Lonely Planet Writer

On location: the best Netflix shows to inspire travel lust from the comfort of your couch

With the Easter holiday weekend here, many of us will be thinking about putting all that time off to good use. But if you aren’t lucky enough to have a trip planned, why not put your Netflix account to good use as a source of inspiration for your next journey? In addition to delivering thrills, spills and laughs, Netflix’s in-house programming serves as a world tour in miniature. We’ve put together a list of shows that will whisk you off to fascinating destinations without the need to leave your couch. Happy Easter bingeing!

Flaked is set in Venice Beach neighbourhood of LA.
Flaked is set in Venice Beach neighbourhood of LA.

Los Angeles, Flaked

This bittersweet new comedy starring Arrested Development’s Will Arnett is an unashamed valentine to the Venice Beach neighbourhood of LA. The laid-back corner of the city is a haven for artistic types and boasts a beloved LA landmark in its beachside boardwalk (“you’ve got everything from European tourists to people from other parts of California coming up to the beach to an assortment of folks who live on the beach,”  Arnett commented recently).

Once regarded as a refuge for drop-outs, modern Venice is popular with out-of-towners and locals alike. The swelling waves are beloved by surfers (Go Surf LA offers lessons for beginners) and the Venice Beach Drum Circle is a local institution. For eclectic shopping, meanwhile, the go-to locale is Abbot Kinney Boulevard, named “Coolest Block in America” by GQ magazine. Here, designer clothes emporia squeeze up alongside unpretentious t-shirt outlets, with the Mystic Journey Bookstore a must-visit for those whose tastes run in an esoteric direction.

The popular Netflix drama paints DC as a modern day Rome,
The popular Netflix drama House of Cards paints DC as a modern day Rome

Washington DC, House Of Cards

The American capital is among the underrated treasures of the US, with world class museums, restaurants and bars, and such iconic landmarks as the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. This city of broad avenues and stern facades is also one of the most architecturally imposing in America. It is this aspect of Washington that is conjured spectacularly on House of Cards with the magnificent Capitol Hill dome dominating the horizon and sharp-suited political types conducting hushed transactions in the omnipresent shadows. Although much of the action was, in fact, shot in neighbouring Maryland.

Bloodline is as a gorgeous advertisement for the Keys
Bloodline is as a gorgeous advertisement for the Keys

Florida Keys, Bloodline

This fraught family soap doubles as a gorgeous advertisement for the Keys, an azure archipelago off Florida’s southern coast. With a sub-tropical climate, the Keys are both spectacularly exotic and a perfect retreat for anyone craving sunshine and contemplation. Admittedly, in Bloodline, which stars Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn, they serve as a backdrop for various acts of deep skulduggery. But no matter how grim the drama, the beauty of the Keys shines brightly through the series, back in May for a second season.

San Francisco is a city that feels almost like a town in Flaked
San Francisco is a city that feels almost like a town in Fuller House.

San Francisco, Fuller House

This reboot of cult Nineties sitcom Full House (yes, we can see what they did there) is set in San Francisco. In the real world, the largest city in northern California sits at the heart of the dot-com industry with Google and Facebook among the tech giants headquartered in the surrounding Bay Area. Downtown San Francisco is noted for its innovative dining, laid-back ambience and approachable scale, (at least until you contemplate the nose-bleed rents).

San Francisco is one of America’s foodie outposts and played a key role in the cultural revolution of the Sixties. It is also the spiritual heartland for the LGBT movement in the United States. But amid the hubbub are opportunities for calm and contemplation. Take a trip to the top of Coit Tower in the Telegraph Hill district and drink in the views of Golden Gate Bridge emerging from the mists. 

Master of None delves into contemporary NY, but in one memorable episode is set in Nashville
Master of None delves into contemporary NY, but in one memorable episode is set in Nashville

Memphis, Master of None

Aziz Ansari’s phlegmatic comedy delves deep into contemporary New York. But one memorable episode was filmed almost entirely in Nashville, Tennessee, where Ansari’s character woos a potential love interest over ribs and craft beer. Ticklers Barbecue is a fictional creation alas but there are many real-life alternatives, such as Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint (Belmont) and Hog Heaven in Midtown. Just don’t follow the hapless Ansari’s example and miss your flight home because you’ve taken a detour to stock up on hot-sauce.

The setting of Dardevil is the notorious neighbourhood of Hell's Kitchen
The setting of Dardevil is the notorious neighbourhood of Hell’s Kitchen

New York, Dardevil

Superhero movies are typically more interested in destroying famous cities than eulogising them. However, the acclaimed small screen collaboration between Marvel and Netflix avoids the usual bombast. The setting is the once notorious neighbourhood of Hell’s Kitchen, not far from Manhattan’s Theatre District. In Daredevil, Hell’s Kitchen is portrayed as a proud neighbourhood threatened by cynical property developers. But the real Hell’s Kitchen has emerged across the past decade as a bohemian outpost amid the sky-scrapers of Midtown. Its tree-lined avenues are home to world class eateries serving cuisines from around the world. Indeed, the famous “Restaurant Row” runs through the heart of the area, along 46th Street.

Much of Crouching Tiger was shot in rural China, Bejing and New Zealand
Much of Crouching Tiger was shot in rural China, Bejing and New Zealand

Beijing, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

The narrow-streeted medieval city depicted in this sequel to Ang Lee’s iconic action movie is centuries removed from China’s achingly modern capital. In fact much of Sword of Destiny was shot in New Zealand (with further scenes filmed in rural China). Beijing is actually a runaway megalopolis, where the ancient beauty of the Forbidden City is juxtaposed with a throbbing nightlife and spectacular skyline that seems to grow taller and more glittering by the week.