20 Iconic Movie Locations You Didn’t Know You Can Visit Right Now
There’s nothing like getting lost in a good movie, but what about physically stepping through the screen and into a great film location?
While it’s impossible to actually visit deep space, an alternate dimension or the far future, there are plenty of famous movie locations you can actually go to right now – from the Ghostbusters’ famous hideout to the ‘surface of Mars’.
That’s why today we’re looking at 20 iconic movie locations you didn’t know you could visit today.
20. Cafe des 2 Moulins, from Amelie
Amelie is a movie filled with sweet and quirky visuals that match the light-hearted and whimsical tone of the story.
There are a ton of delightful locations that you can visit if you want to feel as though you’ve stepped right through the screen, but the most famous of all of them is definitely Cafe des 2 Moulins.
The small bar and restaurant in Paris is famed for being the place where Amelie spends her time waitressing and daydreaming, and in reality is today always flooded with tourists wanting to experience the quaint vibes of the movie.
However, it’s also a favourite amongst Parisian locals, who are interested in the top-quality food and wine, rather than the venue’s cinematic connections.
That means it’s important to arrive early if you want to grab a seat, and it’s possible that you might be interrupted in your selfie-taking by a grumpy local who just wants their morning coffee.
As café culture is a big thing in Europe, there are dozens – if not hundreds – of other places that’ll serve coffee that’s just as nice. So give up that chair for someone who really likes Amelie, you monster!
19. The Cabazon Dinosaurs, from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is another movie with a lot of locations to pick from, given that most of the plot is comprised of Pee-wee trying to get from place to place.
With that said, the most iconic location seen in the film, with the possible exception of Pee-wee’s own home, is the desert filled with huge plastic dinosaurs.
In the movie, Pee-wee visits the iconic roadside attraction, which is located in the California desert on the way towards Palm Springs.
There are over 50 Cabazon Dinosaurs, all tall enough to dominate the landscape, and it is completely free to stop your car and explore them.
There are even a select few dinosaurs that you can climb inside of and hide in, which is not only a super unique picture opportunity but definitely what Pee-wee Herman would have wanted.
18. The El Royale Hotel, from Boogie Nights
Boogie Nights is an iconic movie, but it’s definitely not the most uplifting or inspiring story to pick out for movie night.
It’s kind of a puzzling choice as far as film sets you want to visit in real life go, but then maybe you’re a huge disco music enthusiast or just obsessed with Mark Wahlberg.
Either way, it is possible to visit the El Royale Hotel in California, not to be confused with the hotel of Bad Times at the El Royale fame with which it shares its name.
The motel is now more a roadside attraction than a constantly fully-booked establishment, but it is possible to tour the place, and even book a room for the night if you’re feeling brave.
Of course, it’s not advisable to engage in any of the activities the characters in Boogie Nights did during their time at the El Royale, as you’d probably find your stay cut short pretty quickly.
17. The Travel Book Shop, from Notting Hill
The rom-com is maybe the genre with the most visitable real-life locations, since the plots so often involve meet-cutes in fancy cafes, bookshops or theatres.
This gives rom-com lovers the chance to re-enact the meetings and falling-in-love of their favourite movie couples, including those portrayed in the classic movie Notting Hill.
The Travel Book Shop is the location where Hugh Grant’s William Thacker meets the gorgeous actress Anna, portrayed by Julia Roberts, for the first time.
It is there where William and Anna first begin to fall in love over a glass of spilled orange juice, and now couples from all over the world flock to the site.
The Travel Book Shop has since been renamed in the movie’s honour, but it’s still a completely functional bookstore, where you can browse the romance section before taking a picture with your significant other out front.
16. The Beverly Wilshire Hotel, from Pretty Woman
The Beverly Wilshire Hotel is one of the most famous hotels in LA, not thanks to its ostentatious exterior or celebrity clientele, but because of its appearance in one very specific movie.
In fact, within certain circles, the hotel isn’t referred to by its name at all but is instead just known as the hotel from Pretty Woman.
That’s right, you can visit the hotel where Richard Gere’s Edward encourages Julia Roberts’ Vivian to stay with him, and re-enact the scene where she flops down on the expensive furnishings in a definitely not appropriate outfit.
You can even walk the halls Vivian walked through after completing her iconic makeover, though you might be a little overdressed if you opt for the floor-length red gown and opera gloves.
The Beverly Wilshire even offers “live like Pretty Woman” packages for fans of the movie, where guests pay to feel like royalty for a day. Hope you’ve got $100,000 spare!
15. The Getty Center aka Starfleet Headquarters, from Star Trek Into Darkness
Science fiction movies often don’t have any real-life locations for fans to visit, given that they’re often a mixture of soundstages and CGI environments.
With that said, it is often easier to anchor a whole alien planet to a building, landmark or ecosystem that exists in the real world, rather than starting from scratch.
This is the logic behind choosing The Getty Center in LA to represent Starfleet Headquarters in Star Trek Into Darkness.
The museum’s intricate and modern architecture, as well as its spiral hedges and sprawling layout, makes it the perfect contender.
