While CGI technology or closed sound stage productions have grown in leaps and bounds, there is simply no substitute for the real stuff. Filmmakers spend a long time scouting perfect locations to best reflect and complement the script and interpret the story. Here are some of the most important Hollywood filming locations that have created movie magic in the past.
Also Read: 22 Fictional Places You Can Actually Visit!
Check Out These Incredible Hollywood Filming Locations That You Might Want To Add To Your Bucket List
1. Jurassic Park—Hanapepe Valley, Kauai, Hawaii
Some parts of Jurassic Park, directed by one of the most legendary directors of all time, Steven Spielberg were shot on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. The scenes featuring the helicopter rides and waterfalls took place at Manawaiopuna Falls (also known as Jurassic Falls) located in Hanapepe Valley near the Na Pali Coast. Though many of the locations of the island are inaccessible to tourists, helicopter rides are available, to land on the very secluded and private falls so tourists can explore and take photos. With a humid climate and lush rainforests, Kauai is the most private of islands in Hawaii with 80 per cent of the land lying uninhabited by humans.
2. Harry Potter—Christ Church College, Oxford, UK
While we are still waiting for our Hogwarts’ letter, we can keep the magic alive by travelling to where the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was imagined. Christ Church College in Oxford was used for the fictional school’s stone staircase, and its design of the dining hall inspired Hogwarts’ Great Hall. The exterior shots of the Cathedral were taken as the basis for Hogwarts.
3. Jaws—Martha’s Vineyard, US
Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts was used as a filming location to shoot the fictional resort town of Amity Island in Spielberg’s 1975 classic ‘Jaws’. This affluent summer colony which is accessible by boat and air only has many locations featured in the film: Joseph Sylvia State Beach is where one of the on-screen shark attacks takes place, while Amity Gazette Building in Edgartown is home to landmarks including the Jaws Bridge (officially the American Legion Memorial Bridge).
4. Lord Of The Rings—Matamata, New Zealand
A majority of JR Tolkien’s ‘Lord Of The Rings’ movies have been filmed in New Zealand over many years. The sets used for Hobbiton in the Shire for both ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ trilogies remain intact just outside the country’s picturesque rural village, Matamata. These Hollywood filming locations, situated in the heart of Waikato region (North Island), whisks you away to Middle Earth, with its tiny houses, gardens with perfectly manicured hedges, and a functioning pub at The Green Dragon Inn. Don’t forget to visit Bilbo Baggins’ house at Bag End!
5. The Beach—Ko Phi Phi Leh, Thailand
The island of Ko Phi Phi Leh is an island of the Phi Phi Archipelago, in the Strait of Malacca in Thailand. When it comes to Hollywood filming locations it can’t get more idyllic than this. This paradise-like island with its sugar-soft white sand and translucent sea framed by glorious mountains was the filming location of Alex Garland’s novel-turned film ‘The Beach’. The island received massive popularity due to the movie and visitors flocked here in droves which led to environmental concerns. Two decades later in July 2018, Phi Phi Leh Island’s main beach Hat Maya was closed, as there was an undeniable case of over-tourism wreaking havoc. However, you can still visit other Phi Phi Islands for their beauty and glorious Thai scenery.
Also Read: Top 7 Islands In Thailand You Must Visit
6. Ghostbusters—Hook & Ladder Company 8 Firehouse, New York, US
Get ready to catch some ghosts from the Ghostbusters’ New York City headquarters, which is the Tribeca firehouse Hook and Ladder Company 8 in New York. The fire-station was featured in the ‘Ghostbusters’ movies, but was originally constructed in 1903 and has remained in operation through the years. While the exterior of the HQ is in New York, the interior was filmed in another firehouse in Los Angeles that was decommissioned in 1960 and declared a historic-cultural monument by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission. You can still visit the Hook and Ladder 8 Fire Station in New York to follow the steps of our three oddball parapsychologists, but be mindful of fast-paced, on-duty vehicles.
7. Forrest Gump—Savannah, USA
With a narrative that has turned the hardest of hearts into a puddle, ‘Forrest Gump’ opens with the protagonist recounting the early years of his life while sitting at a bus stop bench. The park bench is located in Chippewa Square, Savannah, Georgia, where you can get a real taste of Forrest Gump’s version of American history. There are many other Hollywood filming locations featured in this movie which include parts of South and North Carolina as well as Virginia.
8. The Shining—Timberline Lodge, Oregon, US
Horror fans prepare to enter the creepy Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ through the Timberline Lodge in northern Oregon. The lodge was used as a filming location for the exterior shots while the Ahwahnee Hotel in California was the inspiration for the interiors in this psychological horror movie. Perched at an elevation of 6,000 feet in Mount Hood National Forest, the lodge is open to visitors.
9. Amityville Horror—Amityville, New York, US
Going further with the horror theme, if Timberline Lodge didn’t scare you to bits, we have another ‘Amityville Horror’. Located 30 miles outside New York City, this Hollywood filming location is known as one of the scariest places in America. ‘Amityville Horror’ based on a novel by Jay Anson, tells the story of the Lutz family who move into a Dutch Colonial-style house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville but last only 28 days before leaving it. They were allegedly tormented by ghosts of the victims of Ronald DeFeo Jr, who murdered his six family members there in 1974. The house that was featured in the 1979 film is located at 18 Brooks Road in Toms River, New Jersey, while the 2005 remake featured the home at 27618 Silver Lake Road in Salem, Wisconsin.
