Step Into The World Of The Popular Holiday Movie A Christmas Story In This Midwest City

Director Bob Clark, who sadly passed away in 2007, has a rather unusual place in the history of Christmas movies: He's the filmmaker responsible for both one of the scariest holiday movies ("Black Christmas") and one of the most beloved, "A Christmas Story."

Released in 1983, Clark's festive classic takes us back to the '40s where we follow the fortunes of the working-class Parker family and young Ralphie's dream of getting a BB gun for Christmas. The film, based on the semi-autobiographical anecdotes of humorist and radio personality Jean Shepherd, was a sleeper hit initially. Over the years, however, it became such a huge part of holiday tradition in the United States and Canada that cable channels started running 24-hour marathons of the movie in the mid-'90s.  

"A Christmas Story" is set in Indiana, but the film was shot in neighboring Ohio and further afield in Toronto, Canada. Clark and his production team scouted around 20 cities but eventually settled on Cleveland for a practical reason: Higbee's Department Store, a key location in the story, was willing to let the director shoot the movie inside the store.

Fittingly, a film that inspires such nostalgia and devotion around the holiday season has a shrine dedicated to it, although non-fans might mistake the modest dwelling at 3159 W 11th Street in Cleveland for just another home. For movie buffs, however, it is none other than the "A Christmas Story" house, and the best part is that it is open to visitors.

What does a tour of A Christmas Story House involve?

In "A Christmas Story," the snowy outdoor shenanigans of Ralphie and his friends and the cozy scenes in the Parker household match seamlessly, although they were mostly shot in completely different places. While many of the exteriors were shot in Cleveland, most of the interiors were actually shot on a sound stage in Toronto. Over 20 years later, the two elements came together. In 2004, a big fan of the film named Brian Jones bought the Tremont house on eBay and had it refurbished to perfectly match the interiors from the movie.

A Christmas Story House is now open most of the year for guided tours, which run every half an hour. Needless to say, peak season is around the holidays, so you should prepare for queues if you want to visit near Christmas. Once you're inside, the lovingly renovated interior is full of amazing period details that make it feel like you're really stepping onto the set of the movie. One of the highlights is the Old Man's tacky leg lamp, which stands proudly in the front room window as you'd expect. 

The great thing about the tour is that it's an interactive experience, and visitors are encouraged to handle the props and recreate their favorite scenes from the movie. You'll even find a replica bar of soap in the bathroom to wash your mouth out with!

Other things to see and do at A Christmas Story House and Museum

If a short visit to A Christmas Story House isn't long enough, you can book the whole place for an overnight stay. Rates start at $545, but if you actually want to open your presents on Christmas morning right where Ralphie finally got his BB gun, a minimum two-night stay over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will set you back a whopping $3,995! Other accommodation is also available next door in the Bumpus House, home of the Parker family's hillbilly neighbors.

Across the street from the house is a museum dedicated to "A Christmas Story," packed with authentic costumes and props from the film, like Randy's snowsuit and the Old Man's classic automobile. Dotted around between the exhibits, you'll also find plenty of production stills and interesting bits of movie trivia. As you'd expect, there is also a gift shop where you can pick up some memorabilia — including your very own replica leg lamp!

If you're feeling hungry during your visit, check out the Rowley Inn on the corner nearby. It's a cozy pub with a great menu full of classic comfort food and a strong connection to the movie; many of its regulars became extras, and members of the cast and crew would unwind in the bar after filming. Overall, A Christmas Story House and Museum is a fun experience and a must-visit for fans of the holiday classic.