American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
Favorite Movie Locales from Coast to Coast, Part 3
Within the first two parts of this three-part series, I described 10 of my favorite movie locales in the United States, from the French Quarter to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Here, in geographical order, are the last five places on my list, all of which recall inspiring movie experiences as well as beloved travel memories:
Georgetown in Washington, D.C.: With its wealth of unique architecture and historical monuments, America's capital city has, not surprisingly, appeared in numerous films over the years. One popular area – for tourists as well as filmmakers – is the Georgetown neighborhood, a National Historic Landmark District established alongside the Potomac River in 1751 and now home to the well-respected Georgetown University. Movies such as St. Elmo's Fire (1985), True Lies (1994), and The Recruit (2003) have featured the picturesque streets and structures of Georgetown, though none have quite captured its essence like The Exorcist (1973), William Friedkin's effectively creepy adaptation of William Peter Blatty's terrifying novel about demon possession. Some of the Georgetown landmarks highlighted in this classic, Oscar-winning horror flick include the impressive Holy Trinity Catholic Church, the elegant Francis Scott Key Bridge, and Georgetown University itself – on the campus of which you'll find the sinister “Hitchcock Steps” that were utilized in the movie's frightful climax.
The National Mall in Washington, D.C.: As with Niagara Falls, which was mentioned in the second part of this series, I first encountered Washington, D.C., as an adolescent, and even though that was over two decades ago, I still remember being absolutely awed by the monuments and memorials that constitute the National Mall and Memorial Parks, a National Park Service unit officially established in 1965. Here is where you'll also find the vast museums that comprise the Smithsonian Institution – an incredible collection of art, gems, artifacts, and living specimens to which the public is only partially privy. Considering that you'd need endless amounts of time to see everything on display – not to mention everything in storage – it might come as no surprise that I just about had a nervous breakdown upon realizing that Mom and I only had a few days to explore the Smithsonian on our long-ago journey up the East Coast. Luckily, I've returned to D.C. since then, though I still have yet to exhaust my museum and monument possibilities in America's capital. And whenever I'm missing D.C., I can simply relive such experiences by watching a number of films that have been shot on the National Mall, from Forrest Gump (1994) to National Treasure (2004), which features such icons as the Lincoln Memorial and the National Archives.
Savannah, Georgia: Like the New Orleans French Quarter, Savannah captures the spirit of America's antebellum South with its plethora of unique architecture, shady trees, and other lush foliage. Given such gorgeous sights and its laidback ambience, it's no wonder that this picturesque, often steamy, coastal town has been the setting for many movies over the years, including the classic thriller Cape Fear (1962), the Oscar-winning Civil War drama Glory (1989), and Sam Raimi's supernatural mystery The Gift (2000). Of course, no film has highlighted the eccentric charm, festive atmosphere, sumptuous greenery, and mystical vibe of Savannah, Georgia, quite like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), Clint Eastwood's adaptation of John Berendt's bestselling nonfiction book about a millionaire's murder trial. Through this film, those who have never experienced Savannah can witness the well-landscaped homes, creepy cemeteries, and lively settings of this lovely city – though, as always, nothing compares to visiting Savannah in person.
Art Deco Historic District in Miami Beach, Florida: While gathering research and photographs for my upcoming Moon Florida Keys guide, I had the privilege to visit the Miami area in addition to my trips through the Everglades and the Florida Keys. Known as the Magic City, Miami possesses a sultry, Latin-inspired vibe all its own. It makes sense, then, that so many movies and television shows, from The Bellboy (1960) to Burn Notice (2007-present) have featured its beaches, architecture, and sexy residents. One particularly striking area is the Art Deco Historic District in South Beach, the southern portion of Miami Beach, an island east of downtown Miami. While Michael Bay's action film Bad Boys (1995) took advantage of this colorful neighborhood, no film has quite captured its essence like The Birdcage (1996), a zany, Americanized adaptation of La Cage aux Folles, a French film about a gay cabaret owner who, with his drag queen companion, must feign heterosexuality in order to meet his son's future in-laws.
The Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys: In general, southern Florida has been a popular setting for filmmakers. Key West's Eden House, for instance, serves as Goldie Hawn's home in CrissCross (1992), while the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve plays a pivotal role in Spike Jonze's bizarre film Adaptation. (2002). Films such as Key Largo (1948), Flipper (1963), and Licence to Kill (1989) have also taken advantage of the Keys' lovely beaches, offshore waters, and breezy structures. Perhaps one of the most memorable images in modern cinema, however, is that of the helicopter-and-limousine chase scene in James Cameron's True Lies (1994), for which Cameron was actually able to detonate parts of the Old Seven Mile Bridge, a lengthy stretch of the Overseas Highway, one of the most scenic routes in the United States.
Obviously, this three-part series hasn't covered all of America's famous movie locales. Where, you might ask, is Utah's Monument Valley, a frequent setting for John Ford's classic Westerns, or Nevada's Hoover Dam, which appears in numerous films, including Superman (1978) and the more recent Transformers (2007)? Well, difficult as the task might have been, I'm happy with the 15 locales that I selected – all of which have brought back some wonderful travel and movie memories. Hopefully, the list will inspire you to travel to these and other photogenic places, too. If so, you might want to consult the following Moon travel guides: Moon Metro Washington, D.C., Moon Charleston & Savannah, and Moon Florida. And, of course, I welcome you to share your own favorite movie spots in the comments section below!
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and my Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo of the Overseas Highway © 2010 Daniel Martone / Text © 2010 Laura Martone