A holly, jolly guide to holiday movie filming locations

Relive ‘A Christmas Story’ in Cleveland, stay ‘Home Alone’ in Chicago, and find out why ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ in Seneca Falls, New York

'A Christmas Story' house. | Photo: Emily Malkowski

Do you spend Christmas Day watching A Christmas Story on a constant loop? When you order pizza, do you tell the driver to “Keep the change, ya filthy animal”? Then this guide might be for you.

‘Tis the season to queue up your favorite films and get cozy—here are nine real-life filming locations from beloved holiday classics, from Elf to Die Hard.


1. Emser Tile Building, Lethal Weapon

Los Angeles’ Emser Tile Building, featured in the Mel Gibson and Danny Glover classic Lethal Weapon (set in California at Christmastime), still serves as the headquarters for the Emser Tile Company. Visit for the art deco architecture and beautiful signage—just don’t jump off the seven story roof, even if there’s a police airbag waiting for you at the bottom.


a tall glass and steel angular office building set against a clear blue sky
Fox Plaza Tower. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

2. Fox Plaza Tower, Die Hard

Although there’s still some spirited debate about whether or not 1988’s Die Hard counts as a Christmas movie, we think so: Set during Christmas, the movie follows New York City policeman John McClane (Bruce Willis) as he joins his estranged wife for a holiday party in the headquarters of the Japanese-owned business she works for. 

Known as Nakatomi Plaza in the movie, Fox Plaza is a 34-story office building located in Los Angeles. The 34th story was once occupied by Ronald Reagan and is now home to 20th Century Studios, and the building has been featured in several other movies and TV shows, including Fight Club, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The X-Files.  


a railroad-style dining car with red and white trim and a large sign that says "mickey's dining car"
Mickey’s Diner. | Library of Congress / John Margolies

3. Mickey’s Diner, Jingle All the Way

The 1990s were a good time for Christmas movies and Jingle All The Way, starring Sinbad, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Phil Hartman, is one of the cheesiest. Set and filmed in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, including at the Mall of America, Jingle All the Way also features Mickey’s Diner, a 1930s railroad-style dining car. The St. Paul diner is infinitely photogenic; film fans might also recognize it from The Mighty Ducks, A Prairie Home Companion, or a 1991 music video from the Pet Shop Boys.


A large house with Christmas decorations on the exterior
The house from Home Alone. | Photo: Roberto Valz

4. Home Alone house

At some point during the holidays, we might all relate to one or more of the frustrated family members in Home Alone, whether it’s as exasperated parents, annoyance with an image-obsessed uncle, or Kevin’s desire to just be left alone (one of the film’s many universal lessons: Be careful what you wish for). The latter is even more understandable when you live in a house as grand and magical for the holidays as the McAllisters’. Keep in mind that the house, located in a suburb less than 20 miles north of Chicago is a private residence, so be respectful if you visit. 


a yellow and green house with a porch and an black iron fence
The front of the house. | Photo courtesy of A Christmas Story House

5. A Christmas Story house

A Christmas Story is a holiday staple, playing on a constant loop for 24 hours on TV on Christmas Day. Ralphie’s childhood home and neighboring buildings, used only for exterior shots, have been turned into a year-round museum (the whole complex, located in Cleveland, Ohio, is currently for sale). After 2 years of remodeling and restoration, including matching the interiors to reflect the movie, the attraction opened in 2006, drawing more than 4,000 guests during Thanksgiving weekend and 50,000 annually since. 

Related Ralphie’s childhood home from ‘A Christmas Story’ lives on


6. Toronto, Canada, The Santa Clause

The 1993 Tim Allen classic The Santa Clause was shot in Canada, including the town of Oakville (standing in for Lakeside, Illinois) and Toronto, as well as at a Hollywood studio. The reindeer used in the film weren’t from the North Pole, but on loan from the Toronto Zoo


a black and white street sign for George Bailey LN
Seneca Falls. | Flickr/Doug Kerr

7. It’s A Wonderful Life Museum

Fans of the Jimmy Stewart classic It’s A Wonderful Life will find plenty of things that make life feel wonderful in Seneca Falls, a western New York town in the Finger Lakes region known as “the real Bedford Falls.” In addition to its contributions to the Womens’ Suffrage Movement, Seneca Falls is also home to the It’s A Wonderful Life Museum; open year round, the museum gets extra festive in early December with an annual celebration featuring autograph sessions with cast members, screenings, tours, and more.


The facade of the Plaza Hotel during the holidays
The Plaza Hotel. | Photo: Alexandra Charitan

8. The Plaza Hotel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

The Plaza, located on the southeast corner of Central Park, still might be “New York’s most exciting hotel experience,” 30 years after Kevin gets lost in New York in the Home Alone sequel. Even if you’re not a guest of the New Celebrity Ding-Dang-Dong, visitors can admire its beautiful exterior, which recently underwent a restoration—don’t miss the fountain outside, which is usually draped in evergreens and other festive decorations during the holidays.

Related New York City’s best holiday light displays are in southwest Brooklyn


a tall art deco apartment building on central park west in new york city
55 Central Park West. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

9. 55 Central Park West, Elf

The grand Central Park West apartment building featured in Ghostbusters also happens to be where Buddy the Elf’s dad (James Caan) lives in the 2003 Will Ferrel-led film Elf. So whether you’re looking for Zuul or some Christmas cheer, this is a great place to start. The best way to get here? Pass through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gumdrops, and then walk through the Lincoln Tunnel—or just take the ACBD or 1 trains to Columbus Circle and walk a few blocks north. 

Related Bust spirits at these 7 ‘Ghostbusters’ filming locations in New York City


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