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For many of us, vacations are a way to create temporary adventures that take us out of our normal existence to a new and sometimes exotic locale. Movies do much the same thing for us where the setting can become an equal or greater character in the story. Movie vacations allow us to not only experience beautiful settings but also to walk, bike or ride through the real life settings of our favorite movies. Here are just a few of the best film and TV tours around the world that are possibilities when it comes to awesome movie vacations.

Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit

The Lord of the Rings trilogy was among the first glimpse that many people got of the beauty of New Zealand as it played the backdrop for the fantasy world of Middle Earth.

New Zealand’s stunning natural landscapes were the setting for many of the major set pieces such as Hobbiton, Edoras, Rivendell, Helm’s Deep, Minas Tirith, and Isengard. With several options for Lord of the Rings and Hobbiton Tours in New Zealand, this New Zealand tourism website is a good place to start to make some decisions on where to go.

Harry Potter

Few movie franchises have mixed the real settings of the UK with fantasy as well as the Harry Potter Series. This enduring set of films, which enthralled children and adults alike, has been complimented by a variety of real movie setting experiences in London as well as the U.S.

From visiting some of the places where the Harry Potter films were created via Harry Potter Studio Tour and Harry Potter walking tours in London to multi-day tours of Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland, you get to see popular tourists’ destinations from a more magical perspective. This Visit Britain website can provide some great ideas as well as potential costs structures while world traveler Rick Steves provides a more focused look on Harry Potter sites.

Downton Abbey

While you’re across the pond, you can expand your movie vacation to encompass one of the most captivating television series’ going with PBS’s “Downton Abbey.” Anyone in love with the adventures and misadventures of the beleaguered Crawley family will love to walk in their fictitious footsteps at the spectacular Highclere Castle which is the stand-in for the fictitious Downton Abbey.

Highclere has been a family home for hundreds of years with a real-life Earl and his family living in the castle in the present day. A tour of Downton Abbey film locations that takes you from Highclere Castle to the Oxfordshire village of Bampton where other scenes from “Downton Abbey” are filmed as well as other wonderful locations throughout the area.

Hawaii TV & Movie Sites

As winter approaches, many people are looking to Hawaii for a dose of tropical splendor. In addition to being one of the world’s most popular destinations, the Hawaiian Islands have been the location for countless movies and TV series over the years. You can incorporate many of the most beautiful sites on the islands as they have doubled for locations for many blockbusters.

On the island of Kauai there are movie site tours that include locations for “Jurassic Park,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Amazing Race,” and “Tropic Thunder.” Visit the island of Oahu for additional filming locations for “Jurassic Park,” “50 First Dates,” “Karate Kid II,” and “Godzilla.” For those that were enthralled with television shows like “Hawaii Five-0” and “Lost,” the island has a few surprises for you as well. You can’t beat the mountain biking tour of Kaaawa Valley that takes you through some of the other filming locations for “Lost,” “Jurassic Park” and “Godzilla.”

Chicago Movie Tour

Domestically, Chicago will always be a major tourist destination for everything from shopping and world-class events to the arts and architecture. The “City of the Big Shoulders” is home to some of the country’s most iconic architecture, which has also been featured in many popular movies.

A long standing Chicago Movie Tour takes you to dozens of filming locations that are also some of the city’s main attractions. You’ll see filming locations for movies like “The Dark Knight,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Blues Brothers,” “The Untouchables,” “Transformers 3,” and many more that will take you through man of the city’s neighborhoods and enclaves.

This list only represents a small percentage of the many fantastic places that provide one-of-a-kind movie vacations. Even if you are not a ‘bigtime movie buff ‘that plans their vacation around movies, wherever you plan to go likely has a number of movie locations that are also some of the most sought-after destination spots around the world. Next time you begin planning your vacation, just check out the Movie Map website to see what your proposed destination has in store as a big screen backdrop.