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6 towns that can double for Hawkins, Indiana in Stranger Things

Canadian towns that could be the backdrop for Stranger Things

OMG. Tomorrow, season three of Stranger Things will launch.

Last year, Stranger Things 2 season finale left many of us wondering about the Mind Flayer and what it now means that this thing knows about Eleven?

OK. You haven’t watched Stranger Things, the show written by the Duffer brothers that Rotten Tomatoes describes as a “love letter to the ’80s classics that captivated a generation.”? Not to worry. You can catch up on this story that starts off with the mysterious disappearance of a young boy from a small town known as Hawkins, Indiana. Binge-watch the entire season (or two if you haven’t watched the first season — along with 91 original Netflix series and 47 movies that Rotten Tomatoes’ editors so graciously review — before July 4, 2019, when season 3 hits Netflix.

Yep, you heard it. Those waiting to find out whether or not this band of misfit friends, family and local police will get any answers as they continue to be drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments and terrifying supernatural forces comes to an end on July 4, 2019.

But until that day, consider how these six Canadian towns could easily double for Hawkins, Indiana, the town that’s become the backdrop for this soon-to-be cult-classic show.

In order to put together our list, we wanted to roll with towns that really borrowed from the pieces that make Hawkins that perfect midwestern sci-fi town — whether it’s the surrounding nature, the more mysterious buildings (like a laboratory), or simply the sweet charm of a small town. Here are the top six contenders for the Canadian town that could double for Stranger Things’ town of Hawkins.

1. St. Marys (Ontario)

St Marys quarry water trampoline
The St Marys Independent

St. Mary’s is essentially the definition of a classic Canadian town. You have the quintessential main drag, not unlike Hawkins, but what really takes the cake is that this Canadian town has a quarry located just off its main strip. While the St. Mary’s quarry is not nearly as tense as the quarry in Stranger Things, it’s still a cool place for kids (and adults) to cool off in the summer. (Word on the street is they even have a water trampoline!)

2. Sauble Beach (Ontario)

10 best beaches in Canada: Sauble Beach Sign

One of the most iconic things about Hawkins has to be the sign. The “Welcome To Hawkins” is bold, beautiful and screams 1980s kitsche. It’s the perfect introduction to any small town and in Canada, the best example of this warm welcome is the “Welcome to Sauble Beach” sign. Often photographed, it’s hard to forget this charming beach town in Ontario and part of the attraction is its memorable sign. While it might not look exactly the same as the Hawkins sign, it certainly remains an enduring symbol.

3. Chalk River (Ontario)

Chalk River Ontario laboratory
National Research Council of Canada / Chalk River Laboratory security precautions, 1945

If you’ve watched Stranger Things, you know that the Hawkins National Laboratory is a major player in the story. M.A.J.O.R. player. So, we can’t go across Canada looking for a Hawkins stand-in without finding a town with a laboratory. Thankfully, Chalk River, Ontario doesn’t disappoint. Yes, there are differences. The Chalk River lab isn’t surrounded by forest and it played a huge role in Canadian military history, rather than privately-funded scientific research, but the history still lends itself to super-secrecy and cool cover-ups. (We joke!) Turns out the super small town of Chalk River in Northern Ontario actually housed a nuclear research facility during World War II, which is why the Chalk River lab exists — why photographs were once strictly prohibited.

4. Okotoks (Alberta)

Okotoks Alberta small town Stranger Things
Family Fun Canada

Yes, Hawkins is close to a science lab and has a cool welcome sign, but the biggest factor is that the vibe truly encapsulates that great midwestern-American charm. But that doesn’t mean Canada doesn’t have towns with similar charm and neighbourly vibes. One of the best examples is Okotoks, Alberta. Located just south of Calgary, this town is a homey place that is both stunningly picturesque and super-friendly. The only difference? We’re pretty sure nothing nefarious has ever gone down in Okotoks.

5. Kelowna (British Columbia)

Lake Okanagan Kelowna small town doppledanger Stranger Things Hawkins

Lover’s Lake just outside of Hawkins is a special spot and we had to search across Canada for a suitable comparison. While not quite the awesome shape of Lover’s Lake, we were still struck by the beauty of Kelowna’s Okanagan Lake. This B.C. city offers both abundant green space, plenty of snow sports activities, as well as a beautiful lake. Kelowna‘s lake has the charming look down pat plus it’s got that extra-oomph only charming Canadiana and the great outdoors can offer.

6. Chéticamp (Nova Scotia)

Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Cape Breton Highlands National Park

One of the most iconic factors of Hawkins is the huge forest right in their own backyard. Forest Hills Park plays a large role in the series and was actually inspired by the lush green spaces of North Carolina. For that reason, we just had to go with Chéticamp in Nova Scotia, which borders the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Known as where the mountains meet the ocean, we’re pretty sure the views and the adventures that could happen here might even rival those in the show.

That’s our dive into the Canadian towns that could play body double to Hawkins in Stranger Things. Do they have their own stories worth telling? That’s going to be for you to find out! All we know is that they already have the look down perfectly.

Image of Max Specht

Max Specht

Nothing makes Max Specht happier than telling people where to go and what to do—and not in an authoritative sense. He prides himself on being a tour guide par excellence and has the recommendations to prove it.