When developing the original Legend of Zelda game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, series creator Shigeru Miyamoto reportedly found inspiration in his childhood memories of exploring fields, forests, and caves in and around Kyoto, Japan. The child-like wonderment of exploration that such memories represent has continued to inform every other game in the Zelda series, and its universal message has connected with generations of fans all over the world.

No member of the Zelda Dungeon staff can claim to have memories of exploring the wilds of Kyoto as a kid, but the Zelda series’ themes of child-like exploration nevertheless struck a chord with each and every one of us. Though we hail from just about every corner of the globe, Link’s adventures across various realms and kingdoms have, over and over again, provided us a way to reconnect with the curiosity, discovery, and wonderment of childhood.

We wouldn’t be writing for this website if we didn’t see The Legend of Zelda in nearly every aspect of our lives. So, taking a cue from Mr. Miyamoto’s initial inspirations for the series, the many talented members of the Zelda Dungeon writing team have decided to share about the sights, spots, and secret places in our hometowns that remind us of The Legend of Zelda. From the mountains of the western United States, to the woods of the Midwest, to the castles of Europe and the United Kingdom, shades of Hyrule exist just about everywhere, it seems.

Join us as we share about the “legendary locales” in our own personal kingdoms.


Midwestern United States – Brandon Schmitz, Senior Editor

It’s easy to understand how Shigeru Miyamoto’s inspiration for The Legend of Zelda came in part from his memories of exploring his hometown as a kid. Throughout my childhood, few things captured my imagination so thoroughly as exploring the woods within my neighborhood. My brothers and I spent seemingly countless days exploring its various paths. I wouldn’t discover the Zelda series until a few years later, but Ocarina of Time’s Lost Woods and The Wind Waker’s Forbidden Woods evoked that same, unbridled sense of mystery and adventure. The notion that this whole other world exists just beyond my backyard — it’s a concept that’s recreated beautifully in Twilight Princess’s Faron Woods, especially.


Adam’s Canyon, Utah – Chakell Herbert, Associate Editor

I live right next to a mountain range in Utah, and hiking to the peaks is one of my favorite hobbies! On a particular hike recently, I took this photo at the top of the mountain at dusk and was reminded a lot of the northern Akkala region in Breath of the Wild. That region of Hyrule is my absolute favorite because I am a big fan of autumn and all the colorful trees. The only thing I would need to complete this Zelda-esque moment would be a loyal horse and the threat of a Guardian laser. But I’ll pass for now on the latter!


Heidelberg, Germany – Kat Vadam, Associate Editor

Standing on the walkways of the castle, looking out over the city of Heidelberg, I felt like I could be looking at Castle Town. A painting, a fairy tale come to life. I imagined people dancing and playing in the snow as holiday merriment carried on around them. Like what Princess Zelda may have seen as she gazed upon her kingdom in Ocarina of Time. Something she longed to join.


Indiana Dunes State Park – Sean Gadus, Senior Editor

On a rainy day in late July, I ended up hiking a muddy 1.5 mile trail in Indiana Dunes State Park. The final dune on the trail (Mt. Tom) is extremely steep. Because of this, a set of long and winding stairs have been built so travelers can more easily make it to the top. It is that set of vast, steep stairs that reminded me of Hyrule. In almost every Zelda game, there is a moment when you climb up a set of long stairs or stumble through a gateway to reach a new area.


It is those moments of possibility that make the series so brilliant, the evocative promise that something immense and awe-inspiring is just over the horizon, waiting for YOU to discover it. Racing up those steps on that rainy day, I could have been on the brink of Death Mountain Trail, Lake Hylia, or Gerudo Valley. Anything was possible.


Inland Empire, California – Rod Lloyd, Managing Editor

Just as Ikana Canyon lies to the east of Clock Town in Majora’s Mask, this undeveloped patch of land lies just east of my hometown in Southern California. Not far from the mountain range known locally as “The Badlands,” the entire region — or rather, what’s left after years of industrial development — boasts hills of craggy rocks, dry ravines, and a gorgeous desert skyline.

Ever since I first discovered the Zelda series during the Nintendo 64 era, I’ve associated the arid, mountainous regions east of my house with the desert areas of the Zelda series, chiefly Ikana Canyon from Majora’s Mask. When your corner of the world lacks things like woodlands and pastures, one can’t help but see the Zelda series’ most hopeless, haunted places in your backyard.

But when Breath of the Wild — with its extensively diverse set of landscapes to explore — released back in 2017, I began to see aspects of the Gerudo and Eldin provinces of that game in this region as well. Like our hero Link spotting a Shrine, Tower, or Goddess Statue on a neighboring peak in the game, I found my eyes drawn to natural guideposts — half-obscured paths, peculiar stones, and mysterious ravines — inviting me to come explore.


