It’s the beginning of 2019, and thanks to a widely released teaser trailer for the third season of Stranger Things, no one can wait to head back to the upside down in Hawkins, Indiana. This show has so much hype that a trailer released more than six months before the season drops on Netflix has everyone talking, and potentially re-watching the series.
It’s no wonder everyone is talking. Fan numbers told us that around 8.8 million people watched at least some of Stranger Things 2 in the first three days after it launched on Netflix, with 361,000 binge watchers taking in all nine episodes within the first 24 hours following the release.
One of the charms of Stranger Things is the way it takes us back in time, to the 1980’s, in what was a presumably simpler time, right into the intimidating childhoods of its main characters. As a show that takes us both to a different time period, and to different dimensions of the upside down, it’s no wonder those creating the series want to help keep the mystery of Hawkins, Indiana alive.
Luckily for fans, we’ve compiled a lot of research on Stranger Things’ shooting locations, setting, and fun trivia facts that can help you plan your next fan-focused road trip or just know a little bit more about what was involved with creating this unusual and creepy universe.
25 Hawkins, Indiana Is Really Atlanta, Georgia
First things first, Hawkins, Indiana isn’t a real place, it’s a fictional one created in the minds of the now famous Duffer Brothers. While you can’t visit Hawkins, Indiana, you can visit Atlanta, Georgia, where most of the show is filmed, but because of how sets need to be altered to provide the ‘blast from the past’ feel, you may not recognize everything at first glance.
If you find that the area looks familiar, perhaps this is because both The Vampire Diaries and The Walking Dead are filmed in Georgia, which has become quite the hub for some fantastic series.
24 A Scorching Hot Halloween
Since the show is so popular, and based on kids who are quickly growing up, there is a pretty ambitious shooting schedule in place to make sure no one outgrows their role. Even though the Duffer Brothers have said no to the fast-tracking of the series, both having turned down the opportunity to shoot season three and four back to back, there is still a strict timeline in effect.
This means not necessarily waiting for the time of year in the story to match up with the timing of shooting. For season two, a balmy ‘Indiana’ Halloween, was a rather hot shooting session as Georgia weather doesn’t exactly line-up with that in the real Indiana.
23 The Famous Movie Quarry
If the Quarry from season one of Stranger Things looks familiar, that’s probably because it really is. Bellwood Quarry has also been featured in The Walking Dead, and The Hunger Games Trilogy. This old quarry was shut down in 2007 and became a hangout for teens as well as movie and TV shooting locations.
Today they are working to construct a new reservoir and park for the public, however, if fans want to come and see it, they shouldn’t because the area is closed to the public with warnings posted that trespassers will be arrested.
22 Low Population Means Fewer Fanboys
Because of the rural settings of many scenes of Stranger Things, paired with shooting times that are often in the evening and into the night, it can be easier to shoot scenes without people even knowing what’s filming around the corner from their home. Some production companies will even use alias names to help keep the anonymity of what they’re filming.
Because plotlines don’t just revolve around one character, or one area of Atlanta, it’s a lot easier to keep fans guessing, and away from the set.
21 The Painted Arcade
A favourite place for fans to visit with their cellphones, ready to get some Instagram worthy photos is the spot that was transformed into the arcade for season 2 as a spot-on replica of 1980’s style arcades. Located at 6501 Church Street, in Douglasville, Georgia, as recently as this summer the building was still painted up to look like the arcade, so it’s a fun place to pose.
Who knows whether it remained painted so it could make a reprisal for season 3, only time will tell!
20 Where To Buy Eggos Like Eleven
Back in season one of Stranger Things, Eleven decides that she needs to fill her craving for Eggos, and in turn pays a visit to Bradley’s Big Buy (which is disguised as a 1980’s Piggly Wiggly Express).
While at the store she acquires several packages of the breakfast food via five finger discount and does some damage to the store thanks to her less than usual abilities. Anyone who wants to pick up the Eleven special (although please pay for your purchases) can visit Palmetto, Georgia’s grocer to get a photo op in the frozen food section.
19 Travelling Outside Hawkins, Indiana
Keeping to their code of silence before the release of a season, Matt Duffer was pleased to tell Entertainment Weekly that the storyline for season two took place outside of the usual stomping grounds - “I will say the opening scene [of the premiere] does not take place in Hawkins.”
It’s hard to know where the Duffer Brothers will take the series next for season two but reported in the same interview that they were both excited to further explore the depths of the Upside Down, which means filming could occur literally anywhere.
