It’s no surprise that there’s been a surge in TV-watching and online streaming since March. In fact, time spent watching TV increased in 2020 for the first time in 10 years! But just because you may be cooped up indoors doesn’t mean you can’t go behind the scenes of some of your top binge-worthy TV shows and movies. There are a ton of filming location destinations in the United States, some of which are even safe to visit if you do a “drive-by.”
Explore these filming locations in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago and beyond that you probably didn’t know about from the comfort of your couch or on your next road trip.
Remember that before you book any type of travel, you should always reference the latest coronavirus travel advice as well as local government guidelines.
Atlanta, Georgia: Ozark
Given the name, it’s fair to assume that Ozark – the popular Netflix series about the money-laundering Byrde family – would be filmed in region, right?
Wrong! While featuring sublime scenery from the Ozark region (including Lake of the Ozarks), the series has filming locations mostly in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Start your journey an hour outside of Atlanta and relax by gorgeous Lake Allatoona and Lake Lanier – both of which play starring roles in the show. Superfans can stop for a bite at The Silver Skillet – the vintage diner where Agent Petty chows down in Season 1 – or book a night at Chateau Elan – a luxurious winery and resort 45 minutes north of Atlanta that subs as the estate for the notorious main character, Camino Del Rio.
The Blue Cat Lodge is also real: created from a shuttered bar and grill on Lake Allatoona solely for the show, and now functions in post-production as a restaurant called J.D.’s on the Lake. You can pose for a picture beneath the celebrated blue catfish sign from the series. If you’re hooked, here are more filming locations to visit from Ozark.
New York City: Ghostbusters
A visit to the Big Apple makes for a great filming locations vacation, and one of the most memorable movie franchises shot on location here has to be the Ghostbusters series. Pay homage to the original 1984 paranormal comedy on the steps of the New York Public Library – the iconic Fifth Avenue building where many of the supernatural scenes were filmed. Don’t miss getting a pic beside the marble lions featured in the opening shots.
Walk to Dana Barrett’s (Sigourney Weaver) “Spook Central” apartment building at 55 Central Park West, followed by a subway ride to sit on the steps of Columbia University’s Low Memorial Library – where Venkman (Bill Murray), Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Spengler (Harold Ramis) brainstorm a ghostbusting biz after being fired from the university.
But the showstopper is the 8 Hook and Ladder Firehouse – a working fire station used for the exterior shots of the Ghostbusters headquarters. There’s even a Ghostbusters badge on the sidewalk! It’s certainly a unique way to tour New York City.
Discover more filming locations in New York City at these popular spots from the TV show Seinfeld.
Albuquerque, New Mexico: Breaking Bad
If you’re a Breaking Bad junkie, you can relive all five thrilling seasons by visiting the show’s filming locations in Albuquerque. The city and surrounding desert lands are featured heavily in this award-winning series about a chemistry teacher turned crystal meth cooker. Drive-by Walter White’s family home at 3828 Piermont Drive Northeast, but you’ll see that the current owners put up a fence to deter fans from tossing pizzas onto the roof.
Then, take a trip to the Paradise Square Shopping Center (9800 Montgomery Boulevard Northeast) to see the exterior of sketchy lawyer Saul Goodman’s office, and drop by the Twisters Restaurant (4257 Isleta Boulevard Southwest) for a view of the eatery that doubled as Los Pollos Hermanos – the fast-food joint owned by ruthless drug lord Gus Fring. If the restaurant is open, you can even get a selfie in Walt’s booth. There are countless other filming locations to uncover, which you can explore on this self-guided Breaking Bad tour.
Baltimore, Maryland and Boston: The Social Network
Harvard University plays prominently in The Social Network – the Academy Award-winning drama about the founding of Facebook and the lawsuits that ensue. Even though the film wasn’t permitted to shoot on Harvard’s campus, you can follow this map and explore Harvard Yard, which includes the statue of John Harvard. For an off-campus site that made a cameo, head over to The Thirsty Scholar Pub – a real-life drinking den where you can toast the opening scene that depicts Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) dumping Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg).
To revisit the campus scenes, you’ll have to take a trip to John Hopkins University in Baltimore. The “Kirkland Hall” dorm – where Zuckerberg drunkenly rating girls on “FaceMash” – is actually Latrobe Hall, which is across the quadrangle from Shaffer Hall – the building where Zuckerberg subsequently gets put on probation by Harvard administration.
Los Angeles, California: Clueless
Like Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), you’ll be “totally buggin'” after visiting these IRL filming sites from the 1995 teen comedy classic Clueless. Cher’s opulent Beverly Hills mansion is – gasp! – not located in Beverly Hills but at 5148 Louise Avenue in Encino – a hilariously ironic choice considering Cher’s dislike for “The Valley.”