10. Argo—Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey
Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning film ‘Argo’ was shot in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s oldest covered markets still in operation today. While in the movie the story took place in Iran, due to the difficulty of shooting there, the filmmakers had to use the chaotic, colourful bazaars and crowded streets of Istanbul as a substitute. Visit this Hollywood filming location which is incidentally the first-ever shopping mall ever built.
11. Avatar—Hawaii, US
A mindblowing mix of live-action and CGI sequences might’ve made ‘Avatar’ one of the biggest Oscar winners. But, you will be surprised to find out that the filmmakers shot the non-CGI scenes predominantly at Kauai’s Keahua Arboretum, a nature preserve surrounding the Wailua river. Set within a rainforest, the movie also had shots from the Hāmākua Coast on the big island of Hawaii. This filming location can be accessed by car.
12. The Dark Knight Rises—Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, India
During Bruce Wayne’s (aka Batman) training as he successfully escapes the depths of a dingy underground prison, he is confronted by the sight of the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort. This behemoth of a palace dates back to the 15th-century, and is perched 400 feet above the city of Jodhpur and is now transformed into a museum. This grand palace makes a suitably terrifying setting for the “pit” that once held the indomitable Bane. To film the scenes inside the prison, Chand Baori was picked as the Hollywood filming location. It is an even more isolated spot which is around eight hours away from the city.
Also Read: Why Is Rajasthani Culture So Fascinating?
13. Mamma Mia!—Skiathos, Greece
The toe-tapping sing-along rhythmic extravaganza that is ‘Mamma Mia!’ was shot amongst the simple white houses and gorgeous ocean views of Skiathos town, Greece. This beautiful filming location is situated on the small Greek island of Skiathos in the Aegean Sea and it served as the backdrop for most of this 2008 star-studded movie. Other than sunshine and tavernas, the island boasts more than 50 beaches.
14. The Godfather—Savoca, Italy
In the ultimate gangster movie series, ‘The Godfather’, the Corleone family hailed from the town of Corleone in Sicily. But, the filmmakers chose to shoot the classic gangster film in the nearby villages of Savoca and Forza d’Agro, near Taormina due to Corleone’s overdeveloped look. Hidden away in the hills of Santa Teresa di Riva, Savoca is a tiny village just eight km long, with less than 2,000 people living there. The medieval village offers a deep blue sky, gated walls, rustic stone cottages, and haunting churches that will make you believe you are actually in the movie.
15. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider The Cradle Of Life— Angkor Thom, Cambodia
The kick-ass video game franchise Lara Croft adapted as ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider—The Cradle of Life’ was largely shot in Cambodia, in the beautiful temple complex of Angkor Thom. You can follow the steps of the highly intelligent and athletic English archaeologist Lara Croft, and travel on your own Illuminati-thwarting mission, and find yourself in the 12th-century Bayon temple in the last city of the Khmer Empire Angkor Thom. The temple with its sea of over 200 massive stone faces was built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII as part of a massive expansion of his capital Angkor Thom.
Also Read: 11 Of The Best Things To See In Cambodia
16. Rocky—Philadelphia Museum Of Art, Pennsylvania, USA
Remember Rocky training on the steps in Philadelphia while ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ plays in the background? You can climb the very same steps outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, now known as the “Rocky Steps”. These are the 72 iconic stone steps that lead up to the museum entrance, where Sylvester Stallone shot his iconic training scene from the 1976 film ‘Rocky’. Admission to the museum might need a ticket but jogging up the steps is free.
17. Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade—Al Khazneh, Jordan
Al Khazneh, the treasury at the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, stood in for the temple that housed the Holy Grail in the action-packed adventure film ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’. The ancient city of Petra is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is also known as Rose City. This historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan will live up to its hype with its honeycomb maze of hand-hewn caves, temples, and tombs carved from blush pink sandstone.
18. Home Alone—The McCallister Home, Winnetka, Illinois, USA
Remember the house that Kevin McCallister so expertly defends from the Wet Bandits with his one too many booby traps in the popular Christmas film ‘Home Alone’? The iconic Georgian house is actually located in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka. This Hollywood location was sold in 2012 for over $1.58 million after being on the market for about a year.
19. Shawshank Redemption—Ohio State Reformatory, Ohio, USA
This majestic building is one of the most famous Hollywood shooting locations. In Mansfield, the Ohio State Reformatory is a historic prison. It operated for almost a century until 1990, when a United States Federal Court ruling ordered the facility to be closed, just a few years before the filming of the classic ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. Today, this impressive movie location also provides Shawshank tours through most of the year.
20. X-Men Series—Hatley Castle, Canada
There have been many movies and shows that have been filmed at Hatley Castle but it is best known as being home to Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in the ‘X-Men’ series of movies. The castle’s exterior has been used for ‘X-Men 2’, ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ and, most recently, ‘Deadpool’ as well. However, in real life, this famous movie location is the administrative centre for the Royal Roads University, but is open for paid tours for five days of the week.
Visit These Movie Locations To Experience Some Movie Magic For Yourself
Plan an adventure straight out of movie screens in these stunning Hollywood filming locations. Be a true fan by visiting all these sites from enchanting castles like in Harry Potter to a completely foreign planet like Avatar. While we may not be in the world these movies feature we can always imagine ourselves as a part of it while visiting some of these incredible locations. Let us know about if you’ve visited any of these Hollywood filming locations in the comments section below!