As a huge movie buff, one of my favourite pastimes is visiting popular locations for movies. I was going to discuss Netflix’s latest show, 3 Percent, a Hunger Games-esque thriller that was shot in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but I have decided to postpone it for another day. Being home to the world’s most famous movie industry, the United States is a rich haven of movie locations.
Before you tuck in your cameras and lace up your backpacks, ensure you have your ESTA in place if you are a citizen of one of the countries in the Visa Waiver Programme. This is a permit that allows you travel to the United States. More info here
Failure to get an ESTA authorization can have you delayed upon arrival, or even sent back to your country of departure by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. You don’t want that to happen, especially when you are so close to The Empire State Building, where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan met in ‘Sleepless in Seattle’.
If you have an ESTA already, then start up on your trip to the following locations:
- Caldecott Tunnel, San Francisco (THX 1138)
If you are a George Lucas fan, you’ll want to visit the Caldecott Tunnel in San Francisco, which was the scene for the famous chase scene between THX and the antagonists. THX 1138 is George Lucas’ big screen directorial debut, about a dystopian future.
Most of the scenes were shot in San Francisco, especially the end that was done in the yet-unfinished Transbay tube. Today, the tube is used by the Bay Area Rapid Transit to convey commuters between Oakland and San Francisco. You’ll love every bit of the journey through the semi-dark tunnel.
- Marin County Civic Centre, California (Gattaca)
Gattaca is a 1997 futuristic movie where eugenics is legal. In it, Ethan Hawke plays a genetically ‘inferior’ man who assumes the identity of a superior man to fulfil his lifelong dream of space travel. The brilliant sci-fi interiors of the building in the movie are really the Marin County Civic Centre in San Rafael, California.
The iconic building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the revolutionary architects of his time. The Civic Centre was also used in the movies THX 1138 and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. So, you’ll actually be visiting the movie location for 3 popular movies!
- Marriot Marquis Hotel, Atlanta (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire)
Moving to more recent movies, the Marriot Marquis Hotel at Peachtree Centre Avenue in Atlanta was the location for the posh Tributes’ Quarters and Training Centre. This was where teen heroine, Katniss Everdeen practiced archery shots with her adversaries in yet another dystopian movie, The Hunger Games.
This hotel’s gigantic atrium, once the biggest in the world, was chosen as the location for the movie. The 10th floor was the filming location for the Tributes’ living quarters, and the movie crew built a set on the hotel roof. Just for fun, take a ride in the elegant glass elevator and do the three-finger salute.
- Royal Victorian Manor, Illinois (Groundhog Day)
Groundhog Day is still one of my favourite movies of all time. If you ever wondered what it would be like to wake up to the same day every morning, the Royal Victorian Manor may be your closest experience. Although this Bill Murray classic supposedly took place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the Cherry Street Inn (which is actually the Royal Victorian Manor) is located in Woodstock, Illinois.
The town also hosts its own Groundhog Day annually, where fans and tourists can experience the movie with other interesting events, including a two-night stay at the Manor. Who knows, you might experience your own day loop.
- The Awahnee Hotel, Yosemite National Park and The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park (The Shining)
If you are up for some scare, visit the The Awahnee Hotel and The Stanley Hotel, in Yosemite National Park and Estes Park Colorado respectively. Both hotels were formed the inspiration of Stephen King’s psychological horror film, The Shining. The movie about a hotel manager (played by Jack Nicholson) who is possessed by a murderous spirit has been a cult favourite for decades.
Stanley Kubrick shot most of the hotel scenes in EMI Elstree studios, England, but the set décor was designed to the interior of both hotels. You can spend the night in any of the hotels and scare yourself silly. But remember, whatever you do, don’t enter room 237, unless you want to end up like Jack.