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10 Top Places That Star in Movies

Live out your own 'La La Land' or 'Rogue One' fantasy in dramatic film locations the world over.

U.S. News & World Report

10 Top Places That Star in Movies

Camera operator with modern professional equipment working during film shooting
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(Getty Images)

Start mapping out a movie-inspired itinerary in these iconic film settings.

Memorable trips and films share a few key attributes: strong visuals, engaging characters and a good backstory. And these days, movie enthusiasts the world over can visit cinematic locations that artfully combine these elements, blending beautiful backdrops and intriguing narratives. Companies like Viator sell guided movie tours in destinations such as Las Vegas, Paris, Rome and Sydney. Film and literature fanatics can spend a week retracing Harry Potter's footsteps through the U.K. or following Frodo across New Zealand. Start planning your own bucket list-worthy trip to alluring destinations that have inspired or served as the backdrop for an Oscar-nominated film.
Los Angeles Sunrise
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(Getty Images)

Los Angeles

Film: "La La Land"

The Oscars are a Hollywood staple, so it likely comes as no surprise that LA has long been a coveted cinematic destination, featuring film locations for 10 best picture winners, including the classic "Gone with the Wind." If you're a fan of "La La Land," the irresistible love song to the boulevards, pool parties and dreams of Hollywood, there are plenty of locations to explore. Travelers who fell for Sebastian and Mia should stop at the Starbucks on the Warner Bros. Studios lot, where their courtship began before making their way to Griffith Observatory or the carpool lane at the Century Freeway interchange with Interstate 110, the location for the film's opening number.
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Start mapping out a movie-inspired itinerary in these iconic film settings.

Memorable trips and films share a few key attributes: strong visuals, engaging characters and a good backstory. And these days, movie enthusiasts the world over can visit cinematic locations that artfully combine these elements, blending beautiful backdrops and intriguing narratives. Companies like Viator sell guided movie tours in destinations such as Las Vegas, Paris, Rome and Sydney. Film and literature fanatics can spend a week retracing Harry Potter's footsteps through the U.K. or following Frodo across New Zealand. Start planning your own bucket list-worthy trip to alluring destinations that have inspired or served as the backdrop for an Oscar-nominated film.

Los Angeles

Film: "La La Land"

The Oscars are a Hollywood staple, so it likely comes as no surprise that LA has long been a coveted cinematic destination, featuring film locations for 10 best picture winners, including the classic "Gone with the Wind." If you're a fan of "La La Land," the irresistible love song to the boulevards, pool parties and dreams of Hollywood, there are plenty of locations to explore. Travelers who fell for Sebastian and Mia should stop at the Starbucks on the Warner Bros. Studios lot, where their courtship began before making their way to Griffith Observatory or the carpool lane at the Century Freeway interchange with Interstate 110, the location for the film's opening number.

Cape Ann, Massachusetts

Film: "Manchester by the Sea"

"Manchester by the Sea" is a drama in which Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) returns to the fishing port of the same name to deal with his brother's sudden death. Filmed entirely on location in Cape Ann, Massachusetts, "Manchester by the Sea" and the area's brooding harbor are augmented by wintry scenes shot in Gloucester, Essex, Rockport, Beverly and Salem that accentuate the sense of loss. More authentic than Amity Island, the fictional setting of the "Jaws" franchise filmed on Martha's Vineyard, these Massachusetts towns provide opportunities to experience the serenity of the sea on whale-watching, fishing, schooner or sightseeing boat tours, offered daily throughout summer.

Paterson, New Jersey

Film: "Paterson"

"Paterson" is director Jim Jarmusch's lyrical story of a bus driver named Paterson (Adam Driver) and his richly observant poetry about daily life in Paterson, a faded city that once inspired the poets William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg. Though the small-town bar where Paterson ties up his dog each night was filmed in Queens, New York, travelers can make their way to New Jersey to admire Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, the waterfall that renews Paterson's faith in the power of art. Plan a film-inspired road trip to visit the home lab of Thomas Edison in West Orange, New Jersey, and his museum and experimental lab at Menlo Park, New Jersey.

