Despite the fact that Pawnee, Indiana, the setting for NBC's Parks and Recreation, gets a bad rap (just because it's one of America's most obese cities, constantly battles raccoon infestations, and has a history of mistreating the Wamapoke Indians, among other things) there's something about the small, fictional town from Parks and Recreation that makes people wish it was real...probably the fact that the show's hero, optimistic and enthusiastic government employee Leslie Knope, loves it so much, even in spite of its flaws. Even though the show wasn't filmed in Indiana (or anywhere near the Hoosier state, save for a few scenes) they did a pretty good job of making it appear as though they were in the Midwest. If you want to explore Leslie Knope's hometown, your best shot is to head to LA and use this handy guide to treat yourself to a trip dedicated to uncovering the real-life Pawnee, Indiana!
The wealthy town of Eagleton (which is Pawnee's rival) comes across as the Beverly Hills of Indiana, so it seems that when filming, they didn't try to hide the fact that they were filming in LA too much, remember when Leslie Knope marvels at the fact that Eagleton somehow has palm trees? Get a taste of the good life (well, if you're not from Pawnee, anyways) by visiting the Westfield Topanga Mall, which served as the filming locations for some of the Eagleton-set scenes from the show.
There's no better place to get a serving of waffles with whipped cream (or should I say whipped cream with a side of waffles?) in Pawnee than Leslie's favorite diner, JJ's! Some interior shots were filmed at Kountry Folks Restaurant.
Other interior shots for Leslie Knope's go-to restaurant were filmed at Four N' 20 Restaurant.
The pit that started it all! Whether Leslie Knope is falling in it, or Andy Dwyer is living in it, or Tom is staking out the garden planted nearby, the Sullivan Street Pit played a huge role in the show. It's neither a pit, nor a park in real life. It was once located on the Southeast corner of Hazeltine Ave and Collins Street in Van Nuys, to be specific.
Ann's house, where she once lived with Andy, is actually located near the former pit. As Leslie Knope's number one BFF, we occasionally saw the two hanging out here.
April, Andy and Ben's House Rules: "We have a couple of house rules, though. You can't use the front door; you have to climb in through the back window. No personal phone conversations. If you ever speak to me in Spanish, please use the formal "usted." And no electricity after 6:00 PM. A couple more rules: if you ever watch a sad movie, you have to wear mascara so we can see whether or not you've been crying. There's no noise allowed on Mondays. And no TV after breakfast." -April Ludgate
Pawnee's preferred gay club was, of course, The Bulge. Inside shots were filmed at Serra's Dine & Dance. It's the perfect place to do a few shots of Snake Juice and get your dance on!
Jurassic Fork is Jerry's favorite restaurant, and it's not hard to see why, it looks awesome! Sadly, there really isn't a kitschy dinosaur-themed restaurant in Indiana...or anywhere right now, for that matter. The closest you can get is Clifton's Cafeteria (where the scenes were filmed), which is presently closed and undergoing a massive renovation to make it even more retro-tastic. The theme of Clifton's appears to be part jungle, part forest, and part beach scene, but it's also 100% awesome. Plus, the food is surprisingly tasty, given that they seem to put an awful lot of emphasis on atmosphere.
Pawnee City Hall is Leslie's home away from home, and where most of the show's action takes place! The recognizable Pasadena City Hall served as the exterior for the building where Leslie and the rest of the Parks Department. Sadly, there are no murals depicting the colorful history of Pawnee inside, but at least the fourth floor is probably safe.
We see Leslie more at work than at home (seriously, the woman never seemed to sleep), but there are few occasions when we see her off-duty, like when she hosted a dinner party to impress Ann's hot lawyer friend Justin. Here on Highland Avenue in Altadena was where the exterior shots of her home were filmed.
Are you still kind of bummed that the show wasn't actually filmed in the Midwest? Don't tear up too fast...they did a bit of filming around Indianapolis! Ron Swanson's favorite restaurant is St. Elmo's Steakhouse, and Andy took a bunch of friends to toss around the pigskin with some Colts players at Lucas Oil Stadium.