Other celebrated sites to scope out include Dionne’s house (705 N. Sierra Drive, Beverly Hills), the “Bronson Alcott High School” (actually Occidental College, 1600 Campus Road in Eagle Rock), and the Circus Liquor Parking Lot (5600 Vineland Ave, North Hollywood) where Cher was robbed (look for the ginormous, illuminated clown sign). Like Cher, you can have an epiphany beside the Electric Fountain in the Beverly Hills Garden.
Winnetka, Illinois: Home Alone
If you loved the 1990 Christmas classic Home Alone, take a 30-minute drive north of Chicago to 671 Lincoln Avenue in the suburb of Winnetka, Illinois. Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) booby-trapped this red-bricked majestic mansion to ward off the Wet Bandits, Marv (Daniel Stern) and Harry (Joe Pesci). A visit to this popular house certainly makes for a fun day trip from Chicago.
Dyersville, Iowa: Field of Dreams
Apparently, if you build it, they will come: you can visit the baseball diamond from the acclaimed 1989 sports fantasy drama, Field of Dreams. Although originally built specifically as a filming location for the movie, the owners turned it into a local attraction in Iowa called the All-Star Ballpark Heaven. You can even rent the field for $125/hour and hold your own practice.
Monterrey, California: Big Little Lies
Aside from the gripping storyline and first-rate acting, it’s the sublime scenery of Monterey that makes this acclaimed HBO series so captivating. This region of northern California is arguably one of the most beautiful places in California. Although many of the interior scenes are shot on a set or elsewhere, you can jump in your car and head down the coast to have a “Monterey Five” experience.
Start your Big Little Lies filming locations tour by driving across the Bixby Creek Bridge – a legendary Big Sur landmark that was famous long before Big Little Lies premiered. In the series, the women are constantly driving over this bridge; but in reality, it’s located about 30 minutes away from downtown Monterey on Highway 1. Tip: the road trip is best enjoyed when blasting the show’s theme song, Cold Little Heart.
Many beach jogging scenes were shot at Del Monte Beach, but in Season 2, Carmel River State Beach also makes an appearance. The quaint Blue Blues Café is fictional but is inspired by the very real Paluca Trattoria restaurant located near the historic wharf. Also check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where Jane (Shailene Woodley) works in Season 2.
PS – you can book a stay in Madeline’s beautiful beachfront house, but it’s located in Broad Beach in Malibu and starts at $3,000/night (!).
Charleston, South Carolina: The Notebook
If you’re a romantic, plan a pilgrimage to Charleston, South Carolina to see the filming locations of the 2004 tear-jerker, The Notebook. Start by visiting the American Theater, where Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) watch a Buster Keaton movie. Romantic as it is, avoid the temptation to recreate the couple’s famous “lying in the street scene” at the intersection of King Street and Mary Street. Instead, take a stroll through Cypress Gardens – the 170-acre preserve where Allie and Noah lock lips in the rain.
Other notable sites: “Sarah Lawrence College” is actually the College of Charleston, and you can dine at High Cotton – the restaurant where Noah spots Allie with her fiancé!
The Florida Keys: Bloodline
If you couldn’t get enough of the Netflix thriller Bloodline, get your butt down to the Florida Keys to see where the series was filmed. The Rayburns’ hotel is actually the Blue Charlotte House, part of the Moorings Village and Spa and can be rented for $4,000/night. It’s also here that you’ll find the bombshell beach that appears in every episode (and hot spot for much of family drama).
Real-life bars and restaurants pop up throughout the series: from the Caribbean Club (Danny’s favorite drinking spot and also the filming location of the movie Key Largo) to the Green Turtle Inn (where Meg reveals her affair to her fiancé) to the OceanView Inn & Sports Pub (where Danny gets into a drunken brawl). Scenes were also shot at the notorious tourist trap Robbie’s of Islamorada, and the fratricide scene takes place on the beach at Long Key State Park.
Hawaii: Jurassic Park Series
Sublime sunsets and sun-kissed sands may be the big draw to visit Hawaii, but Jurassic Park fans can also scout out the many filming locations from this blockbuster movie series. On the island of Oahu, the Kualoa Ranch appeared in the first Jurassic Park, and was used to shoot scenes from Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
The best way to relive the series is to take a 2-hour tour of the movie set, which includes seeing the 35-foot walled Indominus Rex pen, the bunker from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and the real deal dinosaur cages. There’s also a stop to the infamous fallen log where Grant and the kids hide from the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. On Kauai, you can take a helicopter tour of Manawaiopuna Waterfall – which served as the helicopter pad in the first movie and has been subsequently dubbed “Jurassic Falls.”
Other memorable filming locations for the series include Allerton Garden (note the giant Moreton Bay Fig Trees from the first movie), Kipu Kai (one of the Lost World beaches that’s reachable via boat or tour), and Makai Research Pier (where the Nublar ferry docks in Jurassic World).
Discover where you can go
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