Fiji, Samoa and Oahu, Hawaii

Film: "Moana"

In Disney's animated feature "Moana," set in long ago Oceania, a teen uses traditional Polynesian wayfinding skills on a sailing adventure to save her people. The inspiring film settings – Viti Levu and Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park in Fiji; the Alofaaga Blowholes on the lava fields of Samoa; and Moorea and the Teahupo'o surf break in Tahiti – should ride a rising tide in family travel. Youngsters can learn about Oceania at Oahu's Polynesian Cultural Center, see lava fields on Hawaii or visit Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, for story time and a Moana makeup, hair and costume makeover.

Miami

Film: "Moonlight"

A graceful coming-of-age story, "Moonlight" follows Chiron, a young black man struggling with a crack-addicted mother and self-identity in a Miami ghetto. Director Barry Jenkins embraces the city that was backdrop to "Scarface." The film was shot in Liberty City, which visitors can tour from above by following Chiron's ride on the Miami Metromover and Metrorail transit systems to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza station. Meanwhile, Chiron's joyful introduction to the sea was filmed at Virginia Key Beach, a public park with bike trails. And the beach where he finds love is between 21st and 22nd streets off Miami Beach Drive, a quiet corner of bustling South Beach.

The Maldives

Film: "Rogue One"

After the award-winning documentary "The Island President" about government efforts to combat climate change, the Maldives is back in the limelight for another apocalyptic moment in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." The Rebel Alliance forces make their last stand against the Death Star on the verdant tropical island of Scarif, a military base filmed on Berasdhoo Island and Gan, two of 82 islands in the Laamu Atoll. The former is uninhabited; the latter counts among its few hotels the eco-friendly resort Six Senses Laamu. If the final embrace of heroes Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor is any indication, the Maldives' popularity for destination weddings will soar.

Jordan

Film: "Star Wars" series

Jordan has long been a popular film location, from Petra, the star of the two-time Oscar-winning action film "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" to deserts made famous by Academy Award winners "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Argo." Recently, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" used the red rock desert of Wadi Rum's national park to create Jedha, the pilgrimage site for Jedi knights and followers of the Force. Earthly travelers can sleep in Bedouin tent camps, feast on lamb barbecued in the hot sand and ride camels to explore hidden petroglyphs.

Iceland

Film: "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"

Iceland, known among film fans for the acclaimed HBO series "Game of Thrones," features a prominent backdrop in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" as the place where scientist Galen Erso reports to his Death Star commander. The film's location team selected the volcanic beach at Hjörleifshöfði and the caves at Hafursey in Mýrdalssandur for the film's imperial outpost of Eadu. This sparsely populated region of southern Iceland has unique landscapes popular with hikers and adventurers. Plan a trip soon and benefit from cheap flights on low-cost carriers Icelandair and Wow Air.

Liverpool, England

Film: "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"

"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is J.K. Rowling's story of British wizard and "magizoologist" Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who causes chaos when hippogriffs and other beasts escape from his luggage into1940s New York. Shot mainly on sets at the Leavesden studio in Watford, England, the movie is an especial crowd-pleaser for Harry Potter fans. Potterheads should embark on the Warner Bros. Making of Harry Potter tour in London before heading to Liverpool to see the Cunard Building, St. George's Hall, Stanley Dock and other filming locations. If you have some extra days to spare, download the U.K. Film Office's Location Guide and tour the country.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Film: "Star Trek Beyond"

While some sets featured in the film "Star Trek Beyond" were built in Vancouver, the movie's locations are pure Dubai. Fans can spot several of the 900 actual futuristic skyscrapers in the Dubai International Financial Centre and the Jumeirah Lakes Towers development through the visual effects overlay. Start your tour on the 2,700-foot outdoor observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, the skyscraper Tom Cruise scaled in "Mission Impossible: Rogue Protocol." Afterward, cruise through the historic Dubai Creek aboard a wooden dhow, a traditional vessel. What's more, Dubai plays upon its cinematic history at the Dubai Mall Cineplex, which features cinemas that stay open 24/7 during holidays like Eid.
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