If you're obsessed with Stranger Things, it might crush you to know that Hawkins, Indiana isn't actually a real place. It's a fictional town invented by the series creators the Duffer Brothers to serve as the perfect setting for their sci-fi/horror/coming-of-age story. But of course, the show has to find its Midwestern-looking locations somewhere. So where is Stranger Things filmed? Spoilers for Season 2 ahead.
The original plan was for Stranger Things to be set in a coastal town. According to Variety, the initial title for the show was Montauk, and the story was set around the disappearance of a boy in Montuak, Long Island. But Ross Duffer revealed to AV Club that this plan became increasingly improbable to execute. He said:
"We were excited about the idea of doing something coastal. Probably our favorite movie of all time is Jaws, and Montauk is one of the bases for Amity, so I think that’s where that idea came from. Logistically, it became more necessary for production reasons to set this not in a coastal town."
So instead, the story moved to the fictional Midwestern town of Hawkins, and production shifted mainly to Georgia for filming. Architectural Digest reported that most of the exterior shots in Stranger Things are filmed in Atlanta and Jackson, Georgia. And a lot of the show's most infamous locations are places that you can actually visit in real life.
Take, for example, the Hawkins Lab. The site of Eleven's abuse, the gate to the Upside Down, and location of Bob's tragic death (#JusticeForBob) is actually part of Emory University. According to the same Architectural Digest piece, the exterior of the lab was the home to the former Georgia Mental Health Institute, and now exists as part of Emory's Briarcliff Campus.
The quarry, which is one of the most important locations of Season 1, is actually Atlanta's Bellwood Quarry, according to Deep South Magazine. The location has been featured on the big screen more than once, as it was also featured in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Vampire Diaries, and The Walking Dead. It seems like this stunning location is a lightening rod for creepy, apocalyptic movies and shows.
The school where all the kids attend is actually filmed in a real high school! According to Architectural Digest, Patrick Henry High School in Stockbridge, Georgia, was the location for the middle school and high school in Hawkins. Long live the AV club.
The arcade, which plays such a key part in bringing the boys together with Mad Max, is also a location you can go visit in real life. The Duffer Brothers revealed on an episode of Beyond Stranger Things that the arcade had actually been an old laundromat that the production team revamped into a rad 80s arcade. The building is in downtown Douglasville, Georgia, and was up for auction in March of this year, according to the Douglas County Sentinel.
If you're really itching to feel like you're right in the middle of Hawkins, head to Jackson, Georgia. According to Jackson Progress-Argus, Jackson Square was given an '80s look in order to become Hawkins, Indiana. And the library where Dustin heads to find out what the heck his baby demogorgon is, is actually the Jackson Butts County Probate Court, per Vanity Fair.
According to Instyle, the shots of the kids in the woods, including the incredible scene between Dustin and Steve Harrington on the train tracks in Season 2 (Farrah Fawcett hairspray is cool, you guys) were filmed in Georgia's Stone Mountain Park. Whether you're going because you're a Stranger Things superfan or because you just enjoy a nice hike, the park looks like a beautiful place to spend a few hours.
So though Hawkins is an invention, you actually can make a Stranger Things pilgrimage. If you take your next vacation to Jackson, Georgia, you might feel like you're steps away from the Upside Down.