Embark on a unique cinematic journey across America, exploring the most famous movies filmed in each state. This adventure is not just about the movies themselves but the captivating locations where they were shot. Whether you’re a film buff or a travel enthusiast, these iconic filming locations offer a peek into the heart of each state’s contribution to cinema.
Alabama: Big Fish (2003)
While Forrest Gump is set in Alabama, the whimsical Big Fish was actually filmed there, notably in Montgomery and Wetumpka. Directed by Tim Burton, this fantastical film blends reality and fantasy, mirroring the diverse landscapes of Alabama. Fun fact: The town of Spectre, built as a set on Jackson Lake Island, still stands and has become a popular tourist attraction.
Alaska: Into the Wild (2007)
Although many films are set in Alaska, Into the Wild stands out for actually being filmed in the state’s untamed wilderness. This film, directed by Sean Penn, captures the raw beauty of Alaska, from the bustling streets of Anchorage to the isolated Stampede Trail. Trivia: The iconic bus featured in the movie has since been removed due to safety concerns but remains a symbol of Alaska’s rugged allure.
Arizona: Psycho (1960)
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, a cornerstone of the horror genre, was famously filmed at the Hotel San Carlos in Phoenix, Arizona. The hotel’s vintage charm added to the eerie atmosphere of the film. Interesting fact: Despite being set in California, the iconic shower scene was actually shot in Phoenix.
Arkansas: Sling Blade (1996)
Filmed in Benton, Arkansas, Sling Blade is a profound exploration of the human psyche. The film’s rural Arkansas setting provides a stark, realistic backdrop for the story’s intense emotional journey. Fun fact: Billy Bob Thornton, the film’s star and director, is an Arkansas native, adding authenticity to the film’s portrayal of Southern life.
California: The Graduate (1967)
The Graduate, a classic of American cinema, was largely filmed in California, particularly in Berkeley and Los Angeles. This film not only captures the spirit of the ’60s but also features some of California’s most iconic locations. Trivia: The famous pool scene was shot in a private home in Beverly Hills, which has since become a point of interest for movie tourists.
Colorado: The Shining (1980)
While the story is set in a fictional hotel in the Colorado Rockies, The Shining was actually filmed at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. This location perfectly encapsulated the isolation and eerie ambiance that Stephen King envisioned. Interesting fact: The hotel’s haunting atmosphere inspired King to write the novel, making it a must-visit for fans of the film and book alike.
Connecticut: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Despite its globe-trotting story, parts of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull were filmed in New Haven, Connecticut. The city’s historic Yale University stood in for the fictional Marshall College, where Indy teaches. Trivia: The chase scene filmed at Yale is one of the movie’s most memorable moments, showcasing the university’s iconic architecture.
Delaware: Fight Club (1999)
While not immediately associated with Delaware, Fight Club includes crucial scenes filmed in Wilmington, reflecting the state’s corporate landscape. This film, with its critique of consumerism, ironically used Delaware, known for its business-friendly laws, as a backdrop. Fun fact: The film’s climactic building demolition scene was shot in downtown Wilmington, adding an unexpected edge to the city’s corporate image.
Florida: Moonlight (2016)
Moonlight, filmed entirely in Miami, Florida, is a poignant tale of self-discovery. This Oscar-winning film showcases Miami’s lesser-seen neighborhoods, diverging from the typical portrayal of the city’s glitz and glam. Interesting trivia: The film’s primary location, Liberty City, is the actual childhood neighborhood of both the playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney and the film’s director, Barry Jenkins.
Georgia: Deliverance (1972)
Filmed in the northern Georgia wilderness, Deliverance is renowned for its raw depiction of nature’s ferocity and beauty. The film’s intense river scenes were shot on the Chattooga River, highlighting Georgia’s rugged landscape. Fun fact: The film’s impact was so profound that it led to a surge in interest in whitewater rafting, particularly on the Chattooga River.
Hawaii: Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park, filmed on Kauai, Hawaii, is famous for bringing dinosaurs to life. The lush landscapes of the island perfectly depicted the prehistoric setting of the film. Trivia: The opening helicopter scene with the breathtaking views of the Na Pali Coast has become one of cinema’s most iconic introductions to a fictional world.
