I think it's safe to say that all of us have dreamed of being part of our favorite movies. I mean, who wouldn't want to victoriously run up hundreds of steps to "Gonna Fly Now," walk through a fabulous hotel lobby like a boss or skip around the Shire alongside your favorite hobbits?
Here's the good news: All of that (and more) is possible because though our favorite movies seem larger than life, a lot of them were filmed in real-life places that we can visit. Here are just a few of those places that you need to put on your travel bucket list.
1) Christ Church College (Oxford, England)
Attention wannabe witches and wizards: I have great news. Although I can’t make any promises that you’ll get your acceptance letters any time soon, I can promise you that Hogwarts, (well, some of it that is), is a real place. Several locations within the 16th Century Christ Church College in Oxford, England, appear in the "Harry Potter" series, including the staircase which leads Hogwarts students to the Great Hall. Visitors of the college will also notice that Christ Church’s Great Hall and Hogwarts dining hall are nearly identical – the film’s directors and designers based the Great Hall on this dining room.
2) Dubuque County (Iowa):
“Is this Heaven?”
“Could have sworn it was Heaven.”
In 1989, Universal Studios transformed 193 acres of Iowa farmland into something truly majestic; the "Field of Dreams." In the film, Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) follows the advice of a mysterious voice and risks everything to build the Dyersville baseball field that becomes the home base (no pun intended) of the ghosts of baseball legends past, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Over 25 years have passed since the release of the film, but Terrance Mann’s (James Earl Jones) prediction that “People will come” was right; over 1 million fans have come to the field since the release of the movie, and you can too.
3) Salzburg (Austria)
The hills of Salzburg will forever be alive, thanks to unforgettable 1964 film The Sound of Music
. The beloved musical classic was set and filmed in various locations across the Austrian city - including St. Peter’s Cemetery, Leopoldskron Palace and the Benedictine Convent on Nonnberg -- all of which are still open for exploration to adoring fans. Take a "Sound of Music" tour to visit all of the most iconic sites, but don’t blame us when you find yourself skipping and humming “Do-Re-Mi” around the Mirabell Gardens.
4) Martha's Vineyard (Massachusetts)
In 1974, two notes, a quaint Massachusetts island, some boats and a handful of animatronic sharks came together to create the terrifying movie masterpiece, "Jaws." Over 40 years have passed since the filming of Spielberg’s classic, but the town of Amity (actually Martha’s Vineyard) has, in many ways, remained the same. "Jaws" fans should be sure to stop at South Beach, Sylvia State Beach and Segekontacket Pond to see the real-life locations featured in the film.
5) Katz's Deli (New York City)
Katz’s Deli on Houston Street is a landmark in its own right having served sky-high pastrami-on-rye sandwiches to hungry New Yorkers for over 125 years. What many of those hungry New Yorkers don’t know is that Katz’s was also the setting of perhaps the most famous scene in rom-com history, culminating in the famous line “I’ll have what she’s having.” That’s right; "When Harry Met Sally" fans can literally sit and eat in the same booth where Meg Ryan had her famous scene in the 1989 film classic.
6) Matamata (New Zealand)
In 2001, hobbit fans across the world watched in awe as the magical land of Middle-Earth was brought to life in "The Lord of the Rings." New Zealand native and director Peter Jackson filmed the record-breaking, three-part series exclusively across the gorgeous landscapes of his homeland, including in the picturesque village of Matamata on the North Island. Today, fans can walk like hobbits among the quaint thatched cottages, small round doors, flowery meadows and peaceful streams that made up our favorite hobbits’ home town, The Shire.
7) The Regent Beverly Wilshire (Los Angeles)
At the end of Rodeo Drive in the heart of Beverly Hills, the landmark Regent Beverly Wilshire has seen the likes of Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty and President Obama, but any true film-fan would know the property as being the place where Julia Roberts gets a taste of the finer things in "Pretty Woman."
The 1990 romance was filmed in locations across LA, but most of the film was set in this iconic hotel. Devout fans should also check out the far less glamorous, but equally as iconic Las Palmas Hotel, the setting of Vivian’s apartment and the spot where Edward heroically climbs the fire escape to the music of Traviata.
8) Tabernas Desert (Spain)
Nothing evokes collective American nostalgia quite like stories of the Wild West, which is why Hollywood produced over 600 films about it in the era of spaghetti westerns. Ironically, over 200 of these films weren’t actually staged in the American West, but in an arid desert in the province of Almeria, Spain. So, if you’re a fan of Clint Eastwood’s and Henry Fonda’s mean-muggin’ and gun-slingin’ in films like "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," "For a Few More Dollars" and "Once Upon a Time in the West," you should visit the abandoned sets from these films that still stand in the Tabernas Desert.
9) The Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia)
There are few montages in movie history as epic as the one that culminates in Rocky “The Italian Stallion” Balboa successfully running up the stairs to the legendary track “Gonna Fly Now.” Luckily, "Rocky" fans can relive the classic scene on their own during a visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, though be warned -- Rocky had to train pretty hard to make it all the way up. Epic music and supportive townspeople not included.
10) Hotel Sidi Driss (Matama, Tunisia)
Why would anyone want to go to an ancient hotel in the Tunisian desert? Two words: "Star Wars." The Hotel Sidi Driss (a.k.a. the Star Wars Hotel) has been around for centuries and has enjoyed an incredible rise in business since its starring role as Luke Skywalker’s home in "Episode IV: A New Hope." Although few props remain except for some frames and frescos on the dining room ceiling, visitors are able to sit in the same dining room that the Lars family used in a “Galaxy far, far away.”
Lead photo by f11photo