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On TV or on the big screen, Christmas movies are a major part of the holiday season. And while some have been shot on backlots or sound stages, a good number of them have scenes in real-life locations you can actually visit. Here are the true-to-life venues appearing in these Christmas-themed films.

RELATED: The 25 merriest things to do in New York this season

A Christmas Story House & Museum

A Christmas Story: Cleveland, OH

Imagine not only seeing the house that was used as the exterior for the Parker residence, but also having the opportunity to tour it! In Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood, the fictional home to Ralphie Parker was turned into a public attraction where visitors can take tours and step inside an adjacent museum with props from the film and a gift shop to perhaps buy a replica of the famous electric leg lamp or a toy Red Ryder BB gun.

Home Alone, Winnetka, IL

Who can forget the movie that kicked off little Kevin McAllister’s constant family separations? This 1990 flick was filmed in Winnetka, a suburb north of Chicago, with the real-life house on Lincoln Avenue serving as the McCallister residence and Kevin’s strategically-adapted battlefield against the bumbling bandits Harry and Marv. It’s still a family home, so please don’t go up and say hello. However, you can visit Hubbard Woods Park, where Kevin runs through after inadvertently stealing a toothbrush. In nearby Wilmette, the Trinity United Methodist Church is where he encounters his neighbor, “old man Marley.”

The Plaza Hotel

Home Alone 2: New York, NY

New York City is pretty much a movie set unto its own. With many pictures to choose from, including “A Miracle on 34th Street,” “Serendipity,” ““Scrooged” and “Elf,” we went with this “Home Alone” sequel which finds Kevin accidentally heading to the Big Apple and crashing at The Plaza Hotel. Relive Kevin’s time there by having an over-the-top ice cream sundae delivered right to your bed. We won’t tell anyone.

The Santa Clause: Toronto, ON

Fans of this Disney film might know that Tim Allen is depicted as living and donning St. Nick’s suit in what’s referred to as Lakeside, Illinois (no such town exists). Actually, the true setting is in Canada, in a Greater Toronto suburb called Oakville. A number of the movie’s  scenes were filmed in downtown Oakville, a popular shopping district with some of their businesses making the final cut. Other venues also got some screen time, in particular the Toronto Zoo. Fun fact: The film’s reindeer were the zoo’s residents.

The LEGO Store at Mall of America | Photo: Courtesy of Mall of America and Meet Minneapolis

Jingle All the Way: Twin Cities, MN

Various locations within the Twin Cities appear in this 1996 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad. The Minneapolis Linden Hills neighborhood, home of real-life toy store Creative Kid Stuff, is featured in an outdoor scene. Another venue is the Mall of America in nearby Bloomington, where the characters are seen running through the LEGO Store. We’ve been told that because it was shot in the spring, snow had to be created for some of the exterior scenes.

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Michael Heffernan/London and Partners

Love Actually: London, UK

Visit the London locations where the lives of numerous characters in this romantic comedy-drama overlapped. The film’s opening and closing scenes depict people sending off or waiting for loved ones at Heathrow Airport; Liam Neeson talks to his stepson, Sam, about the agony of being in love at Gabriel’s Wharf on London’s South Bank; the Grosvenor Chapel is where Keira Knightley’s Juliet and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Peter get married; Selfridges on Oxford Street is where Rowan Atkinson frustratingly slows down Alan Rickman’s secret purchase of a gold necklace while his wife, Emma Thompson, is busy shopping.

Seneca Falls' "It's a WonderfulLife" parade.

Seneca Falls’ “It’s a WonderfulLife” parade.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Seneca Falls, NY

The screen location for this holiday classic starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed is believed to have been Seneca Falls, a village in upstate New York. Its residents are so certain this is true that the town puts on a festival every December with appearances by the actors who played George Bailey’s kids and direct relatives of the cast and crew involved with the film. Then there’s the It’s a Wonderful Life Museum, which holds memorabilia donated by the actress who played Zuzu and other related movie materials.

The Holiday: Surrey, UK

While Kate Winslet’s Iris swaps her cottage in southern England for Cameron Diaz’s LA abode, fans might be surprised to learn that Kate’s house was actually built for the film. The Surrey village of Shere was selected for its quaint look and contains one location that Diaz’s Amanda visited during her swap: the White Horse, a 16th-century pub. That’s where Amanda drives into town and meets Jude Law for a meal. Law’s Grant is shown as living in the Mill House, an actual home in Wonersh, a village in Surrey’s Waverley district.

Rittenhouse Square | Photo: M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA


Trading Places: Philadelphia, PA

It’s not exactly a Christmas movie, but this 1983 comedy with Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy was partly filmed in Philly and set around the holiday season with a wealthy Aykroyd and a homeless Murphy being subjected to two old-money brothers’ swapping bet. Rittenhouse Square is where Murphy pretends to be a blind man, while Aykroyd is seen leaving his posh digs at 2014 Delancey Street. Down on his luck Aykroyd gets help from Jamie Lee Curtis at the Clothespin sculpture on Market Street. The Duke & Duke building is now a Wells Fargo on South Broad Street and the Curtis Institute of Music was the exterior setting for the Heritage Club.

Fox Plaza (pictured right)

Die Hard: Los Angeles, CA

Some argue that this Bruce Willis action film is a Christmas classic, with its holiday party backdrop. In it, Willis’ John McClane is trying to save a Los Angeles office block from Alan Rickman and his terrorist group. Fictionally known as the Nakatomi Tower, the actual building is Fox Plaza, a tower that’s part of LA’s Century City complex. A fan filmsite says that the building’s 32nd  floor was still under construction at the time of filming, which is where Willis takes refuge as the plot thickens.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: Breckenridge, CO

The fictional Griswolds may live in Chicago, but some of the film’s outdoor scenes were shot in and near this Colorado mountain town. The film’s Christmas tree cutting scene, for example, happens at the Breckenridge Golf Club, and Clark’s out-of-control sled ride occurs at the Breckenridge Ski Resort’s Four O’ Clock Run, their longest trail. Clark is then seen dodging traffic on the road in Frisco on Summit Boulevard and eventually ends up in the Toys For Tots bin in front of a Wal-Mart.

Science Night Live at the Orlando Science Museum | PHOTO: Roberto Gonzalez

Science Night Live at the Orlando Science Center | PHOTO: Roberto Gonzalez

Ernest Saves Christmas: Orlando, FL

Hey, Vern: Did you know that Ernest P. Worrell’s holiday comedy was set in Orlando? This movie featuring Jim Varney’s goofy character has taxi driver Ernest picking up Santa Claus from Orlando International Airport and taking him to Orlando Children’s Museum to meet his successor. The museum is actually the Orlando Science Center (now at a different location). Later on, Harmony (real name Pamela) tries to run away with Santa’s sack at Orlando Amtrak Station but has a change of heart.

Tagged: California, Canada, Chicago, Chicago, Colorado, Europe, Florida, London, Los Angeles, Midwest, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Tennessee, Toronto

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Michele Herrmann

Michele Herrmann

Michele writes about women's travel, destinations, culinary, and cultural topics for various outlets and has ventured as far as Fiji, to date. She also muses her tales on She Is Going Places.
Michele Herrmann

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