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 2
Inspired by Katie Sorene's top 10 greatest movie locations of all time, I shared with you five of my favorite American movie locales – the French Quarter, the Las Vegas Strip, Alcatraz Island, Devil's Tower, and Mount Rushmore – in yesterday's post. Here, in geographical order, are my second five favorite spots, all of which recall classic movie experiences as well as beloved travel memories:
Chicago, Illinois: As with New Orleans, the Windy City is no stranger to this blog. With its cornucopia of ethnic cuisines and incredible museums, not to mention its proximity to Lake Michigan, Chicago is, not surprisingly, well favored among tourists. But what you might not know is that it's also popular among filmmakers. From Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959) to George Roy Hill's The Sting (1973) to Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition (2002), numerous films have taken advantage of Chicago's architectural treasures and unique Midwestern vibe. John Hughes, a native Midwesterner, directed or produced many of his films in the Chicago area, including Sixteen Candles (1984), She's Having a Baby (1988), Home Alone (1990), and, of course, his greatest ode to the Windy City, Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), which features such Chicago icons as Wrigley Field, the formerly named Sears Tower, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Hughes' films aren't the only memorable examples, however. Union Station is site of the classic cops-and-mobsters standoff in The Untouchables (1987); downtown Chicago features prominently in both The Fugitive (1993) and The Lake House (2006); the “L” train system is a key setting in While You Were Sleeping (1995); and the metropolis has even doubled for moody Gotham City in The Dark Knight (2008). While living in Chicago, I witnessed several films being shot on various city streets, including The Negotiator (1998) and High Fidelity (2000). Of course, the film that most easily transports me back to Chicago is The Blues Brothers (1980), in which the musically-inclined criminals Jake and Elwood Blues venture from one end of Chicagoland to the other – from a Baptist church on the South Side to Lower Wacker Drive to City Hall, where they even meet up with a young Steven Spielberg.
Mackinac Island in northern Michigan: Beyond the gritty urban center of Detroit, the Great Lakes State offers a wide assortment of forests, beaches, rivers, inland lakes, and small towns, making it desirable for many filmmakers. Movies like RoboCop (1987), Out of Sight (1998), and 8 Mile (2002) showcase the seedier side of the Motor City, while films like Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) and The Upside of Anger (2005) offer a look at the city's wealthier suburbs. Of course, the largely untamed Upper Peninsula has made its appearance a few times, too, in flicks such as Anatomy of a Murder (1959), which highlights towns like Big Bay, Ishpeming, and Marquette, and Escanaba in da Moonlight (2001), Jeff Daniels' zany tribute to his native state. Perhaps the most celebrated film, however, is Somewhere in Time (1980), an ill-fated, turn-of-the-20th-century love story that takes place at the famous Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, a nostalgic, automobile-free island situated between Michigan's two peninsulas. Even today, a fan club meets at the Grand Hotel every October to celebrate this historic romance, starring Jane Seymour and the late Christopher Reeve.
Niagara Falls in western New York: I'm hard-pressed to forget the first time that I saw the Niagara Falls, those stupendous waterfalls that straddle the U.S.-Canadian border at Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario. Just shy of 12 years old, I was simply awed by the power and beauty of that cascading water, and my mother – my traveling companion at the time – was equally entranced. Since then, I've seen numerous films that feature this incredible landmark, from Niagara (1953) to Bruce Almighty (2003), but no matter how entertaining such films are, I'll readily admit that none can compare to seeing the Niagara Falls in person.
Empire State Building in New York City, New York: Like Los Angeles, New York City has starred in more films than I can possibly list here. Many, of course, are due to such filmmakers as Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, and Spike Lee, who make no secret of their adoration for the Big Apple. No doubt all of the city's most famous icons have appeared on the silver screen at one time or another – including the Statue of Liberty, where a naked mermaid comes ashore in Splash (1984), and Central Park, where two would-be lovers ice-skate together in Serendipity (2001). Perhaps one of movie fans' most cherished New York moments occurs in Sleepless in Seattle (1993), when Tom Hanks' and Meg Ryan's characters finally meet atop the Empire State Building. Of course, any of these films – and many more – can conjure up memories of New York, a city that's difficult to capture with just one film.
Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The City of Brotherly Love certainly has its share of memorable movie moments. How could it not when such films as Trading Places (1983), Philadelphia (1993), Twelve Monkeys (1995), and National Treasure (2004) have featured some of the city's most famous landmarks, from Independence National Historical Park to the Philadelphia City Hall? Many cinema lovers would agree, however, that no film captures the essence of Philadelphia quite like the original Rocky (1976), during which the Italian Stallion makes his triumphant run up the steps of the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art – a journey that many movie fans have emulated over the past few decades.
If you're curious about my last five choices, check out the final post of this three-part series – and of course, feel free to share your own favorite movie spots in the comments section. In the meantime, you can learn more about the above five locales by consulting the following Moon travel guides: Moon Metro Chicago, Moon Michigan, Moon New York State, Moon Metro New York City, and Moon Philadelphia.
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 Niagara Falls / Text © 2010 Laura Martone