A brush with pop culture and history can transform a place into a full-fledged destination. Before Michael Jackson fled to Bahrain in 2005 after his acquittal on child molestation charges, the Middle Eastern country wasn't very well known. It's hard to think about Hyannis Port, Mass. without thinking about the Kennedys. Monaco is where Grace Kelly became Princess Grace.
Here's a rundown of more destinations where pop culture and travel intersect. On your next getaway, stay at the hotel that inspired Stephen King's "The Shining" or visit the farm that became Hobbiton in "Lord of the Rings."
Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colo.
(Moses Street / Stanley Hotel) The long, empty corridors of the Stanley Hotel in its off-season inspired Stephen King's 1977 novel, "The Shining." During a visit in 1974, when they were the only guests, King and his wife, Tabitha, stayed in Room 217, which was believed to be haunted. After a night in the hotel, King thought up the concept for the book, which was later turned into a horror film that became a classic.
Rooms start at $99 a night.
Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times) Griffith Park was the setting of James Dean's knife fight scene in "Rebel Without a Cause," the 1955 film that also starred Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo. The observatory opened in 1955 when the Griffith Trust, named for Col. Griffith Jenkins Griffith, transferred ownership of the observatory to the city of Los Angeles. The movie marked the first time a planetarium theater was used in a film. Today, a bust of Dean sits on the observatory lawn.
Admission to the observatory and grounds is free. There is a fee to see shows in the planetarium.
(Spencer Saffer) When she married Prince Rainier III in 1956, American actress Grace Kelly became Princess Grace of Monaco. The Hollywood actress' adopted home is best known for Monte Carlo, an area of the city-state along the French Riviera that is a playground for the rich and famous. The luxurious principality has hosted the Grand Prix since 1929.
Trevi Fountain, Rome
(Jason La / Los Angeles Times) A classic example of Baroque art, Trevi Fountain is the setting of the iconic scene between Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni in Federico Felini's 1960 "La Dolce Vita." The fountain, a short walk from the Pantheon, is one of Rome's top attractions.
Tradition holds that if you throw one coin in the fountain over your shoulder, you'll return to Rome; two coins and you'll find romance in Rome; three coins and you'll marry in Rome.
(Peter Morgan) Liverpool, perhaps best recognized by the Royal Liver Building near the River Mersey, is home to many inspirations for Beatles' music: the street Penny Lane, Eleanor Rigby's gravestone and a Salvation Army orphanage called Strawberry Field.
(Hasan Jamali / Associated Press) After his acquittal in 2005 on child molestation charges, Michael Jackson got away from it all in Bahrain. The island nation is home to about 720,000 residents. It was already a popular tourist destination in the Arab world, but it's emerging as a destination for other international tourists as well.
San Ysidro Ranch, Santa Barbara
(Dan Parham) After traveling to Acapulco, during their honeymoon in 1953, newlyweds John and Jackie Kennedy traveled up the California coast to stay at a cottage at San Ysidro Ranch. The exclusive resort and hotel also was the site of the 1940 wedding of film stars Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier.
Rooms start at $685 a night. Cottages run from $1,200 a night.
Hyannis Port, Mass.
(Jay Jones) The six-acre community in Cape Code is home to the Kennedy compound and other residencies of the Kennedy family. Long associated with affluence, Hyannis Port has been linked to the political family for more than 80 years. The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy lived here until his death in August.
Honeymoon Hideaway, Palm Springs
(Dean Cheng) Shortly after Elvis and Priscilla Presley were married in a quiet ceremony in Las Vegas in May 1967, the couple spent their honeymoon at Elvis' Palm Springs estate, now a popular tourist attraction known as "the Honeymoon Hideaway."
(Tracy Lee Silveria / Los Angeles Times) This island nation in the Pacific was the filming location for Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The country's scenic and diverse geography were ideal for portraying J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth. Matamata, on New Zealand's North Island, was the setting of Hobbiton. Mt. Ruapehu, also on North Island, was used to depict Mt. Doom.
