TV Show Location to Travel By

It seems that every tourism agency is getting on the bandwagon whether they have one TV show location or many movie locations. They offer tie-ins, tours, and websites.  So here are some of the TV show locations that lure me to want to travel. See more of my picks at Reel Life With Jane.


TV Show Location: Albuquerque
Albuquerque, Sandia Mountain. Photo by Dan Hinojosa

TV Show Location: Albuquerque, NM

Shows: In Plain Sight; Breaking Bad

I was a great fan of In Plain Sight, which, sadly, is no more. For its first seasons, it operated the way most TV shows do that pretend to be somewhere other than a Hollywood sound stage.  They used establishing shots of New Mexico at the beginning of the show and occasionally the cast would drive on a highway that might have been in New Mexico.  However, in the last season, they got serious about showing Albuquerque. You could see downtown areas, old adobe neighborhoods, and Sandia Peak surrounded by colorful desert.  I felt its portrayal of Albuquerque was spot on, once they started using real locations.

TV Show Location: Albuquerque
Bathing Bad Bath Salts

The show Breaking Bad (which is also going away after this season, but no doubt will live on in DVD) may not glorify New Mexico but it sure makes for good business. From slum tours to bright blue rock candy made to resemble meth and Bathing Bad bath salts, Albuquerque businesses are cashing in on the popularity of Breaking Bad, according to an NPR story.  In truth, the TV show mostly takes place in dim, grungy interiors, but from time to time, the school teacher turned criminal has to get away and heads into the barren New Mexico desert. See more about Albuquerque and Breaking Bad in this story by Jane Boursaw, our movie travel expert.

As a southwesterner, I find that desert attractive and fascinating, but I’m not sure about the attraction to people in the East. Call me a wimp, but I prefer the Albuquerque of the Tamaya Hotel promoted by the American Girl doll Saige.



Burn Notice
Miami Florida, by Bob B. Brown

TV Show Location: Miami

TV Show: Burn Notice

Another of my favorite shows that is biting the dust soon.  Burn Notice, set principally in Miami, has wandered into other places–but all tropical and similar–Mexico, Dominican Republic and other islands. This show has Mike, a steely jawed former CIA agent and his two male buddies and one tough broad who earned her stripes with the IRA. Although you can almost count on something blowing up in every episode, there’s a lot more than just an action film going on here. Some might watch it to see what outrageous fashion statement Fiona (the tough broad) will be wearing with her latest machine gun. Some might watch it for the nostalgia of seeing Cagney and Lacey veteran actress  Sharon Gless chain smoking. Some might watch it for the humor of Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), the sidekick with FBI ties.

However, if you’re a traveler, you want to know where to go to see some of those enticing scenes. Where are all those beautiful babes hanging around a luxury hotel pool? Where do you get the MaiTai? Where are the colorful buildings you see on the skyline?  Here’s a website that lays out all the Burn Notice TV locations, season by season, show by show, street by street.  If you want a more to-the-point-where-do-I buy-a-fancy-drink way, check this website which is all about locations of movies and TV Shows.

TV Show Location: Hawaii

TV Show: Hawaii Five-O

TV Show Location: Waikiki from Diamond Head
Waikiki from Diamond Head

I strongly prefer shows that actually shoot IN a location, like Burn Notice, which has a studio right in Miami, to those that just use establishing shots at the beginning of the show. But hands down, the newer Hawaii Five-O–which both shoots scenes on site and does an opening shot– wins BEST ESTABLISHING SHOT for their aerial swoop over Oahu.  The team of cops go out on jungle-clogged mountainsides, as well as using Oahu police headquarters and Wakiki beach. Here’s a fan site with a guide to some locations. Since like Burn Notice, Hawaii Five-O has a studio at the location, everything is filmed right in Hawaii, with plenty of outdoor locations. You can find tours to take you around if you don’t want to follow the script yourself.

Even if you don’t like cop shows, take a look at that opening shot and you’ll be booking our airline ticket to Oahu!

TV Show Location: Doc Martin
That little house on the hill plays Doc Martin’s office. Photo By Dan Tanner

TV Show Location: Cornwall, England

TV Show: Doc Martin

If you haven’t heard of Doc Martin, you might want to do some digging.  It is a British TV show, available on Hulu if it is not scheduled on your local PBS station. It is a country doctor comedy about a prickly London physician, played sourly by putty-faced Martin Clunes, who moves to a tiny seaside town in Cornwall to set up a practice. It takes some doing for him to be accepted by the locals, and he doesn’t do a very good job of accepting their “foreign” ways.

But I am totally gob-struck by the charming little town and the gorgeous seaside of this piece of England.  I had not thought much about Cornwall until I reviewed a set of British travel show DVDs about the region. I fell in love with the dramatic coast and folksy culture. So while Doc Martin might not be my favorite TV show in the world, I love, love, love to watch it just for the trip to Cornwall. And here you can see a few shots of the TV Show locations that might also lure you to a TV show location in Cornwall.

By the way the photographer notes that the people who own that little house have put up a sign saying they are fed up with people peering in their windows. The house is used for exterior shots only.  So if you go to Port Isaac, which stands in for the town Portwenn in the script, beware. The residents put up quite a fuss about the filming a few years ago! A warning to you when you visit the locations of favorite TV shows and movies.

I know I’ve opened a Pandora’s box by listing so few TV show locations that inspire travel. So please join the conversation, and tell me what your favorites are. See more TV show locations that inspire me to want to travel over at Reel Life With Jane.

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

9 thoughts on “TV Show Location to Travel By

  1. Good post 🙂

    There used to be an app i had on my phone that would tell you if locations were nearby by using your GPS. I remember I used to live right near a spot where they filmed ‘Attack of the Killer Tomatoes’… not the most exciting thing, I know.

    San Diego has a lot of wonderful locations. The Hotel Del is one of my favorites. ‘Some Like It Hot’ was shot there… awesome place!

    I’m and shot a movie, ‘Gods and Generals’, on location in VA and Maryland. Best time ever.

  2. I can see how filming locations would be both a blessing and a curse. I can’t imagine having to fend off people wanting to look in my window! But I guess the tourism aspect is good.

  3. All shows I love! The desert scenes in Breaking Bad always made me wonder if they were really THAT desolate. Are they? And Doc Martin is available for streaming (free) on Amazon and also Netflix (I think…) Great show.

  4. I wasn’t familiar with Doc Martin, but my oldest daughter used to watch the series after school, so when we were in Cornwall a few years ago, she insisted we visit Pt Isaac. It’s now one of our favourite places anywhere. Naturally, I had to see the series after that, and I really like the grumpy doctor and all the quirky personalities in Portwenn. Best of all, though, is seeing the town and the gorgeous surrounding landscape again and again.

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