Chasing Hollywood Via Roadtrip
Sorry, baseball fans: movies are America's true pastime and one of our greatest cultural touchstones. We'll help you adventure into the places where the movies come to life.
This summer, identify the cinematic adventure that’s right for you and your group, and get there with the All-New Land Rover Discovery.
Watching a great film transports you to another place and time, but true film buffs should make a point to actually visit the filming locations of some of their favorite movies. Of course, Hollywood itself is the best destination for indulging your movie mania, but there are so many more fantastic movie-themed locations all around the country, too. Here are some trip ideas that will make you and your travel group want to yell, “action!”
As the author of The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book, William Gordon is an expert on scoping out Hollywood’s best sites for movie fans. Here are his favorite tips for designing a tour to suit your interests:
1. Websites like Seeing Stars, Discover Los Angeles, and I Am Not Stalker are decent sources for finding suggested sites. Just beware they could be spread out all over the vast city of Los Angeles. “But the problem with them is they are not arranged geographically,” explains Gordon, “so a tourist or visitor would have to spend hours trying to map out all the locations.” Of course Gordon’s own book is a great resource, too.
2. Plan out your trip and the sites you want to see far in advance. “Tourists who try to ‘wing it’ will miss out on interesting things to see,” says Gordon. “Also, the city is quite spread out and it is best to pick your priorities in advance…It is impossible to see everything if you are only here for a week.”
3. Always keep in mind that celebrities’ homes are private residences. “You can drive by them, admire them, or be what we call a ‘lookie-loo,’ but you should never, ever disturb the privacy of the individuals who live in them,” explains Gordon. “If you approach a celebrity at his or her home, he or she may construe the approach as a hostile act and respond accordingly."
You don’t necessarily have to go to California to see some the real, live filming locations of some of your favorite movies. In New York City, there’s the Firehouse in Ghostbusters and Washington Square Park from When Harry Met Sally. And that famous scene in Rocky means the film is forever connected to the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There are plenty of under-the-radar film locations sprinkled all across the country. Here are six sites that are off the beaten path:
The Hunger Games: Dupont State Forest, North Carolina
Fans of the Jennifer Lawrence film series will recognize this verdant forest as the location of the films’ namesake games. Based on the trilogy of novels by Suzanne Collins, it was here that teenagers living in a dystopian society were selected and forced to fight to the death.
The Breakfast Club & Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Maine North High School, Illinois
Both movies are some of filmmaker John Hughes’s most beloved works. This former school is the site of the library from The Breakfast Club, as well as some of the interior high school shots from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Today, the building serves as the district headquarters for the Illinois State Police and also has a youth center.
The Fugitive: Cheoah Dam, North Carolina
It’s probably the most famous scene from 1993’s highest-grossing film: during the tunnel chase scene where Deputy Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) traps Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford), leaving him no choice but to take a flying leap off the edge of this 225-foot high dam.
Forrest Gump: Chippewa Square, Georgia
“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” It’s the most famous line from Forrest Gump, and Tom Hanks uttered those words during the iconic bus stop scene, filmed on a bench in Savannah’s historic Chippewa Square.
The Shining: Timberline Lodge, Oregon
That famous exterior shot of Stanley Kubrick’s terrifying film wasn’t actually filmed in Colorado. The Timberline Lodge is actually located on the south side of Mount Hood in Clackamas County, Oregon, which stood in for the exterior of the haunted Overlook Hotel.
You and your travel group’s quest for the magic of Hollywood doesn’t need to be limited to film locations. Historic theaters tucked away around the country can unlock the Golden Age of cinema. These historic cinemas are still going strong, and some of them even have throwback ticket prices to match.
Old County Theater: Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Built in 1938, this art deco theater is now operated by a local non-profit. It shows independent, art, and foreign films, all in a gorgeous setting from the heyday of Old Hollywood.
State Theatre: Traverse City, Michigan
This Michigan institution was built in 1949 following a fire at the original Lyric Theatre. It closed and fell into disrepair during the 1990’s, but in 2007 it reopened thanks to support from the community, as well as film director and Michigan native Michael Moore.
Hippodrome Arts Centre: Julesburg, Colorado
This historic theater dating back to 1919 was reborn in 1996 when the town’s residents organized to buy it and restore it as a multi-cultural center, in addition to its former job as a cinema. Today it regularly hosts exhibits of local artists.
Historic Palace Theatre: Lockport, New York
The non-profit community organization that runs this 1925 theater calls it a Western New York landmark, preserved to maintain the historic and architectural integrity of the region. Located right downtown, it shows movies and also operates a theatre school for children.
Jane Pickens Theater: Newport, Rhode Island
The building that houses the theater in this historic New England town dates back to 1834. Relax in the lobby decorated with art deco chandeliers, wrought iron railings, and counters and bar stools before taking your seat in its classic balcony.