Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, CA
Sure, it’s an obvious choice, but for a reason: it’s the most famous movie theater in the world, thanks to its history, its location, and (most of all) the signatures, hand prints, and footprints of decades of stars in its concrete. (For the record, its official name these days is the TCL Chinese Theatre, but who the hell wants to call something that?)
Universal Studios Hollywood, Hollywood, CA
Fair warning: Universal’s world-famous studio and theme park is far more the latter than the former. But the rides are awfully fun, and braving those crowds and picture-snapping families is the only way to get a look at the set for the Bates Motel from Psycho, still the park’s coolest feature.
The Hollywood Heritage Museum, Hollywood, CA
Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, you’ll find this silent movie buff’s dream museum — located in the restored Lasky-DeMille Barn, one of the first movie studios (DeMille shot The Squaw Man, the first Hollywood feature, there). Inside is a treasure trove of props, archival photos, documents, and memorabilia from the silent era.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, CA
Hollywood’s always been a pretty ghoulish town, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the final resting place for many of its stars has become not only a tourist attraction, but an outdoor theater. Its residents include Rudolph Valentino, Bugsy Siegel, Tyrone Power, John Huston, Hattie McDaniel, Cecil B. DeMille, Janet Gaynor, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Jr., Peter Lorre, and George Harrison. So pop in some time, check out some crypts and gravestones, and enjoy their occasional screenings and concerts while you’re there.
“Last Remaining Seats” Tour, Los Angeles, CA
Every summer, the Los Angeles Conservancy hosts this series of screenings to raise funds and awareness of area movie theaters that have fallen into disuse and disrepair, in which classic films and live events are presented in vintage theaters. And some of them have interest of their own — like the Los Angeles Theater, where the movie theater scenes for Fight Club were shot.
The Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, CA
There are certain locations in both Los Angeles and New York where you can simply go and marvel in the sheer volume of films shot there, and the Biltmore is one of them: you’ll recognize it in Chinatown, Beverly Hills Cop, Bachelor Party, True Lies, Dave, Ocean’s 11, The Nutty Professor, Fight Club… the list goes on and on. But I’d recommend enjoying at drink in the hotel’s Crystal Ballroom, where Michelle Pfeiffer put on a velvet dress and sang “Makin’ Whoopee” from atop Jeff Bridges’ piano in The Fabulous Baker Boys.
Orange Grove Avenue, Hollywood, CA
The most famous block in horror movie history wasn’t in Haddonfield, Illinois, as the film claimed, but right in Hollywood, California. That’s where John Carpenter, Jamie Lee Curtis, P.J. Soles, and Nancy Loomis went to shoot Halloween, and the houses where they had their night of terror still stand on Orange Grove Avenue, just north of Sunset Boulevard: the Doyle house, where Laurie Strode was babysitting, sits at 1530, and the Wallace house (where Annie was babysitting) is right across the way at 1537. And here’s a horror bonus: just a couple of blocks away, in the 1400 block of North Genesse Avenue, you’ll find the houses where Johnny Depp and Heather Langenkamp’s characters lived in the original Nightmare on Elm Street.
Hermosa Beach Community Center, Hermosa Beach, CA
The website for this community center trumpets its classes and activities, but here’s why it’s worth a visit if you’re ever in the neighborhood: this is where Brian De Palma shot much of his horror classic Carrie. It had just closed its doors as the Pier Avenue Junior High when De Palma and crew took it over, shooting all of the high school scenes there — including the locker room opening and the school dance climax.
The Nido Apartments, Hollywood, CA
Sadly, the mansion of Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s classic Sunset Blvd. is no more — it was demolished in 1957. But the less showy home of writer Joe Gillis (William Holden) still stands; the Nido Apartments are open to all would-be scribes at 1851 North Ivar Street in Hollywood.
The Gamble House, Pasadena, CA
This historical landmark was originally built as a winter home for David B. Gamble of Proctor & Gamble. But that’s probably not why you recognize it: it was also used as Emmett “Doc” Brown’s house in the original Back to the Future.
Sherman Oaks Galleria, Sherman Oaks, CA
Laugh all you want, but the Galleria is a cultural touchstone — it was the first big California mega-mall, and the birthplace of the mall culture that went mainstream and national with Frank Zappa’s song “Valley Girl.” But most of the country got its first look at the mall in the teen classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High, as the place where Stacy, Linda, and Mark earned minimum wage.
Hotel De Coronado, San Diego, CA
Rumor has it that L. Frank Baum, who frequently wrote at this luxury resort, modeled the Wizard of Oz’s Emerald City after it. That can’t be confirmed, but here’s what can: this San Diego hotel doubled for Miami in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot, making it a great place to don some glasses and talk like Cary Grant.
