02 May 12 Stranger Things Filming Locations You Can Visit
Since 2016, Netflix’s Stranger Things has captivated audiences with its ’80s nostalgia, supernaturally laden plotlines, and an all-star cast. The show follows a group of young boys and a telekinetic girl who battle Cold War–era Russians and interdimensional evil beings that threaten the existence of their hometown—and the world.
Though Stranger Things is set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, most of the series is actually filmed in Georgia, a longtime favorite of Hollywood thanks to its generous filming tax breaks and other financial incentives that have lured shows like The Walking Dead and Cobra Kai to the state’s piney woods. The fourth and latest season of Stranger Things sees the gang split in three main in-universe locations: Southern California (which is Albuquerque, New Mexico, in real life), Hawkins (Altlanta, Georgia), and a remote Russian prison (Vilnius, Lithuania).
From malls to laboratories, here are some Stranger Things filming locations you can visit yourself. (Just be careful not to get stuck in the Upside Down while touring these locations—you’ve been warned. Also, spoilers ahead.)
1. Bradley’s Big Buy Grocery Store
With a population of a little more than 5,000 people, Palmetto is located about 25 miles southwest of Atlanta. In the past few years, it’s attracted thousands of Stranger Things fans.
When the show premiered in 2016, it became routine for cashiers at Bradley’s Big Buy grocery store to welcome dozens of fans from around the globe, who were in search of the exact place where Millie Bobby Brown (who plays Eleven) stole some Eggos in the first season. This filming location reappeared in the show’s second season after Eleven was bitten by the Mind Flayer’s proxy and the gang broke into Bradley’s Big Buy to find supplies to dress her wound. After they left, Billy Hargrove (who was under the spell of the Mind Flayer) finds Eleven’s blood in the store and is set off on a hunt to destroy her.
Fans are still coming, even after the store changed its name and joined the Piggly Wiggly grocery store franchise in 2019. The store’s manager, David Johnston, said in a 2019 Detroit News article that he’s happy to give quick tours of the Piggly Wiggly and will even point out the path Eleven took through the store when she shoplifted the waffles.
2. Hawkins Police Department
8485 Courthouse Square W., Douglasville, Georgia
In Stranger Things, the town of Hawkins is actually Jackson, Georgia, in real life. But not everything was filmed in Jackson: The building used to represent the Hawkins Police Department, where Sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour) works, is located in nearby Douglasville, about 75 minutes away by car from Jackson. Today, the building is the former town hall of the municipality.
3. Hawkins Laboratory
A drab, brutalist building on Emory University’s Briarcliff Campus in Atlanta serves as Hawkins Laboratory, where all sorts of tragic and unusual events occurred including *spoiler alert* a massacre of telekinetic children. This building was only used to depict the exterior of the Hawkins Lab—interior shots were filmed on a soundstage at a studio.
However, the property’s buildings house a strange, real-life history as well: It was once the mansion and estate of Asa Griggs “Buddie” Candler Jr., the son of Coca-Cola’s cofounder, and another building served as the Georgia Mental Health Institute from 1965 to 1997. On the site of a former laundry, a massive mental health hospital was erected, along with several small satellite homes for long-term hospital residents. Outbuildings were razed, the public pool was filled in, and eventually the property was purchased by Emory University, becoming what is now known as the Briarcliff Campus. The former hospital building still stands and appears in Stranger Things. Actual psychiatric research projects were conducted there, but today it’s a popular shooting location for film and television—the 2017 horror flick Rings was also shot there. While lookie-loos aren’t allowed inside the building, take as many pictures and selfies as your heart desires of the exterior.
4. Starcourt Mall
In Stranger Things’ third season, the gang discovers that the new, popular Starcourt Mall is actually a secret Russian base. In real life, Starcourt Mall is Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth, Georgia, which shuttered a few months before filming began, after years of struggling to attract new tenants. A gruesome fact: Five months before third season filming began, a brutal murder took place in a vacant Subway within the abandoned mall’s food court.
In preparation for shooting, part of the building was remodeled to resemble a stereotypical ’80s mall, which included recreating the interiors and facades of 40 stores (keep an eye out for the Orange Julius). Today, the interior of Gwinnett Place Mall is closed to visitors, but there are plans to revive the structure. Gwinnett County recently acquired the mall and the 93 acres it sits on and plans to convert the land into a mixed-use space with retail, housing, and offices.
5. Hawkins Community Pool
In the the third season of Stranger Things, Billy works as a lifeguard and flirts with older women at the fictional Hawkins Community Pool. It turns out that the filming location is a community pool in real life too, known as South Bend Pool. It’s sited only a half mile from Screen Gems Studios, where many of the interior scenes of Stranger Things were filmed on soundstages. The pool is open from Tuesday through Saturday and is $5 for everyone ages six and up.
