Let’s be real—none of us know when our next vacation is coming, but we all know how good that feeling of anticipating a trip is. We’ll all get back to that one day (I think), but until then, the dream of vacation may have to be enough. One way to at least start thinking about that long-awaited post-pandemic trip happens to be one of the most COVID-friendly ways to spend your time: by watching TV. Multi-task and take in a new show set in an inspiring place, and start fantasizing about your next vacation.
- Emily in Paris. This light-as-a-confection Netflix show is set in Paris (duh), which is the best thing about it (it’s not exactly deep). Step into cafes and patisseries, revel in luxury hotel interiors, and stroll over bridges with Emily (Lily Collins). It only costs as much as a Netflix membership.
- The Affair. Come for the torrid affair, stay for the romantic Montauk setting. The narrative is a mind-bender (each episode is told from a different characters’ perspective), but the beaches of Long Island will make it all OK. It’ll inspire you to visit the tony Hamptons setting or Block Island, the site of one of the characters’ trysts.
- I May Destroy You. One of this year’s best TV shows also has a dreamy setting: Ostia, Italy, where Arabella (Micaela Coel) is sent to write her next book. If the seaside setting isn’t quite your speed, Arabella’s hometown of London is also vibrantly depicted.
- Lost: This early-aughts show is controversial—if you’ve never seen it, I’ll just tell you that the first couple seasons are great, but it’s OK to abandon it after that—but it has one of the most beautiful settings: Hawaii. The characters are marooned on a remote island (actually Kauai), and after the year you’ve had, being marooned honestly sounds pretty nice.
- We Are Who We Are: Director Luca Guadagnino returns to the dreamy setting of his romantic hit Call Me by Your Name for his new HBO series, though this time all the beautiful people are on an army base in Italy. Still dreamy.
- Big Little Lies: Here’s a vacation destination in reach of West Coasters: Monterey, in coastal California. Big Sur’s Bixby Bridge has a starring role in the opening credits, and Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Zoe Kravitz all experience social stress (and also murder) in the gorgeous beach town.
- Treme: A classic HBO series, this New Orleans-set show centers around characters rebuilding their lives after Hurricane Katrina. As heavy as that may be, you’re rewarded with the sights and sounds (especially the sounds!) of music-loving NOLA.
- Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Want the maximum amount of destinations in one TV show? If you’re a foodie, tune into the late Anthony Bourdain’s iconic series to get inspired to go, oh, everywhere.