by Lisa Downs -

Top 9 Movie Locations to Visit in the USA!

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Join us as we explore our Top 9 Movie Locations to Visit in the USA! (and it's not just Hollywood!)

USA is the land of the home of movies, so why not explore some of the most magical, amazing and surprising locations that you might just recognise (and we don't just mean Hollywood!) - from whole towns to iconic buildings, get ready for the movies come to life!

Here are our Top 9 Movie Locations to Visit in the USA!

1. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is so beautiful (being one of the most history - and haunted - towns in the entire USA!) that it's no surprise that film companies flock there every year to utilise that Spanish Moss as it's backdrop.

The most famous Academy-Award winning movie to call Savannah home is Forrest Gump, starring Tom Hanks. That iconic "life is like a box of chocolates" bench scene was actually filmed in Chippewa Square, with one of the screen-used benches on display at the Savannah History Museum!

Other notable films shot in Savannah include The Last Song with Miley Cyrus (check out the Tybee Island Wedding Chapel!), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (head for Forsyth Park and Bonaventure Cemetary) and even the live action remake of Disney's Lady & the Tramp! (You might recognise Lafayette Square!)

Image Credit: "Forrest Gump" (c) 1994 Paramount 

2. Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles

Not only is Griffith Observatory a great place to visit on any trip to Los Angeles, it also happens to be the location of some very famous movies!

You'll be "Dancing With the Stars" if you love LA-LA-Land, the 2016 musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. In fact, it's at the observatory where these two young love birds literally dance among the stars and look up at the planetarium.

Other movies include Gangster Squad (funnily enough for a scene again with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone!), The Terminator where Arnold Schwartzneggar makes that first iconic appearance, and 2003's Charlies Angel's Full Throttle when the Angel's learn that Demi Moore was actually and Angel once too!

Ultimately, the most famous film to have used this LA icon is Rebel Without A Cause, starring James Dean. Filmed in 1955, the famous knife fight scene was filmed with that stunning view of downtown LA in the background. Today, a bronze bust of Dean stands proud at the Observatory, to celebrate who just might be it's most famous visitor. 

If nothing else, head to Griffith Observatory for the view!

Image Credit: "Rebel Without A Cause" (c) 1955 Warner Bros

3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia has been home to many a great film - both independent and Blockbusters - so let's start by talking about M Night Shyamalan - after all, it's his hometown and he certainly let's you feel the love. The first nine of his films were shot right in the city, from The Sixth Sense in 1999, through to Split in 2016

Other films you might like to check out the movie locations for, are National Treasure starring Nicolas Cage (remember the famous scenes at The Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall?) or Bradley Cooper's Limitless (head to Philadelphia City Hall). 

Flashback to 1995 with Twelve Monkeys starring Brad Pitt (one for the older kids!), with locations like Eastern State Penitentiary and Old Met Theatre making for a really fascinating movie location tour. 

Let's not forget Tom Hanks' Philadelphia (he's a regular on our movie location list!), but the most famous of all Philadelphia sites has to be the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art - where Sylvester Stallone ran up in that old, grey tracksuit with his hands in the air. The moment is even commemorated with The Rocky Statue! (don't forget to run up there with your earphones in, playing "Rocky's Theme" - you won't be the only one to have done that!)

Rocky (and others in the Rocky series) also filmed at Kensington (especially 1818 East Tusculum St.), as well as Philadelphia City Hall and Italian Market.

Image Credit: "Rocky" (c) 1976 United Artists

4. Moab, Utah

What may seem like a strange choice compared to cities like LA, Philadelphia and Savannah, won't seem so much of a strange choice when you actually visit! Moab is simply stunning, and has been the backdrop of some of the most successful films in history! In fact, the area has been attracting filmmakers since the 1940s. 

If you have a chance, explore an area called Profressor Valley (also known as Castle Valley) - 80% of the films shot in Moab are filmed there. You can take full or half day Colorado River Adventures if you want to really explore it. 

Watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and you'll spot a young Indy (played by River Phoenix) running around the Double Arch in Arches National Park. (Some of the movie's Middle East scenes were filmed in Moab too)

Back to Nicolas Cage with Con Air (1996) where the stunning Moab desert landscape features quite predominantly, and for authenticity, 127 Hours was filmed in the very place at Blue John Canyon (very hard to reach) that the real-life hiker hit trouble. Others include Galaxy Quest and Mission Impossible II. 

However, the most iconic of all movies filmed in Moab we feel is Thelma & Louise. Several scenes of Ridley Scott's 1990 classic were filmed in Moab, including that famous end scene of the (spoiler!) car plunges over the edge of what is supposed to be The Grand Canyon, but it's in fact by Fossil Point, off the Schafer Trail below Dead Horse Point.

The productions haven't just stopped at movies, either.  Moab has seen a host of commercial shoots pass through, and you might even recognise it from Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory" music video! Check out the Red Cliffs Lodge Movie Museum for more movie history and some very cool memorabilia!

Image Credit: "Thelma & Louise" (c) 1990 MGM

5. Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Really, we are listing Martha's Vineyard for one film only - Jaws

In this 1975 Spileberg classic, Martha's Vineyard is transformed into the fictional Amity Island, where that iconic shark needs the crew to find a bigger boat. 

There are a number of specific locations you can visit to re-live the film that shook the world to stay out of the waters.

Vineyard Haven Harbor is where the opening scene was shot, and Main Street and Water Street in Edgartown, as well as Cow Beach, are places to add to your itinerary.

Head to the sand dunes at South Beach in Katama to see where the bonfire took place, and Menemsha Harbor is where Quint's shack stood. 

Make sure you make a point to visit the American Legion Memorial Bridge (aka Jaws Bridge!) It's here Jaws is spotted arriving into Sengekontacket Pond, and where a certain someone meets his end on 4th July. It seems that jumping off the bridge has become a popular rite of passage too. 

Keep an eye out for companies like Edgartown Tours who can take you around to all the sights if you don't fancy doing it on your own! 

"We're gonna need a bigger tour!"

Image Credit: "Jaws" (c) 1975 Universal

6. The Goondocks, Astoria, OR

Quite possibly the most iconic of all childhood movies is The Goonies. This Richard Donner 1986 classic (produced by Spielberg) was filmed in the charming seaside town of Astoria, and today remains a pilgrimidge for many Goonies-fans.

The current owners of the "Goonies House" want their privacy, so you can no longer walk right up to the house, or even take photos from the street. Your best bet is to be near the water and look at it from a distance on the hill.

One stop that you can visit is the County Jail - used in the opening scene as the infamous Fratelli's escape, now the Oregon Film Museum and is great for kids to not only see memorabilia from The Goonies, but also others movies that filmed in the area. 

Astoria is also the filming locations for other classic films such as Short Circuit, Free Willy and Kindergarten Cop, so there are many opportunities for movie buffs to get their kicks!

If you want to continue your Goonies adventure (and who wouldn't!?), about a 40 minute drive away is Cannon Beach, another iconic landmark within the film, with those stunning rocks jutting out of the Pacific Ocean.

Image Credit: "The Goonies" (c) 1986 Amblin / Warner Bros

7. Katz's Delicatessen, New York

More one for the parents, but kids will love the food! Katz's Delicatessen is not just one of America's most iconic restaurants, but it's also the setting for that famous "I'll have what she's having" scene from the 1989 Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal classic When Harry Met Sally

Located at 205 East Houston Street, this kosher style deli was established in 1888 and is an American icon, so whether or not you've seen the film, it's worth a visit! The food is incredible, with sandwiches filled with brisket, pastrami, turkey and corned beef, which can be finished off with mouthwatering NY cheesecake, and the classic Matzoh Ball Soup.  Don't miss trying those delicious pickles either!

Image Credit: "When Harry Met Sally" (c) 1989 Columbia

8. Kauai, Hawaii Jurassic Park! That's exactly what will run through your mind when you visit this stunning Hawaiian island with it's impressive mountains and lush landscapes, as it was here that Spielberg brought his crew to film the iconic Jurassic Park franchise, and transformed it into Isla Nublar. 

What is really lovely about this area, is it's not actually open to the public so you have to take a guided tour with Kualoa Ranch which means it feels just that little bit special that YOU get to experience it.

Kualoa Ranch offers a number of tours including the Hollywood Movie Sites & Ranch Tour, but if it's Jurassic Park you're going for (and we assume you are!), then check out their 2.5 hour Jurassic Adventure Tour, which takes you to all the iconic sites including that heartstopping scene where the Gallamimus flock their way!

From Jurassic World you can also visit the Indominus Rex paddock with its 60 ft walls, as well as the bunkers and authentic dinosaur cages used in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.  

Image Credit: "Jurassic Park" (c) 1993 Amblin / Universal

9. Coney Island, New York

Coney Island is a GREAT place to visit anyway with kids! You have the rides, the arcades, and the world famous Nathan's Hot Dogs. However, if you're a movie buff then you will get SO much more out of the experience because it's been used as a location to a huge number of iconic films!

Remember Beaches with Bette Midler? The beginning of the film shows Bette Midler's character as a little girl (played by Myriam Balick) in Atlantic City with her best friend. It wasn't Atlantic City at all, but in fact Coney Island!

You know of The Wizard of Oz (1939), but have you seen The Wiz starring MIchael Jackson and Diana Ross? This 1978 adaptation showed the Tin Man discovered under the Cyclone Roller Coaster at Coney Island (and that rollercoaster still stands today!)

Uptown Girls saw Brittany Murphy and a young Dakota Fanning sharing a tender moment on the tea cup ride, but it really was The Warriors that is the best known film that almost saw Coney Island as it's own character.

This 1979 classic is about a fictional gang from Coney Island, and during filming there was actually a real life Coney Island gang that made filming quite challenging due to the cast wearing the inappropriate colors!

"Warriors....come out to playyyayyyy..."

Image Credit: "The Warriors" (c) 1979 Paramount

We hope you enjoyed our Top 9 Movie Locations to Visit in the USA - if we've missed any of your favorites, make sure you comment below and let us know!

Don't forget to check out our other blogs too HERE!

Until then....get those backs packed because it's lights, camera....ACTION

Main Image Credit: Kualoa Ranch

Lisa Downs Written by
Lisa Downs

Lisa has been a content writer for Family Days Out for nearly 10 years, and a keen travel writer for nearly 20. She loves experiencing the best of a city, discovering the many things to do and immersing herself in the culture, and sharing these experiences with others through her writing.

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