Throughout my life, books and movies have inspired many of my travels. Mark Twain’s description of the muddy Mississippi compelled me to head to the river shore and gaze across its wide expanse. William Faulkner’s detailed prose made me curious to explore the real state of Mississippi and imagine his fictional Yoknapatawpha County. Similarly, movie images of urban areas from Boston to Berlin were motivation to see the cities for myself. And what Austen or Bronte fan hasn’t pictured themselves amongst the English peaks and moors?
While film-inspired “location vacations” are growing in popularity, I have never traveled specifically to find a spot where a movie was filmed or a favorite chapter takes place. That’s all about to change, thanks in part to a previously-planned tour of the Pacific Northwest and our daughter’s fascination with the Twilight books and movie.
For weeks, we have been working to nail down the details of our summer trek through Washington, British Columbia and Oregon, from which Seattle will serve as a base camp of sorts. While I know that the our three girls are curious to see the Pacific Ocean, the great forests and mountains, and the Columbia River Gorge, nothing grabbed my eldest’s attention better than the realization that we would be within a three-hour drive of the small town of Forks, Wash. in which the Twilight story takes place.
Once she realized how “close” we were going to be, she began lobbying relentlessly to have Forks included on the itinerary. Seriously, if she were a few years older, this child could be working on K Street in DC. At the very least, she should have a job waiting for her at the Forks Chamber of Commerce.
Ultimately, time and the remoteness of the small town compared to our other stops, have crossed Forks off the list of final destinations. However, our Twilight-mad daughter still hit the good fortune mother lode. While the books take place in Forks, the first movie was filmed primarily in Oregon. Many of the film sites are in the same area we are planning to stay. The second movie is currently being filmed in Vancouver, another one of our original destinations. She will be able to see the buildings and landscapes where some of her favorite scenes were shot – and we can more easily work those stops into our jam-packed schedule.
Twilight fans aren’t the first to spur tourism in movie locations– nor will they be the last. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Forrest Gump turned many travelers on to the city of Savannah. Middle Earth may only truly exist in the minds of Tolkien fans, but Lord of the Rings travelers flocked to New Zealand’s Southern Alps to get a glimpse of the breathtaking landscapes from the movie.
Groundhog Day drew many to Punxsutawney, Pa., the setting for the story, and to Woodstock, Ill., the city where the movie was filmed. We actually know friends who made the trip to Woodstock and had a great time recreating their favorite scenes in familiar spots throughout the town.
And when they built the baseball field for the film Field of Dreams, people did come – all the way to Dyersville, Iowa.
Check out this site for a list of some top movie location destinations, including Salzburg, Austria (The Sound of Music), Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. (Jaws) and Manhattan (too many to list). In recent years, our region has begun racking up the movie location credits, from Fried Green Tomatoes’ Whistle Stop Café in tiny Juliette, Ga. to Savannah, Seaside, Fla. (The Truman Show), New Orleans (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and many more.
Are you what Forbes Traveler calls a “set jetter”? Have you ever gone on a movie (or book or TV) tour of a destination? Did the tour or location live up to your expectations? If you could pick one film location for a vacation, where would you go? Does your affinity for the movie itself inspire you to travel or is it the scenery or city that makes you want to go?