Couch Trips

The Mary Tyler Moore Show — Metro Connections tours; 612-333-8687
Sure, there's Elaine's apartment from Seinfeld and the convent from The Flying Nun. But TV's most famous bachelorette pad is without question Mary Tyler Moore's Minneapolis studio. The owner of the grand 13-room abode that housed it discourages visitors, but tour buses nevertheless slow down for photo ops. Some Moore-heads even climb out of their cars and throw their caps in the air. The house was used for exteriors on The Mary Tyler Moore Show from '70 until '73, when producers got into a dispute with its then owner, who hung a sitcom-unfriendly ''Impeach Nixon'' sign out one of the windows. Mary then moved to the supposedly luxurious Cedar Riverside Apartments, but that building, located in a now-seedy neighborhood, isn't on any tours. ''You wouldn't want to live there,'' says Sue Surma of the Metro Connections tour company. ''It's dangerous.''

Dallas — Parker, Tex. (near Dallas); 800-989-7800
Pining for the naked greed and conspicuous consumption of the '80s? Visit the Southfork Ranch in Texas, site of numerous scenes from Dallas. Since it was sold by its privacy-challenged owners in 1985, the white-columned house has become a full-service tourist mecca that attracts about 500,000 visitors a year. Fans can gawk at the pearl-handled gun that shot J.R., listen to a player piano tinkle the Dallas theme, or eat lunch at Miss Ellie's Deli. Each year, the Southfork Ranch hosts more than 100 couples who get hitched (one wedding featured a J.R. look-alike giving away the bride) and an occasional Western-themed bar mitzvah. Hmm. Were the Ewings Jewish? ''Not that we know of,'' says Mark Thompson, promotions manager. ''But we figure they were everything else, so I'm sure something ties in somewhere.''

Fantasy Island — 301 North Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia, Calif.; 818-821-3222
Can't afford the airfare to Paris for a glimpse of Notre-Dame? Check out another historic bell tower-the one where Fantasy Island's Tattoo (Herve Villechaize) screamed, ''The plane! The plane!'' Located in the L.A. County Arboretum, the 1885 tower and its adjoining house have also made a cameo in Murder, She Wrote and once served as a real-life getaway for actress Sarah Bernhardt. Nowadays, the fragile Victorian structure is open to visitors twice a year, but the rickety bell tower is permanently closed. Even the 3'11'' Villechaize had trouble squeezing up its staircase. ''He was upset,'' remembers Sandy Snider, the arboretum's historian. ''He had to scrunch his shoulders so he wouldn't dirty his white suit.''

Happy Days — 4500 Los Feliz Boulevard, Los Angeles
Even before the Fonz banged on the jukebox, this locale was steeped in showbiz history. Built by film director Cecil B. DeMille, it opened in 1929 as Willard's Chicken Inn and served as the set for Joan Crawford's tantrums in Mildred Pierce. In 1970, Happy Days producers chose to make it ''Arnold's Drive-In'' and set up the rotating A for the shoot. Now it's both Louise's Trattoria and the Derby, which features swing music. Although Happy Days stars like Henry Winkler and Ron Howard are rocking around the clock elsewhere, Derby owner Tammi Gower says, ''Scott Baio's come in a few times. He likes the music.''

The Real World: San Francisco — 953 Lombard Street, San Francisco
Admirers of San Francisco's The Real World have stopped being polite. In the last few months, at least 10,000 MTV-crazed twentysomethings have come to see the house featured in last year's quasi-documentary. A few ring the doorbell, not caring whether it's noon or 3 a.m. Still, Martin Eng, the house's harried but tolerant owner, sometimes gives tourists a peek at the highlights: the mountain bike that Puck left behind, the counter where the jar of peanut butter was defiled, and the toilet where Judd once sat. ''I was so ignorant,'' says Eng, 41, a stockbroker who occasionally charges $7 per tour. ''I thought maybe two or three people would come by a year. I get that many every hour!''

Originally posted Aug 04, 1995 Published in issue #286 Aug 04, 1995 Order article reprints
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