Idaho: Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Filmed in the small town of Preston, Idaho, Napoleon Dynamite is a cult classic that captures the quirks of small-town life. Its unique humor and style are as memorable as the state’s landscapes. Fun fact: Many of the film’s locations, like Preston High School, have become popular stops for fans.
Illinois: The Dark Knight (2008)
The Dark Knight transformed Chicago, Illinois, into Gotham City, using the city’s architecture to create a gritty, urban backdrop for this iconic Batman film. Trivia: The film’s famous chase scene was shot on Lower Wacker Drive, one of Chicago’s most recognizable thoroughfares.
Indiana: A Christmas Story (1983)
Although set in Indiana, A Christmas Story was primarily filmed in Cleveland, Ohio. However, the film’s fictional Hohman, Indiana, was based on Hammond, Indiana, author Jean Shepherd’s hometown. Trivia: The house used for exterior shots has been preserved as a museum dedicated to the film.
Iowa: Field of Dreams (1989)
Set and filmed in Dyersville, Iowa, Field of Dreams is a beloved film about baseball and dreams. The movie’s iconic cornfield and baseball diamond, built specifically for the film, have become a tourist attraction. Trivia: The site is still operational and visitors can play baseball on the famous field.
Kansas: In Cold Blood (1967)
Filmed in various locations in Kansas, In Cold Blood is a chilling adaptation of Truman Capote’s true crime novel. The authentic Kansas settings added a stark realism to the film. Trivia: The movie was shot at many of the actual locations where the real-life events occurred, adding to its haunting authenticity.
Kentucky: Goldfinger (1964)
Part of the James Bond series, Goldfinger includes memorable scenes filmed at the Fort Knox army base in Kentucky. This setting was crucial for the film’s famous gold heist plot. Trivia: Despite being a high-security area, the filmmakers were granted unprecedented access to the outer areas of Fort Knox.
Louisiana: 12 Years a Slave (2013)
12 Years a Slave, filmed in various locations around Louisiana, is a powerful depiction of America’s history of slavery. The state’s historic plantations and landscapes provided an authentic backdrop for this harrowing story. Interesting fact: The film’s main plantation scenes were shot at four different plantations to accurately portray the era’s architecture and environment.
Maine: Pet Sematary (1989)
While many of Stephen King’s stories are set in Maine, Pet Sematary was actually filmed there, capturing the state’s eerie, wooded landscapes. Trivia: The film was shot in the towns of Hancock and Bangor, the latter being King’s hometown and inspiration for many of his stories.
Maryland: The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Filmed in Maryland’s Seneca Creek State Park, The Blair Witch Project used its natural setting to create an atmosphere of terror and mystery. This groundbreaking film popularized the found footage genre. Fun fact: The film’s marketing campaign used the park’s lore to enhance the story’s believability, making it a landmark location for horror enthusiasts.
Massachusetts: Good Will Hunting (1997)
Set and filmed in various locations around Boston, Massachusetts, Good Will Hunting captures the city’s academic and blue-collar sides. The film’s authentic depiction of Boston life resonates deeply with its viewers. Trivia: The famous bench scene with Robin Williams and Matt Damon was filmed in Boston’s Public Garden, which has since become a poignant memorial spot for Williams.
Michigan: RoboCop (1987)
RoboCop, set in a dystopian Detroit, Michigan, was partially filmed in the city, capturing its urban landscape. The film’s portrayal of Detroit as a city in need of a savior resonated with audiences during a time of economic struggle in the city. Interesting fact: The film’s iconic abandoned factory scenes were shot in real, derelict factories in Detroit.
Minnesota: Fargo (1996)
While named after the city in North Dakota, much of Fargo was actually filmed in Minnesota. The Coen Brothers, Minnesota natives, used the state’s snowy landscapes to create a stark, chilling backdrop for the film. Trivia: The famous wood chipper scene was filmed in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie.
Mississippi: O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Filmed in various locations across Mississippi, O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a modern retelling of Homer’s Odyssey set during the Great Depression. The state’s rural landscapes and historical settings were pivotal in creating the film’s unique atmosphere. Fun fact: The film’s color was digitally altered in post-production to give it a sepia-tinted, old-timey look, enhancing the Mississippi setting.
