Since the first stories were told by nomadic tribes sitting around campfires to either pass the time or teach important moral lessons to the young ones, all kinds of imagined worlds have been created that still resonate with us today in various forms of media including books TV shows and movies. While a majority of these fictional locations have deep mythological roots, a few of them come from the minds of creative geniuses that took aspects of our real world and different mythologies in order to create something that’s relatively original. Some examples include Middle Earth, which borrows heavily from Norse mythology and epic sagas like Beowulf.
Yet the way it utilizes these elements is unique, with even a few new creations like Orcs that have appeared in other works since. Though depending on how much this fictional world resonates with us on a personal level, or is remotely believable despite the fantastic elements in it, this can cause some of us to fantasize the notion of actually being in that world. The ones highlighted in this article, for instance, are considerably the most popular places that have resonated with people at different points in their life to the point where they want to be there. Plus, there are a few that are real!
25 Fictional - Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
For those of us who grew up reading the Harry Potter books and seeing the movies, it has been a collective fantasy of ours to receive a letter by owl with the chance to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Considered to be one of the safest places in the Wizarding World (except for the times when it wasn’t), it’s a place of learning where children learn how to practice magic in several forms including potions and spells. It’s even possible to interact with magical creatures and enchanted plants, as well as have all kinds of magical adventures.
24 Fictional - Gotham City
Now this certainly wouldn’t be a great place to live in, given the rampant amount of crime that’s committed here compared to any other city in the DC Universe of comic-books and other related media, its appeal comes from its association with a certain character. Namely, Batman (or the Dark Knight as he’s sometimes called) who protects this city along with a variety of memorable sidekicks and allies. Plus, many of DC’s greatest villains reside here such as The Joker and anti-heroes like Harley Quinn whose fame has skyrocketed in recent years. So maybe it’s worth going here.
23 Real - The Flintstones' House
While everyone knows the Flintstones from their cartoons and commercials, their house is just as memorable in terms of design. Made completely out of rocks, it somehow manages to have working electricity and conditioning like a modern house which the show never really explained but we didn’t really care because it looked cool (at the time). But then a famous television personality named Dick Clark decided to build a house that looks just like the Flintstones’ abode in Malibu, California. Costing “3.5 Million US$ to build,” as stated by Thrillophilia, it’s one of the most popular houses in that area.
22 Fictional - Middle Earth
From the Shire to Rivendell to Minas Tirith, it’s hard to pick one place that would be preferable to go to in the realm of Middle Earth because they’re all so cool with something for everyone. For instance, the Shire would be a great place to go to for a relaxing carefree lifestyle which is practiced by the Hobbits who occupy it. Rivendell is also relaxing too, but in the healing sense as it has given travelers a brief refuge before they embark on a long and perilous journey. Then finally, the amazing architecture of Minas Tirith speaks for itself.
21 Fictional - Pandora
Ever since it appeared onscreen in the blockbuster phenomena known as Avatar, the tropical moon of Pandora which the Na’vi call their home has captured so many people’s imaginations to the point where a literal theme park based on it was built in Disney’s Animal Kingdom not too long ago. Yet no matter what the theme park offers, it could never replace the real thing which may lie somewhere across the galaxy (assuming there really is life on other planets). With floating mountains, bioluminescent plants, and many strange creatures, it’s got a lot of appeal despite its potentially hostile natives.
20 Real - Paradise Falls
From the beloved movie Up, this was the place that Carl and his wife dreamed of settling their house at. But what’s even cooler is that Paradise Falls is based on a real place. Known as Angel Falls, it is located in Venezuela according to Thrillophilia and looks just like its movie counterpart. While there’s probably not an eccentric explorer living at the top of this waterfall with an army of talking dogs, the person whom the falls are named after was a pilot from America who attempted to land his plane there and failed (though he came out unscathed).
19 Fictional - Asgard
Though it may have been lost following the events of Thor: Ragnarok, the splendor of this place is still memorable as it’s one of the most visually creative places in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Home to the Norse Gods, including Thor and Loki, it is only accessible via the rainbow-colored Bifrost Bridge. This, in turn, is constantly watched by the guardian Heimdall, who literally sees everything despite the few times he was blind to an approaching threat. With impressive architecture and a generous (though not always great) ruler in the form of Odin, who wouldn’t want to live here?
