Star Wars: This is where you can see the Mayan temple ruins that served as the Massassi Outpost on Yavin’s fourth moon. This is one of the largest excavated sites in South America and has remains from the Mayan civilization. It’s been a national park since 1955, a World Heritage Site since 1979, and spans 576 square kilometers of jungle habitat.
Groundhog Day: Although Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is the famous place for groundhogs seeing their shadow and whatnot, much of the film was shot about an hour west of Chicago in Woodstock, Illinois. The town celebrates its own Groundhog Day festival every February 2nd that attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year.
127 Hours: Even people who haven’t seen 127 Hours have heard about the epic, ultra-intense self-amputation scene in this moving. This 2010 movie is about a solo hiker that gets himself into an impossible situation, which is based on the real life story of Aron Ralson in Blue John Canyon. To get to the actual site where the climber was pinned down, you’ll need to hike 10+ miles over rough terrain.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: Lots of films have been made in Savannah, so it’s a wonderful place to visit for film buffs of all backgrounds. One local favorite here is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which is the 1997 cult classic starring Kevin Spacey. One of the best places to visit to relive the film is the Bonaventure Cemetery, which is a key place in both the movie and the book that preceded it.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Fans of the Pirates movies might be disappointed to learn that most of the movies were not actually filmed in the Caribbean, but Puerto Rico is featured at the beginning and end of On Stranger Tides. Visit Old San Juan to see the Cadiz fort, which is where the old man pulled from the sea reveals that a Fountain of Youth exists!
Lord of the Rings: You don’t have to be a film critic to appreciate the beautiful natural scenery featured in the Lord of the Rings movies. In the films, it’s called “Middle Earth,” but this area is actually a rural village in New Zealand called Matamata. You can visit the Waikato Region on the North Island to experience the mysterious beauty for yourself. Expect to see quaint cottages, flowery meadows, and maybe even a hobbit or two if you’re lucky.
Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Casual fans of the Hunger Games movies might be surprised to learn that Atlanta and the southeast provide many of the film locations for the films. This is where the tributes lived and trained in the movie, and it’s known for having one of the largest atriums in the world with stunning glass elevators.
The Shining: The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado was the original inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in The Shining, but the Timberline Lodge in Oregon’s Mount Hood region was used for shooting its exterior and establishing shots. The lodge was built during the Great Depression and is about 45 minutes east of Portland. Mount Hood is an awesome year-around destination for outdoor enthusiasts who love to hike, mountain bike, and ski.
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Görlitz, Germany served as the film location for the hotel because of its exquisite lobby. Many other scenes were filmed around the historic town of Görlitz, which is located in eastern Germany about 60 miles from Dresden. Görlitzer Warenhaus is actually a department store, and scenes in the film feature its Arabian baths and restaurants.
Harry Potter: This school and cathedral were used in the Harry Potter series because of the 16th century design featured in the staircase, hallways, and dining hall. The architectural features of Christ Church College and Durham Cathedral served as the inspiration for other movie sets throughout England for the film as well.