For many people, the movies they enjoy annually around the holidays can be among their most beloved seasonal traditions. If you're interested in taking your obligatory Christmas viewing to the next level, you might consider visiting these iconic, open-to-the-public settings once used as filming locations for holiday classics.
There's no shortage of attractive locations in both the U.S. and U.K. featured in this 2006 holiday rom-com about two women who swap homes and meet new men in their time abroad. One goes to Los Angeles, where she's seen eating in the Beverly Hills restaurant Grill on the Alley, while the other goes to the English countryside in the idyllic village of Shere — but amusingly enough, is still shown dining at another L.A. landmark, the Greystone Mansion.
'WHEN HARRY MET SALLY'
Another classic rom-com, albeit with a slightly more tenuous tie to the holidays, "When Harry Met Sally" is at times a showcase for Manhattan's most beloved attractions, including Central Park or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The famous "I'll have what she's having" diner scene was filmed in a famous sandwich spot that's only slightly less iconic — Katz's Delicatessen in the Lower East Side.
'A CHRISTMAS STORY'
This seasonal staple was filmed mostly in Cleveland, where the house used as Ralphie's home still stands more or less as it appeared in the film and is open for tours at 3159 W. 11th St. Ralphie first sees his beloved Red Ryder BB gun in the city's Public Square, while the family is forced to spend Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant actually in Toronto, now a French bistro called Batifole.
As with most John Hughes productions, "Home Alone" was set in and filmed around Chicago, so both the airport young Kevin's family flies from and the one they land in is O'Hare International. The house used as the McCallisters' is north of the city in Winnetka, near Station Park, which was used as the village green where Kevin sees Santa Claus.
HOME ALONE: LOST IN NEW YORK'
For the first "Home Alone" sequel, Kevin lives it up in Manhattan at the ritzy Plaza Hotel, also making detours to popular New York sights such as Central Park, Rockefeller Center, and the Wollman Skating Rink. Though many of the film's less iconic exteriors and interiors were still filmed in Chicago, there's also the upscale retro Empire Diner, once again open for business.
This Christmas-set buddy cop classic is a showcase for locations throughout Long Beach and South L.A. — a woman jumps from the round International Tower in Long Beach at the film's start, and Mel Gibson's character lives in a trailer on Dockweiler State Beach in El Segundo, then later tries to jump himself from the Emser Building, home of the Emser tile company, on Santa Monica Boulevard.
'IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE'
Most of this moving 1946 paean to small-town life was shot on-set around Hollywood, while an early scene in which Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey courts Mary prominently features the Beverly Hills High School's "Swim Gym" — a unique basketball court that parts to reveal an Olympic swimming pool first built in 1939.
"Elf" is yet another New York-set Christmas movie with scenes set at Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, and Central Park, where Santa's sleigh partially collides with the real Bethesda Terrace fountain. The exterior of Buddy's father's apartment building at 55 Central Park West may also seem familiar to some viewers, as it was also used as Dana's haunted apartment in the original "Ghostbusters."
'THE SANTA CLAUSE'
This Tim Allen vehicle about a man who becomes Santa after killing the previous incarnation accidentally (it's more kid-friendly than it sounds) was filmed mostly in Canada, particularly in the Toronto suburb of Oakville, which still has many of the same stores seen in the film. There's also a scene at the Toronto Zoo.
The lonesome Los Angeles skyscraper John McClane saves from money-grubbing European terrorists in "Die Hard" isn't actually called Nakatomi Plaza — it's the Fox Plaza in Century City, used as 20th Century Fox's official headquarters.
'ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS'
This seasonally appropriate entry in the "Ernest" film series starring Jim Varney was actually the first major feature filmed almost entirely in Orlando, Florida. Besides the then-unfinished Disney-MGM backlot, locations around the city include the airport, the Amtrak station, and the Orlando Science Center, used in the movie as the "Orlando Children's Museum."
'JINGLE ALL THE WAY'
At the time it was filmed, this Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle was the largest production ever to take place in Minnesota. Viewers familiar with the area will be able to spot locations in the Bloomington Mall of America, downtown Minneapolis, and especially downtown St. Paul throughout — most notably Mickey's Diner, a landmark 24-hour eatery a few blocks from the Mississippi.
'MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET' (1947)
This heartwarming Hollywood relic about a court case to prove Santa Claus is real features one scene shot at the real Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1946. The holiday shopping scenes take place, fittingly enough, at Macy's itself on 34th Street in Manhattan, while the courtroom ones were filmed at the New York County Courthouse, later employed in "The Godfather" and "12 Angry Men."
'MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET' (1994)
The 1990s John Hughes-produced remake of "Miracle on 34th Street" was still set in the Big Apple (and also during the Macy's Day parade) but filmed mostly in Chicago. The old State of Illinois Building on North LaSalle Street stands in for department store C.F. Cole's, and Lincoln Park Zoo for the Central Park Zoo. The neighboring Thompson Center, a modern government building, was used for the home of Cole's rival, Shopper's Express.
This star-packed seasonal rom-com from 2003 is also packed with charming London locations, including the department stores Whiteley's and St. Christopher's Place, where characters do their holiday shopping, and Heathrow Airport, which provided the opening montage of tearful reunions. A devoted fan could spend an entire vacation visiting the other London landmarks feature, including Queen's Walk on the River Thames.
The Griswolds' snow-covered home in "Christmas Vacation" is on a studio backlot, but the film's exterior city shots come mostly from Chicago — Clark's office with the giant tree at the base, for example, is at 69 W. Washington St., and he flirts during his holiday shopping a couple blocks over at State Street.
This decidedly dark comedy set in a small town at Christmastime doesn't actually take place in a town at all, but on a Universal Studios set called Courthouse Square, featured on their Los Angeles studio tour and most famously used as Hill Valley in the "Back to the Future" series. In "Gremlins," the main character works in a bank that also served as a coffeeshop in 1955 Hill Valley.
"Bad Santa" shows an alcoholic con-man living a green Christmas in Miami Beach, though filming was mostly in Long Beach, California. Billy Bob Thornton's Willie T. Soke drinks at O'Hara's Pub in Venice and the Mayan Bar & Grill in Monrovia, watches girls playing volleyball at Harbor Plaza near the Queen Mary, and sleeps at the El Capitan Motel on Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach.