Below are the top movie destinations visited. I actually ranked them this time!
This location isn’t as special as others on this list, since it is pretty much everywhere in the city. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t awesome seeing it, and especially driving these roads. This was one of the few locations where we actually did what the characters in the movie did, kind of.
Angkor just feels like a movie set; other rainforests don’t but this one does. Maybe it’s because of Tomb Raider, a film neither Inna nor I have seen but the location is so iconic we knew it was set here. Or maybe it was Nickelodeon, for when I saw the faces at Bayun I immediately thought of Legends of the Hidden Temple, and there’s no doubt in my mind Angkor was the inspiration for that show.
15. Burj Kalifa
Has there ever been a movie scene that celebrated a location as much as this one? Has there ever been a movie that did it in such a ridiculous yet amazing way? I don’t think so (minus one, which I will get to later), but I do know that visiting this place just made me wonder how they filmed that scene even more.
14. Cliffs of Moher
We always wanted to visit the Cliffs of Moher, not because it was a movie location but because it is amazing. Inna didn’t even know they shot Princess Bride here, but she loves that movie so when I showed her the scene in question, she loved it even more!
13. Devil’s Tower
Is it even possible to visit Devils Tower without thinking of Close Encounters of the Third Kind? I really don’t think so; it’s the one movie location we visited that everyone there seemed to know.
This is another movie neither Inna nor I have seen, but the scene is so famous this location is sometimes referred to as James Bond Floating Market instead of its actual name. After visiting this location, we watched the scene filmed here and they nailed the location (Bond films generally do). Neither Inna nor I enjoyed the scene though because Bond pulls a super douchey and very un-Bond-like move.
Somehow, despite being in California, being in such an incredible movie, and being an amazing site in its own right, neither Inna nor I had ever been to Fort Point. We fixed that on this trip.
We got so lucky visiting Timberline Lodge; we didn’t know it was the hotel used for The Shining and only visited because it was called out on Google Maps. Even more interestingly, later on our roadtrip we visited another Shining location: the Going-to-the-Sun road, which was used as the road in the film that leads to the hotel. Also, not on the trip but while in college I visited the hotel that inspired The Shining; I wonder if there are any more Shining sites in the US?
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to visit the famous New York Public Library reading room, as it was closed for repairs. But we did go in the building and this building, the movie, and the scene in the movie that takes place in this building are all so iconic, we feel that despite not seeing it completely, it still deserves inclusion on this list.
Here’s another location where we did what the characters what the characters did: chat and go for a stroll. Although one of the characters was selling newspapers and we didn’t do that, although I did have the urge to shout out “New York Herald Tribune!” everywhere we went.
7. Schindler sites in Krakow
Almost all of Schindler’s List takes place in Krakow, including the ghetto scenes, the concentration camp, and the factory itself. We visited all of these locations while in the city, some of which they filmed at, most of which they found alternatives.
6. Mt. Rushmore
Remember everything I said about Mission Impossible and Burj Khalifa? Well, Hitchcock did that fifty years prior with Mount Rushmore. This scene was just as celebratory and almost but not quite as ridiculous, but actually, it is probably more ridiculous when you consider the time period it was made in.
There are so many famous delis in New York, how do we choose? Go to the one they shot When Harry Met Sally… in, of course. Decision made simple!
4. Omaha Beach
Technically, they didn’t film this scene at Omaha Beach (they filmed at another beach that resembled it), but since this was a historical event and I went where the event took place, I feel it warrants inclusion on this list. Especially since we can’t do a “top historic destinations where movie scenes weren’t filmed but took place” list because we didn’t visit enough. But this was one of them!
New Zealand famously is the film location of Middle Earth, and we visited several film spots on our roadtrip. Most notable was Mount Ngauruhoe, which was used for Mount Doom, but even more interesting were all the times we were who-knows-where in this country and we commented that the location felt like a scene from Lord of the Rings.
2. Vienna’s Giant Ferris Wheel
Prater, the Giant Ferris Wheel in particular, is arguably the most famous film location in the world. Because of this, there was no way we weren’t visiting, even if it was the end of our trip and it was in expensive Austria and we couldn’t afford to do anything while there.
1. The Odessa Steps
I said Prater was arguably the most famous film location in the world but that’s not true, this location is. Not arguably, definitely. This location is so famous that many people think the massacre depicted in the film actually happened even though it didn’t; the massacre was completely made up by the filmmakers.
Honorable Mentions: the PCH tunnel (The Graduate), Gasworks Park (10 Things I Hate About You), Wallace Idaho (Dante’s Peak), Deadwood (Deadwood), Jamestown (Pocahontas), Robert Gould Shaw Memorial (Glory), the National Mall (so many things), everywhere in NYC/Paris/Bangkok (so many things), the Great Barrier Reef (Finding Nemo), several other places in New Zealand (Lord of the Rings), the Killing Fields (The Killing Fields), Main Square Krakow (The Double Life of Veronique), Orava Castle (Nosferatu), and probably lots more that we don’t even know.