New Zealand attractions include Tongariro National Park and Te Wahipounamu park, both UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Dealey Plaza, Dallas
(Bret St. Clair / Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza) Dealey Plaza is the site from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots that killed President Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. Various agencies and groups investigating the assassination concluded that Oswald fired at Kennedy from the former Texas School Book Depository building that borders the plaza. The plaza's grassy knoll is still unverified as the location of a possible hidden second gunman.
Beverly Wilshire, Los Angeles
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times) Steps from the pricey shops of Rodeo Drive, the Beverly Wilshire was showcased in 1990's "Pretty Woman," serving as the façade and lobby of the where hotel Julia Roberts and Richard Gere stayed. The e-shaped hotel, which is listed on the National Register of Historical Places, was completed in 1928.
Standard rates for a moderate room start at $445.
Hotel Chelsea, New York
(Jim Linwood) The Hotel Chelsea opened in 1884 as a private apartment cooperative. Reopening as a hotel in 1905, it became both famous and infamous for its many high-profile residents, including poet Allen Ginsberg, musicians Patti Smith and Bob Dylan, who composed songs during their stays. The hotel is also where Sid Vicious, bassist for the Sex Pistols, allegedly stabbed his girlfriend Nancy Spungen to death in 1978.
Rooms start at $149.
(Vanuatu Tourist Office) Vanuatu was the site of the ninth season of the TV reality show "Survivor" in 2004. In 2008, UNESCO recognized the 83-island chain in the southwest Pacific by inscribing locations associated with central Vanuatu's last paramount chief, Roi Mata, in its list of World Heritage sites. The sites include the chief's residence and burial site.
(Peter Hess) Audrey Hepburn married her first husband, actor, director and producer Mel Ferrer, in 1954 on Bürgenstock, a mountain in Switzerland. The mountain is known for its breathtaking views of Lake Lucerne, which lies at its base.
Gamble House, Pasadena
(Ann Cusack / Los Angeles Times) This National Historic Landmark served as Doc Brown's 1955 home in the 1985 movie "Back to the Future," starring Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd as Brown. The house, built in 1908 for David and Mary Gamble, the Gamble of Procter & Gamble, is a classic Craftsman home designed by influential architects Charles and Henry Greene.
The city of Pasadena now owns the home, which is open for tours.
Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, N.M.
(Ghost Ranch) The red and gray hills, dramatic cliffs and flat-topped mountains surrounding Ghost Ranch inspired many landscape paintings of iconic American artist Georgia O'Keeffe. Ghost Ranch is north of Santa Fe and is now an educational center and retreat center owned by the Presbyterian church.
(Tony Hammond) Prince Charles of Wales and Princess Diana took up residence at the Highgrove House in Gloucestershire shortly after they were married in 1981. Today, it is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall. Gloucestershire is also the location of Hidcote Manor Garden, known for its rare trees and influence on 20th century British gardens.
Hotel Ambos Mundos, Havana, Cuba
(Chris Brown) Ernest Hemingway wrote most of his war novel "For Whom the Bell Tolls" in Room 511 of Hotel Ambos Mundos. It was his last novel before World War II, where he was served as a war correspondent.
Rooms start at about $93 a night.
Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Montreal
(Fairmont Hotels & Resorts) In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono settled into to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, where they put on their jammies and stayed in bed for seven days in support of world peace. During their bed-in, the famous peace anthem "Give Peace a Chance" was recorded in their hotel room, Suite 1742.
Room rates start at about $170 a night.
Chott el Gharsa, Tunisia
(Mark Abel) In the middle of the Sahara desert near Tunisia's Chott el Gharsa salt flat is a ghost town best recognized as Mos Espa, a spaceport in the "Star Wars" world of Tatooine. Scenes from "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" were filmed in the desert town of dome-roofed adobe buildings. Mos Espa is the home of Anakin Skywalker and is known for the podraces in its Grand Arena.
'Hobbiton' and other destinations drawn from pop culture - latimes.com