom. Taken aback, she asks, “And you swim in this water?” to which her friend replies, “The lake is just a lake.” In a memorable sign of her new liberation, Esty swims out into the water and removes her wig to reveal her shaved head.
New York City
Photos: 2019 Hulu Phillip Caruso
Nick Hornby’s 1995 London-set novel, about a record shop owner obsessed with desert-island top five lists, has taken a long route to get to this TV show. The book begat a 2000 Chicago-set film starring John Cusack, a 2006 Brooklyn-set Broadway musical, and finally this year’s gender-reversed Hulu comedy, starring Zoë Kravitz as Rob.
The story has been transported to Brooklyn’s rapidly gentrifying Crown Heights neighborhood, where Rob owns Championship Vinyl and frequents a dive called Allied Bar. While both spots are fictional, the show fortunately filmed at enough real-life Big Apple locations to warrant a Rob-style top-five list of places to visit:
- Get caffeinated at Tony’s Deli Grocery Corp., the bodega on the corner of Sterling Place and Bedford Avenue where Rob buys her no-frills morning coffees.
- Catch a show at Good Room, the Greenpoint music venue where Rob first sees Scottish rocker Liam Shawcross (Thomas Doherty) playing a cover of Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love to You.”
- Grab brunch at Glady’s, a Crown Heights jerk restaurant. Rob orders a mimosa, but you should opt for something from their wide rum selection, with bottles from Guyana, Trinidad, Haiti, and more.
- Drink rosé at Williamsburg’s Cafe Colette, the bar where Rob grudgingly admits that her ex’s new girlfriend’s preferred drink (frosé!) is actually delicious.
- Go for a “whiskey neat—cheap” (Rob’s order, but feel free to splurge on something better) at Bemelmans Bar in the Upper East Side’s Carlyle Hotel. In episode 5, a smug record collector mansplains to Rob that the murals on the wall were handpainted by the bar’s namesake, Ludwig Bemelmans, the writer and illustrator of the Madeline series.
Photos: SAEED ADYANI/NETFLIX
Set during the 1940s heyday of the studio system, Ryan Murphy’s revisionist take on Golden Age Hollywood needed a backlot as a centerpiece filming location. In episode 1, audiences see protagonist Jack Castello (David Corenswet) waiting in a crowd of wannabe extras outside fictional Ace Studios. In a nod to industry history, the ornate arched entryway is “played” by the Bronson Gate at Paramount Studios, the last of the major “Big Five” studios still based in Hollywood. Built in 1926, the gate has featured prominently in a number of classic films (it’s the spot where Sunset Boulevard’s Norma Desmond is turned away by guards and utters her iconic line “Without me, there wouldn’t be any Paramount Studio”) and local legends (the wrought-iron embellishments were supposedly added to keep out rabid Rudolph Valentino fans). Charles Bronson even used to say that it inspired his stage name. While it used to be the front entrance to the studio, the gate now stands within the backlot, so you’ll have to book a studio tour to see it firsthand.
When you’re finished with the tour, head to The Prince in Koreatown, where real-life agent Henry Wilson (Jim Parsons) takes star-in-the-making Rock Hudson (Jake Picking) for a meeting in episode 3. Opened in 1927 as The Windsor, this L.A. institution—with its crimson banquettes, velvet brocade wallpaper, and British redcoat lamps—may look familiar. That’s because it’s been used in everything from Chinatown to Mad Men, and it was even the spot where Nick (Jake Johnson) tended bar on FOX’s New Girl. Other locations to add to your Hollywood-themed itinerary include Musso & Frank Grill, Boardner’s bar, The Dresden, Monty Bar, the Orpheum Theatre, and the Art Deco Oviatt Building, all of which make cameos.
Upstate New York
Photos: Courtesy of Amazon Studios
You could never accuse Greg Daniels’s biggest hit sitcom, The Office, of being wanderlust-inspiring. But his latest sci-fi series trades in a nondescript Scranton office block for one of America’s great resorts. The concept: It’s the year 2033, and humans now have the ability to upload themselves into their preferred digital afterlives. Bro-y coder Nathan (Robbie Amell) finds himself living out eternity in luxurious “Lakeview,” and exterior shots for this slice of heaven were filmed at the Mohonk Mountain House, which was founded in 1869 just outside New Paltz, New York. Resembling a Victorian castle, the National Historic Landmark–designated resort is surrounded by 40,000 wooded acres on the Shawangunk Ridge, and it’s postcard-perfect any time of year; in the show, Nathan’s room is even equipped with a thermostat to change the scene outside from snowy hillsides to, say, colorful fall foliage. Upload isn’t the first time the Mohonk Mountain House has stood in for a utopia (of sorts): The hotel is featured in 1994’s The Road to Wellville, a comedic look at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, where John Harvey Kellogg (Anthony Hopkins) doles out such questionable treatments as electrified baths and up-to-five-times-daily enemas.
United Kingdom and Italy
Photos: 2020 Hulu Andrea Pirrello/Nick Wall/Ollie Upton
If you liked the 2018 black comedy The Favourite, you’ll love this irreverent and anachronistic Catherine the Great bio-series by the same screenwriter, Oscar nominee Tony McNamara. Season one, which premieres May 15, follows the arrival of the Prussian-born future empress (Elle Fanning) in Russia to marry the erratic and immature emperor, Peter III (Nicholas Hoult). It doesn’t take long for Catherine to decide that—historical spoiler alert!—this womanizing, drunk, warmongering manchild will need to be deposed, and she could be just the woman for the job.
The show’s title card is quick to point out that this is only “an occasionally true story,” and that extends to the filming locations. While the royal couple would have spent these years at their palace in St. Petersburg, the production design team instead cobbled together the best parts of a number of palaces, castles, and estates to create an architectural Frankenstein’s monster: Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, which also featured in The Favourite; Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire; Ham House in Surrey; Castle Howard in North Yorkshire; and Hever Castle in Kent.
But the grandest scenes of all are shot at the Reggia di Caserta, a palace just outside Naples that ranks as the world’s largest royal residence by volume. Want to know if you’re looking at a Caserta-set scene? Keep your eyes peeled for impossibly magnificent Baroque settings—such as the marble-lion-flanked Grand Staircase of Honor or the sprawling internal courtyards—that look as if they were designed to rival and dwarf Versailles, because, well, they were. The UNESCO World Heritage Site also served as the palace of Queen Amidala in the Star Wars prequels and the Vatican in last year’s The Two Popes.
Netflix’s new feel-good dramedy is a story of gentrification in East L.A.’s Boyle Heights neighborhood, where almost 95 percent of the population identifies as Hispanic or Latin. The series follows three Mexican-American cousins, whose grandfather Pop (Joaquín Cosío, who played Don Neto in Narcos: Mexico) owns a beloved local restaurant called Mama Fina’s Taco. Much of the show was filmed right in Boyle Heights on the soundstages of L.A. Hangar Studios, but occasionally production would venture out into the streets. The barrel-tile-roofed storefront used for the fictional taqueria sits at the intersection of Cesar Chavez and Townsend Avenue and houses La Ronda Restaurant, which serves giant micheladas, Mexican-style shrimp cocktail, ceviche, and fried whole mojarra fish.