18 Fictional - Jurassic Park
Even though the movies go out of their way to demonstrate why this place would never work in real life, what child wouldn’t like to go to a place full of living dinosaurs that can be seen and interacted with? Sure, the science behind the cloning of these things is dubious and the way the dinosaurs are portrayed isn’t always scientifically accurate but it’s a fun concept. With that said, it is hard to ignore the fact that some of the dinosaurs like the T-Rex are incredibly dangerous and can be harmful to humans if they’re not contained properly.
17 Fictional - Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory
No matter the age, sweets are a guilty choice of food that everyone likes to indulge in every once in a while. This is especially true with children, whose addiction to sweet things has caused sickness in the stomach from eating too many or trips to the dentist for damaged teeth. But regardless of the consequences, a place like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, which offers a wide variety of strange and colorful rooms full of different candies, is charismatically appealing to anyone like its owner. Yet one must keep in mind the lack of safety measures and frequently disappearing guests.
16 Real - Tatooine
Though Star Wars may exist in a galaxy far away, some places may be a lot closer in terms of visiting. Tatooine, for instance, which was the home of Luke and his father Anakin before him is actually based on the city of Tataouine in Tunisia. Plus, many scenes of the desert planet were filmed here as well as in some neighboring areas including the partially subterranean Sidi Driss Hotel. This, according to Thrillophilia, served as the exterior for the water farm Luke grew up at with his aunt and uncle. Thus, it has become a popular attraction for tourists.
15 Fictional - King’s Landing
Being the capital city for the Seven Kingdoms in the land of Westeros, it is expectedly beautiful due to its location along the coast of Blackwater Bay. Plus, its climate is pleasantly warm due to being in one of the southern parts of Westeros (which is generally in at state of perpetual summer until recently in the Game of Thrones TV show). Yet “The beauty of the land hides the dangers from an onlooker” according to ScoopWhoop. In other words, this place also has its problems. Namely, overpopulation and constant riots as rulers come and go on the Iron Throne.
14 Fictional - The Emerald City
As a whole, the Land of Oz has a lot of fantastic places that would be pretty neat to visit as well as a few less pleasant areas. But by far, the prettiest locale has got to be the Emerald City. Accessed by the Yellow Brick Road, it stands out like a shining beacon with an iconic design that comes from The Wizard of Oz film from the 1930s (though Oz the Great and Powerful certainly tried to replicate it as the above screenshot shows). Plus, the inside is just as amazing with jovial people around and the titular wizard himself.
13 Fictional - Pemberley
While it’s not one of the most fantastic places that are highlighted in this article, it is certainly something that fans of the Victorian British author Jane Austen would love to be real. After all, this is the estate owned by Mr. Darcy, the love-interest of Elizabeth who is the lead heroine of the book Pride and Prejudice. Now among the various books that Austen wrote, this one has had several movie and TV show adaptations over the years including a recent one involving zombies (though that was technically based on a different work which borrowed elements from Austen’s writings).
12 Fictional - The Gatsby Mansion
In contrast to Pemberley House which is refined and classy, Jay Gatsby’s mansion is vibrant and wild with parties being thrown every night. Now that may seem annoying for those who don’t like parties, that’s just the way things were back in the 20s when The Great Gatsby takes place. A classic tale of hubris and enduring love, this book has become quite popular through its film adaptations though especially the recent version starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the titular character. Because of his charismatic charm, and the film’s poppy soundtrack, it certainly makes this mansion worth checking out at least.
11 Fictional - Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters
For those who’ve ever felt different or were shunned by society for various reasons, the X-Men are their heroes and representatives. Of course, one doesn’t have to be different in order to enjoy the notion that certain individuals with special powers get the chance to attend an academy where they not only learn how to harness their abilities but also help others as costumed superheroes no matter what society thinks of them. It’s a fantasy that’s relatable to anyone, which has been further popularized by the various X-Men cartoons and movies that have come out in recent years.
10 Fictional - Lilliput
Though it started out as a satire, Gulliver’s Travels is now regarded as an English literary classic that inspired a popular TV mini-series and several movies including one that starred Jack Black as the titular character (as shown above). But among the many fantastic realms that Gulliver explores, the most widely recognized one is Lilliput. Home to a race of small humans that are constantly at war with another nation of small people, Gulliver’s arrival could not have come at a better time. So who wouldn’t want to go there and be worshipped like a literal God?