6. Stone Mountain Park
DeKalb County, Georgia
Spanning more than 3,200 acres, Stone Mountain Park is Georgia’s most-visited and -popular attraction. Located 15 miles east of Atlanta, it’s open year-round and offers activities like ropes courses, cable car rides to the top of the mountain, and even theme park–like thrills, including a nightly laser and fireworks show.
Many of the outdoor wooded scenes featured in Stranger Things were shot at Stone Mountain Park. The railroad tracks that run through the park are shown in the first season, as the gang walks with Eleven in the woods. And, in the second season, Dustin and Steve bond over girl advice in the forest as they hunt for demodogs.
7. Downtown Hawkins
Throughout the series, downtown Jackson (about 50 miles south of Atlanta) serves as the town of Hawkins, where key characters like Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) and Bob Newby (Sean Astin) worked at Melvald’s General Store. Businesses in Jackson are certainly happy about the new customers in town.
Lucy Lu’s Coffee Cafe opened downtown in 2017, about a year after the first season’s release. Within months, the café created a Stranger Drinks menu. Popular beverages include the Sheriff Hopper, a hazelnut and vanilla coffee drink, and the Demogorgon, a frappé with blood-red food coloring named after the monster that rampages through Hawkins.
If you want to visit locations featured in the show, Melvald’s General Store is at 4 Second Street; down the street, the Butts County Courthouse and Probate Court Building was used for Hawkins Library.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
One of the most shocking events of the latest season of Stranger Things takes place at the in-universe Rink-O-Mania, which is actually the Roller King in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Many of the set decorations used during filming are still there, thanks to a special agreement the roller rink had with Netflix. Roller King agreed to let the film giant use its property for shooting at a discount and in exchange, the rink was allowed to keep the set decor. The location was chosen because of its proximity to Will and Eleven’s new high school as well as the Byers’ new home. It took about four months to renovate Roller King to whip it into shipshape for filming, and kids in ’80s wear and Hellfire T-shirts are already flocking to the establishment.
9. Lenora Hills High School
Albuquerque, New Mexico
After Will, Jonathan, and Eleven move to Lenora Hills, California (Albuquerque, New Mexico, in real life), they all start attending a new school; pothead pizza delivery boy Argyle, a new fan favorite this season, also goes to school here. A few key scenes that demonstrate Eleven’s inability to fit in with her (utterly horrible) classmates and her path back to regaining her telekinetic powers happen in Lenora Hills High School. In real life, Lenora Hills High School is actually the prestigious Eldorado High School in Albuquerque. However, this isn’t the school’s first brush with Hollywood—it was also featured in the first episode of Breaking Bad.
10. Hawkins Cemetery
Stone Mountain, Georgia
Hawkins Cemetery is the setting for one of the most pivotal scenes of the series—it’s the place where Max has a touching monologue about her relationship with her abusive brother Billy and has a reckoning with Vecna, the villain of the fourth season, to the tune of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.” Max’s air-defying episode was filmed at Stone Mountain Cemetery in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Founded in the 1850s, the cemetery contains graves that date back to the Civil War. However, that iconic fourth season scene wasn’t filmed in the same cemetery used as the backdrop of Will Byers’s funeral in Stranger Things’ first season—that took place at Bethany Cemetery in Fayetteville.
11. Surfer Boy Pizza
3476 NM-47, Los Lunas, New Mexico
Season four fan favorite character Argyle (Eduardo Franco) works at Surfer Boy Pizza where he slings dough and delivers ’za. Travelers to New Mexico can actually visit Surfer Boy Pizza—sort of Aliberto’s Mexican Food in Los Lunas (a small village located half an hour south of Albuquerque) serves as the filming location of Surfer Boy Pizza and has iconic New Mexican dishes like green chile plates and chile rellenos on offer. Though you won’t be able to order a slice here, Surfer Boy Pizzas (which come in classic flavors like pepperoni as well as more creative ones like pineapple jalapeño) are available at Walmarts around the country.
12. Kamchatka Prison
One of the biggest reveals of Stranger Things’ latest season is that Hopper is actually still alive—and imprisoned in a high-security penitentiary in Kamchatka, Russia. The Kamchatka peninsula is located in the Russian Far East and borders the Bering Strait and northern Pacific Ocean. However, the prison that stood in for the show’s Russian jail scenes is in Vilnius, Lithuania. (You may recognize Vilnius from the popular HBO series Chernobyl.)
Built in 1904 during the height of the Russian Empire, Lukiškės Prison was constructed during a time when incarceration as a form of punishment was not yet widely practiced—people were either released, sent to the gallows, or whisked away to a labor camp. The structure held prisoners for more than a century until 2019, when it was transformed into Lukiškės Prison 2.0, which now houses a music venue, residency space with enough room for 250 artists, and, ironically, a dance club.