50 TV and Movie Locations Worthy of a Road Trip
Movies are often giant advertisements for the places where they're shot. The baseball diamond from the 1989 tearjerker "Field of Dreams" sees about 65,000 fans a year, proving true the movie's famous line: "If you build it, they will come." There are innumerable movie and TV locations nationwide that still make for intriguing visits even after the film crews and celebrities have departed. Cheapism reached out to film offices in nearly every state and researched filming locations on websites such as IMDb and LocationsHub for spots worthy of adding to the itinerary on a vacation, weekend away, or road trip.
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The high-flying 1986 summer blockbuster "Top Gun" did wonders for U.S. Navy recruiting efforts and America's confidence in its armed forces. It didn't hurt tourism to San Diego, either, by showing off points of interest such as Kansas City Barbeque (the sports bar where Maverick and Goose play the song "Great Balls of Fire" in a legendary piano scene) and the New Point Loma Lighthouse, which serves as Viper's house in the movie. It's perched on the southern tip of Point Loma atop 400-foot cliffs, with amazing, postcard-worthy views.
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Quentin Tarantino's most recent cinematic offering, 2015's "The Hateful Eight," is a western about a bounty hunter that takes place in the dead of a Wyoming winter. But it was actually Colorado standing in for many panoramic and exterior shots, including the 900-acre Schmid Family Ranch outside Telluride, which dates back to 1882. Visitors can hunt there during big-game seasons and rent cabins on the property -- think towering snow-capped mountains lining the horizon, verdant rolling hills, and unspoiled nature as far as the eye can see.
Surfing and Hawaii are practically synonymous, a fact not lost on producers of the 1991 movie "Point Break," starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. Surfing scenes in the film took place at Waimea Bay Beach Park in Oahu, on the island's legendary North Shore. Surfers from around the world continue to make pilgrimages here, but it's also a popular place to spot dolphins and turtles.
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The majestic and picturesque Oak Alley Plantation outside New Orleans seems designed to serve as a backdrop for grand Hollywood movies. With its namesake canopied alley of oak trees and its location on the banks of the Mississippi, the plantation has hosted film crews for "Interview with a Vampire" (1994) and "Primary Colors" (1998). Visitors can take guided tours of the stunning Greek Revival mansion and grounds, and even spend the night in a cottage on the property, a National Historic Landmark.
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One of the country's treasures, Acadia National Park has not been overlooked by Hollywood. With its picturesque woodlands, rocky beaches, and granite peaks, the park has appeared in 2010's "Shutter Island" (Leonardo DiCaprio's character climbs Otter Cliffs during one of the movie's most harrowing scenes) and the 1999 film "Cider House Rules" (which portrayed a less precarious location -- Sand Beach).
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Seemingly countless films have been shot in Las Vegas, but for a more intriguing Western experience, consider Virginia City, about 30 minutes outside of Reno. It provided the exterior town shots for the long-running TV show "Bonanza" (and reappears in the Travel Channel's "Ghost Adventures"). The city first boomed in 1859, and its wooden sidewalks, buildings dating back to the mid-1800s, and mine tours are still popular with tourists.
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New York City's landmark Carnegie Deli, opened in 1937, has appeared in a dizzying list of TV shows and movies, notably 1984's "Broadway Danny Rose," starring Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, and shows such as "Seinfeld" and "Mad About You." The deli's walls are covered with the pictures of celebrities who have visited and eaten there, and the menu pays tribute to Allen with a sandwich named after him. It's stacked high with corned beef and pastrami.
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Crater Lake National Park is home to the deepest lake in the United States, some of the clearest water anywhere in the world, and more than 90 miles of hiking trails. Hollywood has found all of this stellar scenery hard to resist. The most recent movie to include scenes shot here was 2014's "Wild," starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern.
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For ruggedly beautiful scenery, Badlands National Park is a must-see brought to the silver screen in Kevin Costner's Academy Award-winning drama "Dances With Wolves" from 1990. Visitors from around the world come to see the park's striking geologic deposits, 242,756 acres of buttes, pinnacles, and spires, and the largest undisturbed mixed-grass prairie in the country.
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Described as a magical treat for the eyes, "Water for Elephants" was shot throughout Chattanooga for its 2011 release, but one of the most tourist-friendly locations in the movie is Chattanooga's Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. The museum, which provided two trains for the film starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson, showcases locomotives that date back to the 1800s. Visitors can also ride historic rail lines, some passing through pre-Civil War tunnels.
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