Breaking Bad Sparks Unlikely Travel Boom

albuquerque sign
Jimmy Emerson, Flickr

TV shows and movies have been inspiring people to travel for decades, and I’m sure many of us can relate to wanting to jet off to Paris or sip wine in Tuscany after seeing some on-screen character do just that.

But travel booms can also happen in the unlikeliest of places. Take for example the hit TV show Breaking Bad, which has sparked a surprising tourism boom in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The show about a high school chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine maker is not exactly a poster child for travel inspiration — in fact, the local tourism board didn’t even promote the show until it started filming its fifth season.

But while some locals dislike being associated with the show’s themes of drugs and violence, it’s hard to deny the boost the show has provided to the local economy. Restaurants where the show films are packed to the brim, candy shops sell rock candy that looks like crystal meth and local guides are run off their feet running Breaking Bad tours across the city.So what other unlikely cities have benefited from being featured on screen? We rounded up three destinations that became popular against the odds.

Detroit, Michigan: 8 Mile. This movie about white rapper Eminem’s attempt to launch his career attracted visitors to Detroit despite the film’s gritty portrayal of the Motor City. Tourists flocked to see the abandoned buildings, alleys embellished with graffiti and desolate landscape depicted onscreen.

Scranton, Pennsylvania: The Office. This long-running comedy was actually taped in California, but the tiny town of Scranton where the show is set experienced a surprising tourism boom as fans traveled to see their favorite landmarks from the show. The town of 76,000 fell on hard times after the coal industry collapsed in the 50s, but the recent TV-related tourism helped revitalize the downtown area with new restaurants and businesses.

Senoia, Georgia: The Walking Dead. This small town 25 miles south of Atlanta became a bustling tourist hub after a TV show about zombies was filmed there. Home to just over 3,000 people, Senoia attracted ten times that number in visitors who wanted to buy zombie-themed t-shirts and drink “Zombie Dark” coffee from the café featured in the show.

Have you ever visited a town because of a show that was filmed there?