Benson, North Carolina – John Piland, Associate Editor

The trees at the back of this image remind me of the Dueling Peaks in Breath of the Wild. The way they stand tall, juxtaposed against the field as though a mountain split down the middle, bears a striking similarity to the locale in Central Hyrule. Way back in 2017 when I was first playing Breath of the Wild, this beautiful sight was right outside my front yard. I’ll always remember how cool it was having a piece of Hyrule right in front of my house and being able to share in that awesomeness with my Zelda friends at the time.


Howard Stafford Park, Mississippi – Heather Beard, Senior Editor

One of the things I miss the most about the neighborhood where I used to live in Mississippi is the park that was at the end of the street. Every Spring, I would make multiple treks to the park just to watch as the blossoms on this tree bloomed. It was a multiple-day affair, but at least the weather was still nice and cool during the southern springtimes. I always got so excited as the tree started to bud because it meant that soon beautiful pink blossoms would greet those at the entrance of the park. The smell of the blooming flowers was always so overwhelming, and the flowers themselves were just awe-inspiring.

The tree always reminded me of the blossoming tree at the top of Satori Mountain in Breath of the Wild. There was something peaceful about sitting in this tree, looking at each individual flower, and watching the bees flit from one to another. And much like Satori Mountain, there was just something magical about this tree. The park itself was never anything to write home about, but this blossoming tree was the pinnacle of beauty every spring. The summer heat would always take it away, and those blooms would turn into a vibrant green; but in my heart I knew that those magic blossoms would return again to bloom anew.


Founders Memorial Garden, Georgia – Kora Burton, Associate Editor

Especially during the summer heat, there’s just something lovely about visiting a locale where the vibes alone seem to turn down the temperature by a few degrees. This is what I imagine the experience must be like visiting the many springs that can be found throughout the Zelda series. When I most recently visited the Founders Memorial Garden at my nearest college campus, I was reminded most of Skyward Sword’s Skyview Spring and Breath of the Wild’s Spring of Power (I’ll leave it up to the reader to sort out for themselves which springs may have become which between these eras, as theories abound). Adorned with plenty of shady greenery, burbling fountains, and stone statues that remind one of the Goddess Hylia, the garden is a sudden escape from the constant nearby ruckus of traffic noise.


The Founders Memorial Garden is situated right between a busy main road and stout classroom buildings where students learn foreign languages, listen to literature readings, and write for their composition classes. A thick wall of green bamboo divides the stony paths within the garden from the concrete sidewalks full of laughing or venting students on the outside as they pass by. Birds sing overhead, and butterflies alight on every bush and vine they can find. For Link, I imagine it must be nice to come to such a place to escape the daily demands of the Hero’s Journey and to meditate on his goals and aspirations. For me, it’s a nice place to eat some lunch and put off answering emails – for a little while, at least.


Southern California – Alex Weber, Senior Editor

I felt more than lucky when taking cosplay pictures to remember that right behind my house are these ruined stairs that remind me so much of Breath of the Wild! The ruined post-apocalyptic Hyrule in that game is the version of the kingdom that compels me most. It’s so interesting to me that Link in that game is exploring the remnants of a land he very obviously failed to be the hero of, and yet he perseveres nonetheless. Link finds strength in the present and in the future, and I think it’s beautiful. I feel honored to celebrate that story whenever I wear this cosplay and look outside to see my own chaotic wilderness.


Livingston Manor, New York – Mike Soldano, Junior Editor

My family and I went hiking a few weekends ago, in the mountains of upstate New York. It was a really nice time had by all despite the sweltering heat. We didn’t make it far, but we all put up a valiant effort and were lucky enough to witness all sorts of wildlife, including a wide variety of frogs. Along our trail, we came to this divergent path leading into the dense foliage and under the canopy of leaves. Spooky, right? But, there’s something dark and mysterious about this path that piqued my curiosity, warranting further exploration.

It reminded me of the entrance to the Lost Woods from A Link to the Past. Picture the mist seeping out from within, a gang of Moblins waiting to ambush you on the other side. Does the Master Sword dwell hidden in these woods?


Cincinnati’s Chateau Laroche – David Wayne Nystrom, Associate Editor

One of the many things that makes the Zelda series iconic is Hyrule Castle. Regardless of which design you personally have an affinity for, the tall towers, the castle walls, and the gardens held within are always a memorable experience to explore and fight through. That said, in the United States, we don’t have much in the way of castles. Well, that’s not totally true.

In the Cincinnati suburb of Loveland, on the banks of the Little Miami River, we have our very on 10th Century-style Norman castle. Chateau Laroche (also known as the Loveland Castle) is an authentic medieval castle built with stones from the river that it overlooks. Construction began in 1929 after its World War I medic owner, Sir Harry Delos Andrews, and his knights decided they couldn’t be real knights without a castle. The Knights of the Golden Trail still maintain the castle and its grounds to this day.