Missouri: Winter’s Bone (2010)
Set and filmed in the Ozarks of Missouri, Winter’s Bone offers a gripping look into the region’s stark and rugged beauty. The film’s authentic portrayal of life in the Ozarks is both compelling and haunting. Trivia: Many of the actors were cast locally, adding to the film’s realism.
Montana: A River Runs Through It (1992)
A River Runs Through It, filmed in the beautiful landscapes of Montana, is a visually stunning portrayal of the state’s natural beauty. The film’s depiction of fly fishing and family dynamics is deeply intertwined with the Montana scenery. Interesting fact: The film helped popularize fly fishing, leading to an increase in tourism to Montana’s rivers.
Nebraska: Nebraska (2013)
Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, filmed in black and white, showcases the state’s wide-open spaces and small-town life. The film provides a poignant, often humorous look at the Midwestern spirit. Fun fact: Many scenes were shot in real small towns across Nebraska, lending an air of authenticity to the film’s depiction of Americana.
Nevada: The Hangover (2009)
The Hangover, set and filmed in Las Vegas, Nevada, captures the city’s wild, unpredictable nature. The film’s comedic portrayal of a Vegas bachelor party gone awry has become synonymous with the city’s party scene. Trivia: The iconic scenes at Caesars Palace have turned the hotel into a tourist hotspot for fans of the movie.
New Hampshire: Jumanji (1995)
Filmed in Keene, New Hampshire, Jumanji brought the fictional town of Brantford to life. The film’s use of New Hampshire’s quaint small-town setting contrasts sharply with its wild, fantastical elements. Interesting fact: The Parrish Shoes mural, created for the film, remains on a building in Keene, attracting fans and tourists.
New Jersey: War of the Worlds (2005)
Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds was filmed in various locations in New Jersey, including Bayonne and Newark. The state’s urban and suburban landscapes provided a realistic setting for this sci-fi thriller. Trivia: The scene of the crashed airplane was filmed in a real neighborhood in Newark, using a disassembled airplane transported to the site.
New Mexico: No Country for Old Men (2007)
No Country for Old Men, filmed in various locations across New Mexico, captures the stark, arid beauty of the state’s landscape. The film’s tense and atmospheric storytelling is enhanced by the desolate and expansive scenery. Trivia: The film’s iconic coin-toss scene was shot in a gas station in the small town of Eagle Nest.
New York: Ghostbusters (1984)
Ghostbusters, filmed in New York City, is synonymous with the city’s 1980s culture. The film’s use of iconic locations like Columbia University and the New York Public Library made it an integral part of NYC’s cinematic history. Fun fact: The Ghostbusters’ headquarters, a firehouse in Tribeca, has become a popular photo spot for fans.
North Carolina: The Hunger Games (2012)
Filmed in the forests of North Carolina, The Hunger Games used the state’s natural landscape to create the dystopian world of Panem. The dense woodlands and abandoned industrial sites added to the film’s gritty, survivalist theme. Trivia: The film’s District 12 was shot in the abandoned Henry River Mill Village, now a destination for fans.
North Dakota: Fargo (1996)
Despite its title, Fargo was primarily filmed in Minnesota. However, the movie did include some scenes shot in Fargo, North Dakota, capturing the essence of the Upper Midwest’s stark winter landscapes. Trivia: The iconic wood chipper scene, though associated with Fargo, was actually shot in Minnesota.
Ohio: The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Filmed in Mansfield, Ohio, The Shawshank Redemption used the Ohio State Reformatory as its primary location. The imposing structure of the reformatory lent a sense of gravity and realism to the film. Interesting fact: The reformatory has since become a popular tourist attraction, with fans visiting to experience the iconic location firsthand.
Oklahoma: Twister (1996)
Filmed in various locations across Oklahoma, Twister captures the state’s notorious tornado-prone landscape. The film’s intense storm-chasing scenes brought the thrill and danger of tornadoes to the big screen. Trivia: The production used real storm footage and state-of-the-art special effects to create the film’s realistic tornado scenes.
Oregon: The Goonies (1985)
The Goonies, filmed in Astoria, Oregon, is a beloved adventure film that showcases the state’s coastal beauty. The film’s iconic scenes, like the discovery of the pirate ship, were shot in and around Astoria. Fun fact: The house used as the Goonies’ home remains a popular tourist destination, attracting fans from all over the world.
