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September 10, 2019

Tucked away inside a Dallas couple’s Lower Greenville duplex is a nostalgia-rich apartment that’s drawing considerable attention from travelers and unique vacation rental seekers—they currently have 133 5-star reviews on Airbnb—including features in House Beautiful, Apartment Therapy, and Travel and Leisure.

The McFly, its namesake drawn from the hugely popular 1985 film, Back to the Future, is a wall-to-wall embrace of the most charming and endearing highlights from a decade known for churning witticisms like yuppie, preppie, and state fair hair into our lexicon. At first, I wondered if the dining room might be a replica of the cafeteria set from Saved By the Bell. I checked; it’s not. In SBTB, their cafe was called the Max. A pop-up diner, Saved By the Max, inspired by the fictional version, actually opened up last year in Los Angeles. Actually, as I learned later, that’s more the vibe of Jeremy and Kelsey’s sister unit, The Slater. Not only does the dining room look almost identical to the Max, the listing is literally titled: Saved By the ‘90s. Spoiler alert, that unit is equally as cool.

So with pop culture already reflecting a clear obsession with all things ‘80s lore—Stranger Things, the IT remake, The Carrie Diaries, Fuller House—even if you weren’t a bonafide child of the Walkman, shoulder pads, and the Garbage Pail Kids era, the full-on sensory experience here at The McFly will help you forget that you missed out at all.

Hammer your fingers to numbness on the buttons of a vintage arcade game (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Relive the frustration of the original Nintendo, requiring a deep breath (literally) and a prayer to actually get it to work. Lounge on the plushy bright sofas as your kiddos, who are so adorably removed from this now antiquated tech, chuck pillows toward the ground in humorous and repeated Mario Bros defeat. Grab a bowl from the cereal bar and munch down a mouthful of your favorite loopy, pebbly, sweet-puffed goodness. Touch (carefully) the famous Hover Board Marty McFly rode in the follow-up Future sequel. And explore all the other fun relics on display between the punchy, bright rooms including a Peewee’s Playhouse lunchbox, a first-generation Game Boy, Ninja Turtle action figures, corded telephones, boomboxes, and sports car poster art.

But, for me, The McFly was more than “pure eye candy” as one reviewer described it. Staying here also reminded me about the importance of nostalgia in travel. Maybe it was being surrounded by all the physical objects of my youth. Maybe it was the late-night wine drinking while watching Back to the Future. I mean, you have to, right? It’s The freakin’ McFly, after all! Still, sentimentality is not usually something that hits us while traveling—I guess unless it’s to a funeral. I suppose that’s because when we travel, typically we’re headed to see something new.

But sentimentality stands to enrich our experiences the more we allow ourselves to feel it. Keeping our family histories in mind as we consider where to visit, remembering a moment in our past, however wistful, and returning to the places that anchor us as strong curiosity seekers are just a few ways we can inspire a more thoughtful approach to exploring.


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