It’s possible to visit the museum and walk amongst the exhibits, even if you probably won’t see Spock and Khan fighting overhead.
14. The McCallister House, from Home Alone
It’s rare that a location almost becomes a character in its own right, with the possible exception of films like Up or Monster House where the house almost is the movie.
However, the McCallister house is almost as iconic as the Home Alone franchise itself, given that it can be seen on VHS or DVD covers the world over, and is revisited by families everywhere each Christmas.
It does take a little bit of effort to find the McCallister family home, since it is located in the middle of a suburb in a residential area of Chicago.
With that said, some dedicated scouring of Winnetka, Illinois will reveal the home, with the iconic wrought iron fence that is perfect for posing in front of with a shocked face.
Selfies outside the fence are fine, but any attempt to get nearer may or may not result in treatment that would make the Wet Bandits envious.
13. Los Angeles Central Market, from Blade Runner
When Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard is first introduced to the audience in Blade Runner’s smoky futuristic cityscape, he can be seen eating noodles at a crowded outdoor market.
Though you won’t find any washes of purple neon lighting or advanced non-human robots running around, you can visit the market from this scene in the movie, with far less mist and rain getting in the way.
This Los Angeles market is full of kiosks and restaurants that are worth visiting even minus their movie connections, though you can also imagine that you’re filled with turmoil over your own possible replicant status if it helps improve your experience.
On the complete other end of the spectrum, the characters in La La Land also visit the Los Angeles Central Market, though in daylight and with a far less dystopian slant.
You can visit LA Central Market now, where you can eat delicious food while pretending either to be a world-weary jazz musician, or a world-weary future mercenary.
12. The baseball diamond, from Field of Dreams
All of the locations on this list have their fair share of visitors, and at least a few people who would trek to visit them and post about it on social media.
However, the baseball diamond from Field of Dreams gets far more than a couple of selfie-takers per month, and has even been called “one of the most iconic landmarks in all of America”.
The farm in Dyersville, Iowa offers daily tours centred around the movie, where you can walk around both the baseball field and the Kinsella family home.
You have to drive around 25 miles west of Dubuque to get to the location, and stop when you see the sign proclaiming the farm as the original Field of Dreams movie location.
The wholesome family-run farm is busy most days, both with those involved in baseball-related activities, and those just there to relax in the sun.
11. The university, from The Social Network
The Social Network is a movie chronicling the rise and fall of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, so you would expect it to follow the details of his life pretty closely.
Therefore, since Zuckerberg attended Harvard College, you’d probably assume the college scenes of the film were shot in Harvard as well.
Surprisingly, however, the film’s iconic inception of Facebook as an idea was actually shot in Wheelock College at Boston University.
This was mostly an aesthetic choice, since the campus was voted one of the most beautiful universities in America (actually higher up on the list than Harvard).
It is possible today to tour the campus as a prospective student, pondering about the internet-defining apps you are sure to one day create.
10. The steps, from Rocky
Some famous movie spots seemingly exist for you to show up and take a picture of them, maybe posing as if you’re one of the characters if you want to be really original.
With that said, there are also movie locations with the unwritten rule that if you’re going to visit, you’re going to have to re-enact the famous scene, and the so-called Rocky Steps fall into the second category.
The famous 72 steps from Rocky’s first training montage can be found at the forefront of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
That means you’ll probably be running up and down them as school trip groups and pensioners look at you weird and hurry inside.
The good news is the fans gathered around the nearby bronze statue of Rocky will at least know what you’re going for.
9. The beach, from Planet of the Apes
The pivotal reveal in Planet of the Apes, where the protagonist must deal with the shocking realisation that it is actually a future Earth that has been taken over by sentient apes, is one of the most shocking and sombre moments in all of cinema.
That’s why it’s so funny that the iconic scene was actually filmed on a sunny beach in Malibu, surrounded by celebrity houses and luxury spas.
You can actually stand directly in front of where the giant Statue of Liberty prop once stood, or scale the giant rock face that once bordered it.
However, the apocalyptic feel will probably be ruined by the fact that the beach is now a popular jogging spot for celebrities such as Chris Martin and Dakota Johnson, and that Cindy Crawford is rumoured to live close by.
That means you might have to go to the beach in the dead of winter or on a particularly overcast day, in order to get a selfie with an appropriately moody atmosphere.
8. The cave pool, from 127 Hours
The most iconic location in 127 Hours is undoubtedly the gorge where Aaron’s near-fatal accident comes to pass.
However, not only is it strongly advisable that you stay far away from anywhere even slightly geographically similar unless you are a certified climbing expert, but it isn’t actually possible to visit the original location.
You can visit somewhere with less grisly connotations though, and that’s the subterranean cave pool from the beginning of the movie.
Though you’re not allowed to dive in through the roof like Aaron and the hikers do, you can book a long swim in the luxurious hot spring, which is way more relaxing than losing your arm in a climbing accident.
The hot spring is mostly visited by those looking to get the ultimate spa experience, who will probably be surprised when they learn you’re there to re-enact part of 127 Hours.
7. The bench, from The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars might not be classic cinema, but it does have a seriously dedicated following, and locations from the movie have become must-visit tourist attractions in certain teen circles.