I’ve been here several times throughout the years, but it always gets me excited to remember that I live less than a half hour away from a castle. While it may be small, it reminds me of so many of the outposts in Breath of the Wild. Likewise, the gardens and gate remind me of Ocarina of Time in the classical approach. When my family and I went the other weekend, my son brought along a small foam sword and one of his many Link hats. How much more Zelda does it get than that?


San Francisco Peaks, Arizona – Michaela El-Ters, Associate Editor

I’ve resided in Flagstaff, Arizona for nearly ten years, and despite not growing up here, I consider it my home. Located in northern Arizona and in the heart of the largest Ponderosa pine tree forest in North America, Flagstaff’s green, lush landscapes, tall trees, and scenic four seasons is a stark contrast to the rest of Arizona and the assumption that it’s a flat desert and nothing else. Hiking trails are peppered throughout the community and extend to the San Francisco Peaks, a beautiful mountain range that is ever visible over the city. 

I took this photo during a hike on what we colloquially refer to as “The Peaks,” and while I stood looking out over the landscape, I felt the same sense of adventure and scale I experienced playing Breath of the Wild. I spent countless hours climbing mountains and overlooking the land of Hyrule below. Getting that sense of the large, beautiful world around me in my home is a reminder of how special the world truly is, and how video games can capture that scale and grandiose so perfectly is precious to me.


Rural Minnesota – Andrew Millard, Copy Editor

One common thread among Zelda games is losing your way in the Lost Woods, only to leave stronger and with a new sense of purpose.

Here in northern Minnesota, the landscape is dotted with unnamed woods, too small to be parks or gobbled up for private ownership and hunting. Windbreaks, groves, or even bigger tracts of woodland are pretty easy to come by, but not always easy to visit. At least not legally. So it’s nice that right outside my house is a knot of wooded areas that include this gully. They hide away a small feeder stream for the nearby lake. As soon as I take a step forward from where this picture is taken, I’m likely to spook a Barred Owl. Or even a Great Blue Heron or an American Egret: real-life Loftwings. Would that I could find its magical center and draw out the Master Sword. Ah well, having this view and the wildlife it feeds is enough. A privilege, in fact. I always leave them stronger and with a new sense of purpose. 


Belfast City Hall, Deerpark Bridge, & Dunluce Castle, Northern Ireland – Judy Calder, Copy Editor

Check out Belfast City Hall, an architectural exhibition of Baroque Revival based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

This City Hall in my hometown reminds me of Lorule Castle from A Link Between Worlds. It has that grand, final dungeon feel that inspires awe at first glance. The lighter facets of the walls and towers alongside the lantern-crowned dome struck a chord with me as soon as I compared both structures. If I hadn’t walked its halls already, I’d be convinced this place is full of Lorule Soldiers just waiting to attack!


This is Deerpark Bridge which can be found in Antrim Castle Gardens, Northern Ireland. Constructed over three centuries ago, this bridge is a stunningly picturesque feature that I get to enjoy should I decide to take a stroll just minutes from my home.

This locale reminds me of Boneyard Bridge from Breath of the Wild. Just like Boneyard Bridge stands in proximity to Hyrule Castle, Deerpark Bridge used to stand near Antrim Castle (until it burned down, that is). Both bridges are made from old stone and feature archways for a river full of fish to flow under. I wonder, if during my next walk in the gardens I were to toss a rock into the river, would I find a real life Korok reminiscent of my comparison? I might just give that a try for the fun of it!


The ruins you see here are that of the medieval Dunluce Castle found in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

This iconic Irish castle reminds me of the Outpost Ruins in Breath of the Wild. Like that particular location, Dunluce Castle is in distinct disrepair having borne witness to a long and tumultuous history. It faced besiege on numerous occasions and was eventually abandoned, although it was no stranger to scavengers after that time. I can just imagine Link traversing the ruins of this castle in an effort to find some weaponry and a Treasure Chest with a Red Rupee to boot, much like he does when visiting the Outpost Ruins itself!


While playing a Legend of Zelda game, one may be easily fooled into thinking that no place on earth can be as beautiful or picturesque as the kingdom of Hyrule. But we hope that, in touring the Zelda Dungeon staff’s legendary locales, you are reminded that many aspects the natural world around us are just as, if not more, breathtaking than any vista from the Zelda series. There might just be some Zelda magic right outside your backdoor if you choose to look for it.

We hope we’ve inspired you to go seek out the legendary locales in your own hometown. If you have any places near you that remind you of The Legend of Zelda, be sure to share about them in the comments below!

Tagged With: No tags were found for this entry.