If you’re one of those people who like to visit the real places depicted in movies, you’re out of luck when it comes to Derry, Maine. While you might be looking to check out some spooky places following the release of IT Chapter Two, and before Halloween, the sleepy, small town that’s full of a lot of things that go bump in the night probably isn’t your best bet.
It has popped up in a handful of Stephen King’s novels over the years, but Derry is unfortunately not a real place. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find cities like it in New England and feel like you’re visiting it alongside the members of the Losers Club, young and old editions.
The fictional town of Derry isn’t just the backdrop for IT’s antics (both in the book and the movies); it’s also become very much a part of the King-verse, having been mentioned in many of his other novels and short stories. Insomnia, Bag of Bones, and 11/22/63 are all set in Derry, while the location is also mentioned on Pet Sematary, The Tommyknockers, Gerald's Game, Misery, Under the Dome (the novel, not the TV show), and the Hulu TV series Castle Rock, which is a combination of several King stories. (Castle Rock is actually another known King location.)
Even though it might be completely fictional, the town is very much based on actual locations in Maine, the main one being Bangor, where King actually resides. He was actually born in Portland, Maine, before moving to Durham as a teenager, and then Bolder, Colorado as an adult. It was actually in the midwest that King thought up It, and the story would eventually take him to his home state. Back in 2017, before the release of IT (2017), King told the Bangor Daily News, “I wanted it to be in Maine because that’s the place I knew. Maine [has] towns and cities [that] have histories going back hundreds of years. I wanted Bangor because it was a tougher, harder place...So we moved to Bangor, where we’ve been ever since. It was good for the book and good for us.”
As the Bangor Daily News continues, the city has definitely embraced the spookiness King has brought to it and the author even put a red balloon in his window just before IT’s release in 2017, because that’s not creepy or anything.
Just because Derry’s not real doesn’t mean you can’t take a tour of some of the real locations in and around Bangor that inspired King and his work. If you find yourself in New England, you can take the three-hour Stephen King Tour which promises that you will see places the author “has lived and worked, places that have inspired his stories, and actual film locations from his movies [like] the cemetery where Pet Sematary was actually filmed.” Also FYI, the tour is child and pet-friendly because who’s going to put a cap on all that spookiness?