18 Shopping Mall Trip Back In Time For Season 3
We’ve seen very little from the trailers for season 3, however, we do know that Steve works at the local mall, where at least some of the season is filmed. Fans who went to check it out for themselves this summer discovered that ‘Starcourt Mall’ known in the real world as Gwinnett Place Mall, 2100 Pleasant Hill Rd., Duluth, Georgia had a portion of it closed off with tall black cloth walls to provide some privacy.
Shoppers and fans alike didn’t get to see cast members working, but they could get a small peak at some of the 1980’s themed storefronts.
17 It Was Originally Set In Long Island
Before it was given the name we know it for, Stranger Things was originally titled “Montauk”, named after Montauk, New Jersey, and inspired by the Duffer Brothers’ love for the film Jaws, also set in the same area.
Matt Duffer said, "It was originally set in Montauk. Jaws was our favorite movie of all time, so we liked the sort of coastal setting that that allowed, and for production reasons it started to look more and more unfeasible.”
Most of the reason for this change of venue had to do with filming restrictions in New Jersey during the winter.
16 Ice From Florida For End Of Season Snow
The first season of Stranger Things takes place in late autumn to early winter in Hawkins, Indiana, but it was filmed in the spring in Atlanta, which is easy enough to mask with the right filters and outdoor filming locations that aren’t budding up flowers.
In order to truly create the winter wonderland magic of December in the Northern US, producers needed to ship in the cold weather to make it look believable. In order to make the Christmas scene work, 20 tonnes of ice were brought in from Florida to provide the cold weather feel necessary.
15 Movie Theatre Or Furniture Store?
To keep the series feeling like an authentic throwback in time, the devil is in the details. Things involving pop culture when it comes to everything from the décor in someone’s room to the movies playing on the marquee at the local cinema are all really important pieces of what makes the show work.
The Hawkins Theatre exteriors aren’t a theatre at all. Located at the corner of 2nd and North Oak Street in Jackson, Georgia this furniture store is transformed into a 1980’s theatre.
14 The Real Cast Halloween
Something that fans and critics alike keep on forgetting is that the stars of this series are just kids. Being famous can put a serious dent in your privacy, whether you’re an adult, or still in school.
Thankfully occasions like Halloween allowed the cast of Stranger Things to head out for Halloween together, with no one recognizing them, even if they were trick or treating really close to where they were filming, and even if one of them decides to dress up as a fellow Stranger Things cast member.
13 Setting Inspired By The Montauk Project
In addition to a love of Jaws, there was an experiment said to have occurred in the 1980’s in Long Island involving experiments. An article from Thrillist says, “Eleven and the Demogorgon may have opened the portal to the Upside Down, has roots in an incident that conspiracy theorists believe occurred in Montauk in 1983, and ended secret experiments...”
Conspiracists confirm that evil scientists like those played by Matthew Modine aren’t as fictional as we’re led to believe.
12 The Trail To The Train Tracks
To visit the woods and train tracks is easy to do, in fact, it was a tourist destination before cameras rolled on Stranger Things.
Stone Mountain Park, 5536 E Mountain St, in Stone Mountain, GA is a park with a $15 entrance fee. To check out the train tracks you can visit behind the buildings with the washrooms, behind the parking lot. Want to pack an authentic picnic?
Consider bringing some beef jerky and watermelon to mimic the fake raw meat laid down in season two to help attract Dart and his Upside-Down pals.
11 Moving To Maine A Nod To A Master Of Horror
The Duffer brothers were never afraid to pay tribute to the films that inspired them. After being turned down for remaking Stephen King’s, It, they made many homages to his work.
Sean Astin’s character Bob wanting to move to Maine was a complete hat tilt to the king of horror. Although Matt Duffer wanted to make it known that character Bob, “definitely does not read Stephen King… he hates that kind of story.“
In another Stephen King coincidence, King Tweeted his appreciation for Millie Bobby Brown’s acting talents long before she was cast as Eleven saying, “Millie Brown, the girl in Intruders, is terrific. Is it my imagination, or are child actors a lot better than they used to be?”
10 Big Costs At Hawkins Lab
One of the costliest scenes of season one was when Eleven used her powers to flip a van of Hawkins Lab Scientists. The Duffers reported that the first shot of the film (with the kid’s reactions) went well, as did the test, but when they filmed the explosives, they didn’t detonate and the van shot right into the cameras, destroying one camera and several lenses, costing the crew thousands of dollars. Thankfully the second take nailed it.