Most famously, the bench where Hazel and Gus share a kiss has become a pilgrimage spot on the banks of the Amstel River, so much so that it’s actually marked specifically on google maps.
In a wholesome development, the bench is now covered in messages from fans of both the book and movie, some celebrating their victory over cancer, or paying tribute to family members they’ve lost.
There are also numerous love notes carved into the wood, as well as a serious trend of selfies that replicate the movie’s famous marketing.
The fame of this bench, which has had entire YouTube videos made about it, might make The Fault in Our Stars one of the only Young Adult romance movies to have such a famous landmark.
6. Hatley Castle, from the X-Men franchise
Famous boarding schools are everywhere in fiction, from Hogwarts, to St Trinian’s, to wherever it was the kids from Enid Blyton’s books were hanging out.
With that said, there are far fewer that you can actually visit, and maybe the most famous one that actually exists is Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.
Hatley Castle in Canada has been used to house the X-Men in several instalments in the franchise, from X2: X-Men United through The Last Stand and two Deadpool movies.
This primary location was combined with several other stately homes and castles in Canada for both interiors and exteriors.
This was supposed to give the impression that the school is so large and intricate that you could explore for hours and never cover all of it.
5. The street, from Trainspotting
Trainspotting is one of the biggest cult movies of all time, and no part of the movie is more famous than the opening scene, which sees Ewan McGregor’s Renton sprinting recklessly through Scottish city streets.
Though the movie is predominantly set in Glasgow, the iconic run actually begins in Edinburgh and can be replicated exactly with just a little bit of patience.
Anyone wanting to flee through the Edinburgh streets while Lust for Life plays in the background needs to start by legging it down Princes Street, past what used to be a bookshop and is now a giant Next.
Then it’s time to take the steps down from Leith Street to Carlton Road two at a time and probably stop there unless you want to re-enact the part where Renton almost gets hit by a car.
If you do decide to re-enact the opening, you won’t be the only person to do it, given that the cast themselves also sprinted through Edinburgh again in the sequel.
4. Katz’s Delicatessen, from When Harry Met Sally…
There are a lot of iconic locations featured in the classic romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, from the airport where the couple accidentally cross paths to the final New Year’s Eve party.
With that said, none even begin to compare to the deli where Harry and Sally have their first argument, and Sally famously goes all-in on proving how easy it is for women to ‘fake it’.
Katz’s Delicatessen still sits on Houston St. in Manhattan, and is frequented by dozens of friends and couples wanting to recreate the iconic “I’ll have what she’s having” scene.
It’s an awesome photo spot, and maybe more importantly than that, the sandwiches are apparently really good.
However, it’s probably not the best place to grab a relaxing snack, since everyone around you will presumably either be ruffling their hair, screaming, or slamming their hands on the tables.
3. The Valley of the Moon, Jordan, from The Martian
It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking you’re walking the halls of Hogwarts, striding through the Hunger Games training centre or eating a famous Randy’s Donuts before an imminent attack by Tim Burton-designed aliens.
However, it’s far harder to simulate the experience of walking on the surface of Mars – unless you know the right contacts.
The Martian’s exterior Mars shots were filmed in Wadi Rum in Jordan, which is also known as The Valley of the Moon.
It is a protected site, thanks to its unique red sand that can’t be found anywhere else on Earth, but it is possible to visit under strict supervision.
While there, you might find the location being visited by fans of entirely different movies, since Wadi Rum can also be seen in Lawrence of Arabia.
2. Hook and Ladder Company fire station, from Ghostbusters
If you’ve ever felt the urge to get a trio of your best friends together and run through New York in your best Ghostbuster finery, there’s only one place for you to get that final iconic selfie.
Though the Ghostbusters HQ interior shots were actually filmed at a fire station in Los Angeles, the memorable exterior can be found at 14 North Moore Street on the corner of Varick Street in TriBeCa.
Ghostbusters HQ is actually called Hook and Ladder Company #8, and is a fully working firehouse.
That means you’ll have to be pretty speedy when posing with your proton packs, but the door is usually surrounded by dedicated fans and tributes nevertheless.
As for finding the HQ for 2016’s Ghostbusters, you’re going to have to leave New York and find the Kaze Shabu Shabu restaurant, in Boston, Massachusetts.
1. The stairs, from Joker
Despite being the newest film on this list, Joker has already claimed the top spot of movies with seriously in-demand real-life locations.
Specifically, it’s the spot where Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck pauses to dance around while fleeing from detectives on the way to his talk show appearance.
The stairs have become such an iconic picture spot that it’s actually impeding poor New Yorkers on their commute, who have reported being late for work because of the crowds.
It doesn’t help that there’s regularly a queue down the block to get onto the stairs, just for a quick selfie and video.
With that said, if you want to join the crowd and participate, then you’re going to want to find the stairs that connect Shakespeare and Anderson Avenue at West 167th Street in the Highbridge section of the Bronx.
Then it’s just a case of waiting for as long as it takes to actually make it onto the steps, and bringing someone with you who doesn’t mind taking your picture.