Pennsylvania: Groundhog Day (1993)
While set in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Groundhog Day was actually filmed in Woodstock, Illinois. However, the film’s celebration of the famous Punxsutawney Phil groundhog ceremony has made it synonymous with Pennsylvania. Interesting fact: The film’s repeated scenes were carefully crafted to reflect subtle changes, a meticulous process that took considerable time to film.
Rhode Island: Me, Myself & Irene (2000)
Filmed in various locations in Rhode Island, Me, Myself & Irene used the state’s picturesque coastal towns as a backdrop for its comedic story. The film highlights the charm and beauty of Rhode Island’s small-town life. Trivia: The scenes on the police station were filmed in Jamestown, offering scenic views of the Narragansett Bay.
South Carolina: The Patriot (2000)
Set during the American Revolution, The Patriot was filmed in various locations across South Carolina. The film’s depiction of colonial-era battles was enhanced by the state’s historic plantations and landscapes. Fun fact: The film’s climactic battle scene was shot at the Cypress Gardens in Moncks Corner, which has become a point of interest for history and film enthusiasts.
South Dakota: National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007)
Part of the National Treasure franchise, Book of Secrets features key scenes filmed at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. The monument’s grandeur and historical significance perfectly complemented the film’s treasure-hunting adventure. Trivia: The film crew was granted special access to film at this iconic location, adding to the movie’s authenticity.
Tennessee: The Green Mile (1999)
Filmed in Tennessee, including at the old Tennessee State Prison, The Green Mile captures the somber and historical atmosphere of the Southern United States. The prison’s imposing architecture added a sense of realism to the film’s setting. Fun fact: The prison has been used in several films and is known for its distinctive, castle-like appearance.
Texas: No Country for Old Men (2007)
Though set in Texas, No Country for Old Men was largely filmed in New Mexico. However, its portrayal of the desolate, expansive Texan landscape is a crucial element of the film’s tense atmosphere. Trivia: The filmmakers chose New Mexico for its similar landscapes and favorable filming conditions.
Utah: 127 Hours (2010)
127 Hours, based on the true story of Aron Ralston, was filmed in Utah’s breathtaking canyon country. The film’s intense survival story is set against the backdrop of the state’s stunning natural landscapes. Interesting fact: The film’s climactic canyon scenes were shot in the actual location where Ralston was trapped, Blue John Canyon.
Vermont: Beetlejuice (1988)
Beetlejuice, directed by Tim Burton, was filmed in East Corinth, Vermont. The film’s quirky, fantastical elements are juxtaposed against the small town’s picturesque New England charm. Trivia: The iconic house in the film, though heavily altered through set design and effects, is situated in this quaint Vermont town.
Virginia: Lincoln (2012)
Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, was filmed in several historical locations across Virginia. The state’s rich history provided the perfect setting for this Civil War-era biopic. Interesting fact: The Virginia State Capitol served as a stand-in for the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., during the film’s production.
Washington: Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Set and filmed in Seattle, Washington, Sleepless in Seattle showcases the city’s iconic landmarks, like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. The film’s romantic plot is as charming as the city’s skyline. Trivia: The houseboat featured in the film, located on Lake Union, has since become a famous Seattle landmark.
West Virginia: The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
Based on the legend of the Mothman, The Mothman Prophecies was filmed in various locations in West Virginia. The state’s eerie, misty landscapes added to the film’s supernatural and mysterious tone. Fun fact: The movie is based on real events that occurred in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in the 1960s.
Wisconsin: Dawn of the Dead (2004)
The remake of Dawn of the Dead, filmed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, used the state’s largest city to create a realistic urban zombie apocalypse. The film’s intense action and horror scenes are set against the backdrop of everyday Midwestern life. Trivia: The main setting, a shopping mall, was a real, functioning mall in Milwaukee during filming.
Wyoming: Brokeback Mountain (2005)
While set in Wyoming, Brokeback Mountain was actually filmed in various locations in Canada. The film’s portrayal of Wyoming’s rugged, scenic landscapes plays a significant role in the story’s emotional depth. Interesting fact: The filmmakers chose Canada for its similar landscapes and cost-effective production.