Pat & Lorraine’s Coffee Shop, Los Angeles, CA
This Eagle Rock diner is beloved for its omelets, biscuits and gravy, and breakfast burritos, but it’s best known as the diner where the opening sequence of Reservoir Dogs was shot. And don’t be a Buscemi — tip your waitress, ya cheap bastard.
Dinah’s Family Restaurant, Culver City, CA
Achievers will be disappointed to discover that astonishingly few of the locations from The Big Lebowski are still standing, even though that film is a mere 15 years old: the Hollywood Lanes where the Dude, Walter, and Donny rolled was demolished in 2002, and Johnie’s Coffee Shop, where Dude and Walter had their conversation about the ease of toe acquisition (and where Mr. Orange met up with his police contact in Reservoir Dogs) closed its doors in 2000. But Dinah’s is still serving up pigs in a blanket and lingonberry pancakes, no matter what your ethos. Watch your toes.
Museum of the Moving Image, Queens, NY
In the early days of motion pictures, the Kaufman Astoria studios in Queens were both busy and convenient — Broadway stars would shoot films there during the day, and cross back over to Manhattan for their evening performances. The studios are still in operation, though they’re used more for television than film these days. But the golden age of the East Coast’s Hollywood lives on in the wonderful Museum of the Moving Image, which boasts a stunning gallery of original movie props and costumes, vintage equipment, and interactive exhibits. And if you’re headed that way before the end of October, you can check out their very cool exhibit of Breaking Bad paraphernalia.
Hook & Ladder 8, New York, NY
This TriBeCa fire station (located on Moore Street between Broadway and Hudson) has no markings which betray its motion picture history, but if fans of 1980s comedy squint hard enough, they can imagine the fire trucks that still roll out of its doors as white vehicles with sirens on the top and the Ghostbusters logo on the side.
Stuyvesant Avenue between Quincy and Lexington, Brooklyn, NY
When Spike Lee shot Do the Right Thing in the summer of 1988, he insisted that his team find a single block that could match that of the film; he didn’t want to go pasting it together from a bunch of different locations. The block that they found was in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood, which the team took over, building Sal’s Famous Pizzeria and the Korean grocery on vacant lots — and taking them down when the shoot was over. So you can’t exactly stop in at Sal’s for a slice (extra cheese is two dollars), but you can still spot the stoops, corners, and brownstones from Lee’s classic.
Lenny’s Pizza, Brooklyn, NY
But if you’d like to visit a still-standing pizzeria from a Brooklyn favorite, head over to 1969 86th Street in Bay Ridge, where John Travolta stopped in for a slice to go in the opening minutes of Saturday Night Fever. And as long as you’re there, might as well strut down 86th to the sounds of the Bee Gees.
Stillwell Avenue/62nd Street Station, Brooklyn, NY
If you find yourself driving through Brooklyn rather than walking, you can replicate the famous car/subway chase from The French Connection by taking Stillwell Avenue, under the elevated tracks from Bay 50th Street to 86th. We’d advise a slightly more sensible rate of speed than Popeye Doyle’s, however — and watch out for baby carriages. That chase came to a conclusion at the 62nd Street D station, where Popeye took out Nicoli on the steps up to the platform.
Holly Golightly’s Apartment, New York, NY
Sure, any Breakfast at Tiffany’s fan can go gaze through the window at Tiffany’s like Holly Golightly. But the hardcore fan will head over to 169 E. 71st Street in Manhattan, the location of Holly’s partially furnished walk-up. Well, the outside of it, anyway — as with many New York films of the time, the exteriors were shot in New York, but the interior was a constructed set on the West Coast.
Sutton Square, New York, NY
The most famous single shot in any Woody Allen film — and the quintessential image of New York cinema — was shot at this cul-de-sac at the end of East 58th Street, facing the Queensboro Bridge, on the Upper East Side. But don’t go looking to replicate Woody and Keaton’s pose in Manhattan; they had to bring their own park bench for the scene, which was shot at five in the morning, and they had to pay the city to leave the bridge’s lights on past the sunrise.
Pier 11, New York, NY
The other famous Woody Allen/Diane Keaton waterfront scene, in 1977’s Annie Hall, was shot downtown, at Pier 11 of the South Street Seaport near Wall Street. So take that special someone there, and tell them how much you lurve them.
Carnegie Deli, New York, NY
And one more from the Woody filmography — not like you need a reason to stop in at midtown’s most famous delicatessen. But this was also the location for the wraparound sequences of his classic 1984 comedy Broadway Danny Rose, inspired by Woody’s own late-night sessions, hanging out with other comics and telling their favorite showbiz stories.
