Pop Culture Travel – Small Town America

Where do you find inspiration for your next destination? Some people go to travel websites, some ask their friends and some consult a tourist business. But if you are like me, one of the best pieces of inspiration will come from TV shows and movies. Today, I will guide you through 5 American small towns that have become synonomous with the stories that take place there. On this list you might be missing the lumber industries of Twin Peaks or the vampire infested southern town of Bon Temps from True Blood. While the settings in those shows surely can be seen as inspiring, they are also completely fictional which can make them a rather abstract destination for your travels. Instead I will focus on real towns where you can go to experience the atmosphere of small town America through pop culture travel!

pop culture travel


Fargo, Bemidji

The first season of the TV show Fargo takes place in the small town of Bemidji, near Minneapolis. The show is inspired by the movie with the same name that came out in 1996, which took place in the town of Fargo in North Dakota. Apart from being located in close proximity to each other, they both share that mysterious solitude which both the show and movie drew inspiration from when creating the black comedy crime dramas. Season 2 of Fargo, which premiered the 12 of October this year, will feature the same town that the movie made famous. A little piece of personal advice: the lakes and national forests around Bemidji is a perfect place to go in the Autumn to experience the foliege.

pop culture travel


Roswell, Roswell

Have you ever had a friend that seems a little bit… weird? Have you ever considered that he or she might be an alien? Probably not. But if you live in the small town of Roswell, located near Albuquerque, maybe you should. This show is based on what it would be like if the conspiracy theories regarding a UFO crash landing in Roswell in the 1940′s were true. Turns out that aliens are living among us, and look just like us, and we might even fall in love with them.

pop culture travel

Photo: Ken Lund


Glee, Lima

In the small town of Lima, near Columbus lies the fictional William McKinley High School. While the school doesn’t exist in reality, the town very much so does and is for all intents and purposes the most quintessential location for small town drama where everyone knows everyone. The town is also featured in a documentary called Lost in Middle America (and What Happened Next). Lima is probably most known for those interested in the American military, as it hosts a military museum and has long been a military manufacturer since late in World War II. If you meet someone at the local bar, chances are they work at the Lima Army Tank Plant.

pop culture travel


Arrested Development, Newport Beach

In this upper class small town, located near Los Angeles you can find the dysfunctional Bluth family. While the American dream is often portrayed as going from rags to riches, the comedy in this show is based on how the family handles going from riches to rags with the main character Michael acting as the only sane person among a group of crazy people. While the show mocks the absurd lifestyle of Newport Beach, I can’t be the only one that feels the allure of a life where the beach is basically on your front porch. Maybe it is better to visit than to live there though. Newport Beach is a part of Orange County, which you might remember from the popular teenage drama show that aired between 2003 and 2007, The O.C.


pop culture travel


Dazed and Confused, Suburbs of Austin

Dazed and Confused, the cult classic from 1993, will make you remember what it was like growing up in a small town with hangouts at gas stations and in general being bored together with your friends. And in case that was not part of your upbringing, it is still a very fun film to watch since it features the then unknown Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck and Milla Jovovich.

pop culture travel

Henrik Vilén
Loves architecture, old landmarks and prefers to spend his time abroad in quaint, small towns or in the countryside. Is the happiest when sitting at a local café with the only sounds being a dog distantly barking in harmony with chatter in foreign languages. The next item on his bucket list is the Easter Island.