9 Fictional - Neverland
When we’re children, the idea of growing up sounds foreign and not something to look forward to because it would mean change as well as taking on new responsibilities. Even as adults, we wish we could go back to being kids again and not have to worry about anything. For reasons such as this, Neverland has been an enduring concept that has lasted for centuries. Popularized by various adaptations of Peter Pan, though especially the Disney version, it's a place where no one ages. Instead, one can have many adventures whether it involves fighting pirates, visiting mermaids or seeing pixies.
8 Fictional - Narnia
For every child who read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, or saw one of the movie adaptations, they never saw a wardrobe the same way again. Admit it! We all fantasized about walking into our closets and discovering an entire realm full of magical creatures just as Lucy did. Of course, the Narnia she found was a winter nightmare taken over by the White Witch until Narnia’s true ruler Aslan came back and restored the realm to its true beauty. Still, it seems like a place worth checking out whether it’s covered in snow or greenery.
7 Real - Silent Hill
Based on the popular horror video game series of the same name, the Silent Hill movie is set around a small creepy town that’s always covered in fog where the residents are not what they seem as dangerous creatures also prowl the area. But what’s even more frightening than the fictional town itself is the real one that inspired it. Known as Centralia, Pennsylvania, its residents were forced to evacuate “After the strip mine beneath the city caught fire” according to Thrillophilia. Even now, smoke pours from sinkholes and cracks in the paved roads as the fire beneath still burns.
6 Real - The Hundred Acre Wood
As young children, we were all exposed to Winnie the Pooh books and movies. There was even a cartoon series that ran on the air for a time which expanded upon the adventures that Pooh and his friends had in the Hundred Acre Wood. Now what most people may not know is that the human character of Christopher Robin was actually based on the author’s son, and the Hundred Acre Wood was a real place that he explored as a child. Officially known as the Five Hundred Acre Wood, this is an area located in the Ashdown Forest within England.
5 Real - The Temple of the Sun
For those who know the Indiana Jones movies well, this structure might seem familiar. That’s because it is the Temple of the Sun, where the long-sought Holy Grail was eventually found in the third film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Ironically enough, this is also a real structure that exists in the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. Specifically known as Al Khazneh, it is said to house “A theater, a monastery, and numerous tombs” as stated by Thrillophilia. Though like many sites within Petra, it is currently being excavated by archeologists who’ve been uncovering several underground lairs.
4 Real - Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
When one thinks about a castle belonging to a princess, they usually picture something like this. Now arguably, this image got burned into our brains at a young age when we saw Disney movies like the original Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty which used the same relative design for their castles. Plus, Disney knows how memorable this type of castle is. Hence, they created a replica of it at the theme parks and use it as their logo for every feature film. But, Thrillophilia claims that Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria (as shown above) was “The major inspiration” for Disney’s distinct castle.
3 Real - South Park
Despite how one feels about its sense of humor, South Park is undeniably one of the most popular animated shows to come out in recent decades next to The Simpsons and Family Guy. But what’s more interesting than the show is that the setting is based on a real place in Colorado. Though it’s been labeled as “South Park” in a lot of official documents from the past, its real name is Fairplay which has a much smaller population than its fictional counterpart. It’s also more rural in terms of culture, as it is primarily known for Burro/Donkey Racing.
2 Real - Springfield
Given how many seasons it has, it’s amazing that The Simpsons has endured for so long. Apart from the family itself, the other aspect that defines this show is its location: Springfield. Both ordinary and unpredictable, it is just as relatable of a place as it is desired. Though funny enough, there is a real city called Springfield in Massachusetts (as shown in the above picture) which is actually one of many cities in the United States with the same name. But what makes this one particularly special is that it was the hometown of one of the show’s creators.
1 Real - Arendelle
Like Cinderella and Aurora’s castle, the Kingdom of Arendelle from Frozen also has a real-life counterpart according to Thrillophilia which is pictured in the above image. Though it doesn’t seem familiar, it’ll probably spark a memory or two once it’s covered in snow. Known as Nærøyfjord (which is pronounced Nar-E-Fyord), it is located along the coast of Norway and has impressive fjords that live up to its name. Plus, there are a couple of villages located here called Gudvangen and Bakka which tourists often flock to when they’re traveling through this area either by boat or car.
Resources: scoopwhoop.com, thrillophilia.com