Katz’s Delicatessen, New York, NY
Of if you’d rather head downtown for a sandwich and a laugh, your best bet is Katz’s. Not only are the sandwiches irresistible, but this is where Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal, and Meg Ryan shot the classic “faked orgasm” scene in When Harry Met Sally. Their table is helpfully marked with a sign, so grab a seat and have what she’s having.
The Tenenbaum House, New York, NY
Situated adjacent to the Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill neighborhoods at 144th Street and Convent Avenue is the sprawling dwelling that The Royal Tenenbaums called home. It’s not open to the public, but the view from the street is still pretty great, and who knows — maybe you’ll worm your way in, Eli Cash-style.
Foxwoods Theater, New York, NY
Maybe it’s just the perverse thrill that this New Yorker gets from knowing what Times Square used to be, but if you ever find yourself in this Broadway venue on 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenue, enjoying the family matinee of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, just stop for a moment and think about how this used to be the Lyric Theatre — the porno house where Robert De Niro took Cybill Shepard on their unfortunate date in Taxi Driver.
128 Mott Street, New York, NY
The address will take you to a doctor’s office. But the street in front of it, dressed as it was in 1945, is where the attempted murder of Don Vito Corleone was shot for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 classic The Godfather. What was once Little Italy is now Chinatown, but no worries; you can step across the street to one of the neighborhood’s fruit stands, and if you care to tempt fate, you can grab a couple of oranges.
Music Box Theatre, Chicago, IL
The Music Box is one of the best movie theaters in the country, which is reason enough to pay it a visit. But if you’re a High Fidelity fan, there’s an added bonus: this is the theater where Rob and ex-girlfriend and film critic Penny go to see The Dreamlife of Angels. No light-up pens, please.
The Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL
Planning an illicit rendezvous while in the Windy City? Then go with the Drake Hotel, where Tom Cruise met up with Rebecca De Mornay in the Chicago classic Risky Business. It’s also where Julia Roberts stayed in My Best Friend’s Wedding, but warning: no smoking in the hallways.
Shelly’s Loan & Jewelry Company, Chicago, IL
It’s impossible to think about movies and Chicago without thinking of The Blues Brothers, but sadly, many of that film’s key locations (the Dixie Mall, Chez Paul restaurant, Nate’s Deli aka Aretha Franklin’s soul food restaurant) are no more. But one that remains is this pawnshop, run by Ray Charles in the film and home to the irresistible “Shake Your Tail Feather” number.
Glenbrook North High School, Northbrook, IL; Maine North High School, Des Plaines, Illinois
As Jay and Silent Bob discovered in Dogma, Shermer, Illinois is a place that exists only in the imagination of John Hughes. The films that took place there were shot in a variety of Chicago-area locations, but the most interesting are these two suburban high schools, which were both used for various scenes in The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Royal Victorian Manor, Woodstock, IL
Everybody knows that the Bill Murray/Harold Ramis comedy classic Groundhog Day takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. But the film was shot close to their occasional home of Chicago, in the city of Woodstock, 51 miles northwest. The Royal Victorian is the working bed and breakfast that doubled as Punxsutawney’s Cherry Street Inn. Rooms run from $125 to $175 a night; presumably, the smashed alarm clock costs extra.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
It is, of course, a fine museum with a remarkable collection of painting, sculpture, and photography from all over the world, blah blah blah. But you know why it’s on this list: because of the Rocky steps. And no, you’re not too cool to run up them.
“Lord of the Rings” Tours, Queenstown, NZ
When Peter Jackson decided to transform his home country of New Zealand into Middle Earth for his epic adaptation of the Lord of the Rings books, he had no idea the kind of tourism boost he was giving his fellow Kiwis. Now Tolkien fans from all over the world flock to New Zealand to retrace the many, many footsteps of Frodo, Samwise, Aragorn, and the rest.
The London Film Museum, London, England
This comparatively new movie museum has a marvelous array of original props, sets, and costumes — including the meteor from Superman, Bond stuff galore, and new exhibits of memorabilia from the collections of Ray Harryhausen and Charles Chaplin.
The Town of Wells, Somerset, England
The village of Sanford, where supercop Nicholas Angel is reassigned only to discover a nefarious explanation for the hamlet’s utter pleasantness, is a fictional place created for the action comedy Hot Fuzz. But if you’re in Glastonbury any time soon, you can take the four-mile drive to Wells in Somerset, the tiny town that doubled for Sanford in the film.
