Who said the Upside Down wasn’t real?
You there! Yes, you! Stop digging a hole in your back garden. The neighbours are getting really irritated, your back’s in agony and you’re dangerously close to a water pipe. You won’t reach the Upside Down, like in Stranger Things. It doesn’t exist. Or at least, the Upside Down hasn’t found us yet.
Hawkins, Indiana – with all its vintage arcades, spooky forests and disused train tracks – isn’t a real town, it’s a creation of the Duffer brothers. But it is based on real locations; suburban towns stuck in a time machine; nightmarish outdoor spaces; giant industrial blocks shrouded in mystery. Instead of digging that hole, you’d be better off travelling the world to these real life places, which all bear resemblance to Hawkins.
Montauk, New York
What does it have? Montauk was the original title for Stranger Things, largely because the fishing town has paranormal disturbances of its own. Hawkins National Laboratory takes a big influence from “Camp Hero,” a mysterious air force base with underground tunnels and countless acres unavailable to the public. Several rumours surround “Camp Hero”, ones of abduction, half-human, half-reptile creatures and alien life.
Strangest thing: The Air Force Station’s eerie radar tower, which overlooks Montauk.
How to get there: The nearest airport is Long Island MacArthur, 66 miles away.
Dorky’s Barcade, Tahoma, Washington
What does it have? The most old school assemblage of vintage arcade machines this side of Hawkins. There are some signs of modern sheen and the 00’s getting its mitts on retromania, but you can spend hours plugging away at Asteroids and Ghostbusters. But don’t even think about beating Mad Max’s high score.
Strangest thing: The wooden, swinging door entrance is so Hawkins, you half imagine Billy to be waiting on the other side with a sports car after you’ve played Space Invaders for six hours.
How to get there: Fly to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Morgan-Monroe State Forest, Indiana
What does it have? The world’s most haunted forest, according to locals. The second largest woodland in Indiana – Hawkins’ state, it should be noted – is steeped in spooky tales. Like the Black Lady, a ghost who lost her infant son in the 1930’s and stays by his grave to this day. Or the Lady’s dog, who has also been cited in paranormal reports. Oh, and apparently Bigfoot loves a stroll around these parts.
Strangest thing: The Stepp Cemetery, home of the Black Lady. The closest you can get to meeting the Shadow Monster.
How to get there: Fly to Fort Wayne International Airport.
This abandoned train wreck, Cleveland, Ohio
What does it have? A post-apocalypse scene, set in a forest in the Ohio / Pennsylvania border. Photographer Seph Lawless, who specialises in finding scenes of spooky abandonment, stumbled upon this haunted site. It doubles up as the perfect place to hide from Demadogs.
Strangest thing: Its proximity to a forest, which makes it almost perfect for Hawkins-style adventures.
How to get there: Fly to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
Stonehaven Farm, Campbellville, Ontario, Canada
What does it have? A gloomy pumpkin patch worthy of paranormal activity. Whatever you do, don’t pull giant, pesticide-free squashes from their roots in an attempt to find weird, black slime. The people of Stonehaven Farm wouldn’t be best pleased.
Strangest thing: The similarly scary crops surrounding Stonehaven’s plentiful supply of pumpkins.
How to get there: Fly to Toronto and drive for 45 minutes.