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Fictional Films/TV and Real Destinations

One of the most popular televisions shows about Alaska (although not filmed in the state) was “Northern Exposure.” For five seasons spanning the early- to mid-‘90s, the fictional town of Cicily, Alaska provided the backdrop for the story of a New York City doctor transplanted to the remote and eccentric town who struggled to adapt to his new home and culture.

While Roslyn, Washington was the location for Cicily, Alaska, the fictional town is widely believed to be based on a hybrid of Alaska’s charming small towns including Skagway, HainesSeward and Talkeetna.

By many visitors’ accounts, Talkeetna is a lot like the fictional Cicily with its eccentricities and creative residents. The town is situated between Anchorage and Fairbanks along the George Parks Highway and is accessible by road from either location; it is also a stop along the Alaska Railroad’s Denali Star route.

A stroll down Main Street, the town’s only paved road, begins at the town park with the iconic and much-photographed “Welcome to Beautiful Downtown Talkeetna” sign and ends at the Susitna River. The town’s appearance reflects its founding at the turn of the 20th century, when gold first brought miners to the area. Log cabins, dirt roads and historic storefronts still define Talkeetna today, as well as its aviation-centric lifestyle.

The 2009 romantic comedy “The Proposal” stars Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds as coworkers forced to marry. The pair ventures to Reynolds’ character’s hometown, Sitka, where the majority of the film takes place. Though principal filming actually took place in Rockport, Mass., background shots, including impressive snowcapped peaks, were filmed in and around Sitka, a small town on the Pacific coast of Baranof Island along Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Travelers can see the real grandeur of Sitka by hopping on a commercial jetcruise ship or one of Alaska’s state ferries. The town of Sitka overlooks the pristine waters of Sitka Sound and a nearby dormant volcano, Mount Edgecumbe. Small, forested islands are clustered throughout the sound, and at sunset the city becomes one of the most picturesque destinations in the region. Sitka is also known for its rich Alaska Native and Russian heritage. When Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867, the official transfer ceremony and first raising of the U.S. flag over Alaska took place in Sitka.

The city offers various outdoor recreation opportunities right from the harbor, and other attractions are not far away including the Alaska Raptor Center, the Sitka National Historical Park and Saint Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral, the focal point of downtown Sitka.

Wondering if your favorite Alaska-based flick was really filmed in Last Frontier? The answer is “no” for “Insomnia,” “30 Days of Night,” “Mystery, Alaska,” “The Fourth Kind” and the upcoming thriller “The Grey,” starring Liam Neeson. However, TV shows with Alaska themes are usually filmed on site, including “The Deadliest Catch,” “Ice Road Truckers,” “Flying Wild Alaska,” “Gold Rush Alaska,” “Alaska State Troopers” and many others.

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