The Cinémathèque Française, Paris, France
World cinema history was made at this incredible film archive in Paris, where Henri Langolis championed film preservation and appreciation from the 1930s forward. French filmmakers from Bresson and Clouzot to Truffaut and Godard logged hours in its screening rooms, which are still in operation, showing a variety of amazing movies from all over the world.
Intercontinental Cannes Hotel, Cannes, French Riviera
The Carlton Cannes provides some of the most desirable accommodations during the annual Cannes Film Festival. But if you’re there at any time of year, it’s worth dropping in to relive the elegance of Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief; it’s the hotel where Grace Kelly and her mother stayed in that wonderful romantic caper.
Sidi Driss Hotel, Matmata, Tunisia
Being a true fan means going to the ends of the earth sometimes — and that’s exactly what some hardcore Star Wars fans have done, traveling to this underground hotel in Tunisia, which George Lucas used as the location of Luke Skywalker’s subterranean home in the original, 1977 installment of the series.
Mountain Lake Resort, Pembroke, VA
The 1988 hit Dirty Dancing was set in a Catskills mountain resort, but it wasn’t shot there — it was filmed at this Virginia destination, and its dining room and gazebos are basically as they were during production. So book a trip and learn the lift, but whatever you do, don’t put Baby in the corner.
The Cottage at the Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC
The largest privately owned house in the United States was opened to the public in 1930 and remains a popular tourist attraction — and movie location. Scenes from Being There, Forrest Gump, Richie Rich, My Fellow Americans, and Hannibal were all shot there, and its cottage was the location for the proposal scene in Michael Mann’s Last of the Mohicans.
Crystal Cove State Park Cottages, Newport Beach, CA
It ain’t high art, but plenty of movi.egoers have awfully fond feelings about the Bette Midler/Barbara Hershey tearjerker classic Beaches. If you’re planning far enough in advance (it reportedly books up seven months out), you and your best childhood pal can reserve Cabin #13, and relive Hershey biting the dust all over again
Devil’s Tower National Monument, Wyoming
This natural marvel in the Black Hills of Wyoming is an astonishing bit of geographical wonder — so much so that Steven Spielberg figured it was where aliens would want to land and interact in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so come late at night and bring your Casio.
Goulding’s Lodge, Monument Valley, UT
Monument Valley was a favorite location of Hollywood legend John Ford, who shot Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine, The Searchers, and other classic Westerns there. It’s also popped up in every road movie from Easy Rider to National Lampoon’s Vacation, the go-to image of the American West. Goulding’s offers spectacular views and several tours of the area.
The Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, NM
Whether you’re looking to hang out with your friends, help birth a calf, or get intimidated by Jack Palance, you can relive the full City Slickers experience at this “education and retreat center” where Billy Crystal and company shot their 1991 hit.
The “Field of Dreams,” Dyersville, IA
“If you build it, they will come,” the message went, and amazingly enough, that’s what happened both on and off-screen. The farm in Dyersville, Iowa (25 miles of west of Dubuque) where Field of Dreams was shot became a tourist attraction purely by accident — people just started showing up, much as they do in the film. It now draws over 55,000 visitors a year.
Pines Resort, Bass Lake, CA
You’d have to be a pretty serious fan of The Great Outdoors to head all the way out to this California resort, which stood in for Wisconsin in the 1988 John Candy/Dan Aykroyd comedy. But folks have taken more extreme measures in the name of John Hughes.
Dorothy’s House, Liberal, KS
Take it from this Kansas native: most of us would love if you didn’t always have to remind us of The Wizard of Oz, and treat us to your “We’re not in Kansas anymore” bullshit. But not everyone in the Sunflower State feels that way, so if you’re traveling through and would like to get a fix of Dorothy and Auntie Em, the town of Liberal declared itself Dorothy’s home, and built a house/museum accordingly.
Joseph A. Sylvia State Beach, Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Likewise, the folks on Martha’s Vineyard would probably rather be known as a quiet getaway than as the shooting location for Steven Spielberg’s horror classic Jaws. But if you’d like to make a shark-centered visit, Sylvia State Beach is where Spielberg shot the beach sequence, culminating in the death of the Kittner boy.
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO
Stephen King has said that his novel The Shining was inspired by a stay at this expansive Colorado hotel the night before it closed for the season — right down to the haunted room (where King and his wife stayed, of course). Kubrick shot most of the film version on sets in England and used the Timberline Lodge in Mount Hood, Oregon for his exterior shots, and you could certainly stay there if you’d like to be a stickler. But the Stanley sounds like the creepier location to me.
Special thanks to the invaluable Movie Locations, On the Set of New York, and Seeing Stars sites for pointing us toward the many shooting locations in this post.