Following the success of their The Walking Dead and Marvel-themed tours, Atlanta Movie Tours launched the Upside Down Tour, which visits the locations from the hit Netflix series Stranger Things. The show is set in fictional Hawkins, Indiana but was filmed throughout the greater Atlanta, Georgia area. In addition to visiting locations and showing clips from the film, the guides talk about the history and pop culture that inspired the show, including movies like Aliens and easter eggs for “New Coke.”
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Locations from the Tour
We started, as many Atlanta film projects do, in The Gulch, a former stretch of railroad land that is now being redeveloped into a parking lot for adjacent apartments. It’s where Eleven walked through a Chicago homeless camp. It’s also been used for countless others including Captain America: Civil War and The Walking Dead. The pictured pedestrian bridge is no longer there, so you’ll have to see from behind the fence.
In nearby the Pittsburgh neighborhood, we stopped at the building across from the C&L Used Auto Parts junkyard that stood in for the “real” Pittsburgh where the gifted kids stopped the police chase by collapsing a bridge.
They also used Lot 108, a historic building that was part of the 1830s Whitehall Tavern before it was burned by Sherman’s troops. The remaining section is built out as a set including as the funhouse, the Russian lab, the cells, and the tunnel under the mall.
From there, we entered Douglas County and made a brief pass by Tiffany’s Kitchen in Lithia Springs, better known on the show as Benny’s Burgers. It’s here that Eleven tries to steal food before Benny takes pity on her. But the “bad men” are right behind her. It’s a real restaurant serving Southern cooking. Production even painted the interior and put up curtains, which they kept. Just don’t ask where the scene was filmed.
The stop at Sleepy Hollow Farms is perhaps the most exciting because it was used for many important scenes. It’s here that Hopper goes to investigate the suspicious pumpkins at Merrill’s Farm. The team from Hawkins Labs comes out to test them, even though they know what’s going on. Hopper later digs into the “Upside Down” here. The farm hosts activities year-round like the pumpkin patch, corn maze, and Christmas tree farm.
They also have Hopper’s Cabin, which was built on the site to use its exteriors. The wood and metal were treated to make it look older. The shed where Joyce gets bolt cutters and where Nancy grabs the shotgun is also here. The interiors were filmed at the studio, but the cabin is now used as an “escape room.” Atlanta Movie Tours is the only tour company allowed into this area without booking the escape package.
I’d previously visited the “Police Station” in Douglasville where Hopper works. Production used both the interiors and exteriors. But since my visit workers had taken off the entire exterior for a renovation project. It no longer bears any resemblance to the above photo (see here) but is worth a stop if you’re in the area.
Inspired by the name of the arcade in War Games, the Palace Arcade is where the boys play Dragon’s Lair before their high scores are knocked off by someone named “Mad Max.” They later meet her and Lucas and Dustin both develop a crush on her. It’s also where Will encounters the Mind Flayer.
Located right off the square, the building still has the paint from its use as the arcade. They used real arcade games for filming. It’s also next to Family Video, featured in season 3. Both are for sale so their future is unknown.
East Point is home to a number of locations from the show. We passed by Hawkins Town Hall where protestors set up in season 3 and where Hopper later beat up Mayor Kline. The building is East Point’s old City Hall, located right next door to the new one. Both interiors and exteriors were used.
East Point First Baptist Church stood in for the Hawkins Hospital where Will is a patient after returning from the “Upside Down.” The breezeway between buildings creates the ambulance bay.
The Old Atlanta Utility Works building served as “The Source” where Billy had his car wreck and where the Mind Flayer claims his victims, starting with the city’s rat population. It’s not open to the public but you can see the spooky exterior from the street.
The Hawkins Community Pool is where Billy worked as a lifeguard alongside Heather, another victim of the Mind Flayer. It’s also where the kids tried to trap Billy in the sauna to exorcise him. In real life, it’s the South Bend Pool, one of the city’s community pools. It’s open from May to July and admission is $5.
While we weren’t allowed inside, we did drive past EUE/Screen Gems, where the bulk of the show is filmed, including home interiors. The studio is next to Cellaris Amphitheatre and has hosted other filming projects like Black Panther.
From there, it was time to head back to the city! There are many more Stranger Things locations to see, but this tour is a good start for fans.
About the Tour
Atlanta Movie Tours’ Upside Down Tour leaves from their office in Castleberry Hill. It lasts 3.5 hours, starting at 9 am, and includes stops where you can get off. Tickets are $75 per person.
There is a snack break where you can purchase items, but you might want to eat before you go or bring your own. We recommend Adios Cafe down the street.
Book your Upside Down Tour here.
I was hosted on a media preview of the Upside Down Tour but am a longtime fan of Atlanta Movie Tours.