Fans can visit the scene of the van flip at, 3782 Sarah’s Lane, in Tucker, GA, but don’t trespass on anyone’s property. One blogger who visited the area noted that a neighbour saw them checking out the area and showed them footage of the scene that he’d gotten on his cell phone.
9 High School In Hawkins
Patrick Henry High School, located in Stockbridge, Georgia was used for both the High School and Middle School scenes filming, with no one watching being any the wiser. The school itself is no longer in use for matriculation, having closed in 2015 because of issues with mold, however, it did have one final use, to be the backdrop for many of the young students of Hawkins.
Former students of Patrick Henry High School now attend Excel Academy. There’s no word as to whether or not other scenes will be filmed at other schools in the area.
8 Fake School Vs. Real School On Set
Some characters rarely interact on screen, but that doesn’t mean that the cast doesn’t get to know one another when they aren’t filming. The entire cast boasts hanging out together when they aren’t working and supports each other in scenes they don’t share.
Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin on Stranger Things, told CNN that they all go to school together so even when Eleven was doing all her scenes in the cabin with Hopper in season two, many of the similar-aged actors were completing pre-algebra together.
7 So Much Salt For The Floating Scene
In the end of the first season of Stranger Things, Eleven saves the day via a sensory deprivation tank. When the kids built their own tank there was virtually no difference between what they built compared to what was recommended by the AV club’s favourite teacher.
The Duffer Brothers told EW, “We followed Mr. Clarke’s instructions to a tee: Over 1,200 pounds of Epsom salt were dissolved into the kiddie pool." Sometimes simple makes for the best results, even if you’re buying Epsom by the truckload.
6 The Lab Was Once A Mental Health Institute
What appears to be an intimidating laboratory, pushing science to other dimensions is actually a research facility at Emory University on their Briarcliff Campus. At one time this building was a mental health institute, but now it’s available to those who want to use it.
Located at 1256 Briarcliff Road in Atlanta, the school openly advertises renting out their empty building, which was erected in the 1960s. Film crews can use it to recreate the Hawkins Lab where Eleven spent most of her life, or just about anything else.
5 Benny's Burgers Or Tiffany's Diner?
Benny’s Burgers (one of the first places that Eleven appears after escaping the lab in season one, the first episode, in bare feet to steal some food) is a popular fan site, because in addition to reliving Stranger Things moments, you can also grab a bite to eat.
The Diner is called Tiffany’s Kitchen in real life and is known for having excellent food (at reasonable prices) and a wide variety of country kitchen choices to eat. It's located at 7413 Lee Road, in Lithia Springs Georgia.
4 Scenes From Screen Gem Studios
While a lot of the exteriors and outdoor scenes take place around Georgia, other scenes were shot on sets built inside the soundstages at Screen Gems Studios in Atlanta. This is where interiors of the Byers and Wheeler family homes were shot and is part of how Netflix can keep the secrets of the seasons under wraps until they air.
Gem Studios first opened its doors in 2010 and is an 11 stage, 33-acre studio. The complex boasts the honour of being the first full-service production studio to open its doors in Atlanta.
3 The Southern Atlanta Houses
Keep in mind that real people live in this neighbourhood, and don’t want you stomping through their rose gardens, but you can respectfully go and visit many of the homes of the characters on Stranger Things.
The area of East Point, Georgia plays the neighbourhood where most of the main characters live. Mike and Nancy Wheeler’s House is at 2530 Piney Wood Lane, Lucas Sinclair’s at 2550 Piney Wood Lane, Dustin’s two streets over at 2886 Piney Wood Drive, and Barb Holland’s House just around the corner at 2980 Piney Wood Drive.
2 About The Library
When Chief Hopper (David Harbour) is going to complete his research on the Hawkins National Laboratory, he’s doing so in a time before internet lookups, so he seeks answers the way all of us did in the 1980’s, at the local library.
While the interiors are made to look like a library and shot elsewhere (in another local library – Old East Point Library), the outside of the building is really the Probate Court of Butts County. For those who want to visit, head to 25 3rd Street, Ste 7, in Jackson, Georgia.
1 Not Such A Cop Shop
Not too far from the arcade created for Stranger Things is the building exterior, which became the Hawkins Police Station. You’ll need to drive about half a mile away from the site of the arcade. Located at 8485 Courthouse Square West in Douglasville, Georgia. Visitors from last summer noted that those with a keen eye can still see the circular outline on the building where the filmmakers put their prop sign for the fictional Police Station. Odds are that Hopper and the Hawkins police will remain a big part of the show in season three.