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Where Was Stranger Things Filmed?

Netflix's Stranger Things is a fun sci-fi/horror hybrid that effectively evokes the sights and sounds of its '80s-set era, and it's become a monster hit for the streaming service partly because of the way it balances its nostalgia against universally creepy childhood fears. The show also makes marvelous use of its small-town setting, putting audiences inside fictional Hawkins, Indiana so seamlessly that it's only natural to wonder whether it'd be possible to walk those streets in real life.

Who wouldn't want to set foot on the same ground that served as the secret threshold to the Upside Down? Well, good news, Stranger Things fans: you can make your very own pilgrimage to the locations where the show was brought to life, and we've got the details right here.

Unmade in Georgia

Stranger Things creators the Duffer Brothers originally conceived of the show as being set in their hometown of Montauk, New York—in fact, when they pitched the series, it was named after the town. But as Matt Duffer told The Hollywood Reporter, the eventual change "was more practical than anything. ... it was really going to be impossible to shoot in or around Long Island in the wintertime. It was just going to be miserable and expensive."

Seeking cheaper alternatives, the duo turned to another chapter from their childhood while scouting alternate locations, and ended up migrating south. "We're actually from North Carolina," continued Matt, "so when we wound up in Atlanta and I started scouting Atlanta we got excited about it, because it looked actually much more like our own childhoods. It reminded me of my own childhood."

Indeed, the Atlanta area is rapidly becoming the Hollywood of the south—count The Walking Dead, The Vampire Diaries, The Hunger Games, and even Avengers: Infinity Wars and Marvel's Black Panther among the highest-profile sets to recently call the Peach State home. Hey, tax credits matter.

Prime pitstop

For those Stranger Things fans who aren't as keen on waffles as Eleven but still want to sup on something reminiscent of the show, you're in luck. The place where Eleven first popped in to try and steal some food upon escaping the lab, then called Benny's Burgers, is a real-life luncheon that's still up and running. Tiffany's Kitchen in Lithia Springs, Georgia had to close its doors to patrons for a week to accommodate filming of those suspenseful early moments of the show. But the diner went right back to business as usual as soon as Benny Hammond's fake entrails were cleaned up off the floor—and, yep, they serve burgers.

Going to class

Stockbridge, Georgia's Patrick Henry High School became the site of several of the school scenes from Stranger Things. From the Hawkins High School hallways the teen adventurers walked (RIP Barb!) to the Hawkins Middle School site that the kiddos went to when they weren't off scouring the netherworld for their missing friend—and even sometimes when they were.

In other words, while it might've looked like the epic gymnasium scene from the middle school and those high school hall lockers were worlds apart, they really shared the same roof. According to the Henry County Times, Netflix paid the county over $78,000 to close the school—which served as the perfect spot not only because it was big enough to double as two locations, but because its architecture and design were right for the show's period setting.

Where all the mindwork was done

As detailed by Architectural Digest, Stranger Things fans can see one of the show's creepiest sets live and in person on the Emory University Briarcliff campus in Druid Hills, Atlanta. The building used by Stranger Things for its Department of Energy research laboratory scenes in the first season (which, according to one eagle-eyed local resident, are back in action for season two) was formerly known as the Georgia Mental Health Institute before that facility was shuttered in the mid-'90s and adopted by Emory.

The quarry

Perhaps the most popular place Stranger Things filmed in its first season was Westside Reservoir Park's Bellwood Quarry. The site was acquired by the city of Atlanta in 2006 with plans to transform it into a public park, with the quarry itself eventually meant to serve as a water reservoir. Meanwhile, though, the location has become a hot spot for film crews. Stranger Things filmed several of its outdoor scenes at the location, including the one in which the kids finally unanimously decide to rally around Eleven after she saves Mike from falling into the abyss during an argument. The site has also been home to scenes from The Walking Dead, The Vampire Diaries, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, but it's not technically open to the public until the Atlanta Belt Line preservation project is complete.

A throwback town

Jackson, Georgia was the setting of a lot of Stranger Thing's downtown scenes in the first season, and it isn't hard to see why. As noted by Movie Pilot, one store still sports a throwback Radio Shack sign, while the structures themselves—including a straight-outta-Back to the Future-style clock tower!—fit right into the vintage '80s aesthetic. More importantly, the population sparse enough that the visitors found very few people roaming the streets, which means that the set clearing process here must've been a cinch.

As production designer Chris Trujillo told Deep South Magazine, the Atlanta suburbs were also prime real estate for prop shopping. "Atlanta was actually quite the perfect location to play Hawkins because of its similar topography as well as the treasure troves of set décor we discovered at estate sales. We'd freak people out," he explained. "We'd find these amazing homes that look like time capsules from the late '70s and early '80s and go in and basically buy everything, including what was in the junk drawers."

Spending money on the arcade

Given how well the area fit for Stranger Things' first season, it's no surprise that the Duffer Brothers returned to the Atlanta area for filming of the second. But this time, the production ordered up some construction to create their own arcade facility in the town of Douglasville, Georgia, which had previously housed the sets of the Hawkins police station (the former City Hall building, which was subsequently torn down after the shoot). The arcade, which is expected to be a prime place of business for the kids in the new run, was previously a laundromat.

Screen Gems Studios

While a number of the exterior scenes were filmed in real-life locations scattered around the Atlanta area, many of the interior shots for Stranger Things were manufactured in a studio space at Screen Gems Studios in the same town. The studio was the site of sets like the interior of the Byers' home—yes, the same one whose walls were etched with the alphabet and smashed with a sledgehammer—as well as in the interior shots of the research facility where "Papa" and his nefarious team tested and tortured Eleven.