7 real-life locations where you can live out your ‘Star Wars’ fantasies

You don’t have to visit a galaxy far, far away to enjoy these out-of-this-world themed experiences

Photo: Sarah Kaufman, Presidio Trust

It’s been 45 years since the first Star Wars movie hit theaters. In the decades since Star Wars: A New Hope captured the minds and hearts of millions, the franchise has become a global phenomenon, spawning 12 movies, several TV specials, and over-the-top theme park attractions. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who couldn’t identify an Ewok or a droid, and today’s Star Wars fans have many options to further immerse themselves into these beloved films.

The Force is strong at these North American Star Wars vacation destinations where you can tour filming locations, view props on display, craft your very own lightsaber, get a taste of blue milk, and more.

A surreal building made up of several sections designed in different styles and materials. Out front is a playground and trees.
Seattle’s MoPop features props from the Star Wars movies. | Photo: Museum of Pop Culture

1. Museum of Pop Culture

Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (or MoPOP) is filled with immersive pop culture experiences that showcase iconic moments in TV, rock music, gaming, and more. Rotating in-depth exhibitions and hands-on experiences often feature science fiction topics, allowing Trekkies, Battlestar Galactica fans, and the like to further explore their favorite characters. But the biggest thrills for Star Wars fanatics can be found in the museum’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, where you’ll discover Luke’s severed hand, costumes, lightsabers, and other props from the movies.

Woman standing in a forest among giant redwood trees
Redwoods State Park in California served as the home of the Ewok species in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

2. Redwoods National and State Parks

Filming for the Star Wars movies took place in scenic worldwide locales such as Ireland, Iceland, Italy, and Tunisia. But those looking for a North American road trip destination should head to Redwoods National and State Parks in Northern California. The parks were used as the real-life stand-in for the Forest Moon of Endor, home to the furry Ewoks in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. While you won’t be able to rent a speeder bike to recreate the movie’s famous chase scenes, a drive along the Avenue of the Giants offers stunning views of massive coastal redwoods.

3. Rancho Obi-Wan

Rancho Obi-Wan is home to one of the largest collections of Star Wars memorabilia in the world. What started as one fan’s collection has grown to include an impressive array of Star Wars merchandise, collectibles, and artifacts gathered together in a Californian museum—truly a must-visit for any Star Wars fanatic. Be sure to book your visit in advance as the guided tour groups are small, ensuring you’ll have ample opportunity to have all of your questions answered.

Yoda statue placed atop a fountain outside of a white building
The Yoda fountain at the Letterman Digital Arts Center is the perfect selfie spot. | Photo: Sarah Kaufman, Presidio Trust

4. Letterman Digital Arts Center

Lucasfilm’s marketing, online, and licensing offices; Industrial Light & Magic; and Lucasarts are all housed in San Francisco’s Letterman Digital Arts Center. While you can’t step inside the offices, they’re located in the middle of a public green space, making it easy for fans to enjoy a pilgrimage to the buildings where major Star Wars decisions are made. At the center of the complex, you’ll find a beautiful Yoda fountain sculpted by artist Lawrence Noble. 

A small child sitting down in sand dunes with mountains in the background
Death Valley National Park’s Mesquite Sand Dunes served as the filming location for the desert planet of Tatooine. | Photo: Amanda Adler

5. Death Valley National Park

Straddling the California-Nevada border, the otherworldly desert landscape of Death Valley National Park was the perfect location to serve as the sun-scorched planet of Tatooine. While spots throughout the park were used for filming, including Artist’s Palette and Golden Canyon, perhaps the most iconic locale is the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. It was here that R2-D2 and C-3PO crashed onto Tatooine, and Star Wars fans who visit this area will enjoy walking on (and even sliding down) the desolate dunes.

Towering gray rock formations above a sci-fi-inspired aircraft
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge can be found at both Disneyland Park in California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. | Photo: Amanda Adler

6. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Disney’s theme parks in California and Florida each offer an entire land that allows you to live your Star Wars story. Both destinations provide similar experiences, offering a chance to fly the Millennium Falcon, join the resistance for a battle, handcraft your own lightsaber, sip cocktails in a cantina with a droid DJ, and explore a remote outpost full of adventure. Sample the most iconic beverage from the Star Wars galaxy, blue milk, as well as an equally enigmatic green version, and join a debate with your traveling companions about which is superior.

People gathered around a bar and dining tables in a futuristic restaurant with neon lights and a masked performer on stage
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is part all-inclusive resort and part live-action role play. | Photo: Disney

7. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser

Have you ever wanted to sleep aboard a spaceship, train for lightsaber battles, dine on out-of-this-world cuisine, or hang out with Chewbacca? At Walt Disney World’s newly opened Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser you can do all this and more. This 2-night experience is not merely a hotel but a first-of-its-kind immersive adventure aboard the Halcyon starcruiser, a vessel filled with hidden Star Wars secrets to unlock. Think of the Galactic Starcruiser as part all-inclusive resort and part live-action role-playing. Come prepared to dive headlong into furtive missions complete with planetary views, never-before-seen games of chance, an alien crew, and much more.