If you visit Los Angeles or New York City (or Toronto or Vancouver) you’ll be surrounded by famous film locations whether you realize it or not. Those cities not only appear as themselves in countless movies, but they also stand in for others, and sometimes even for each other. (The cross-country tour depicted in This Is Spinal Tap was almost all filmed around Los Angeles, for example.)
But many other classic films are shot on location, and often in places far from where they claim to be or where you’d expect. In some cases a visit to the spot will be instantly recognizable, and in other cases you’ll need a lot of imagination to sort out exactly what you are looking for. Below you’ll find information on how to visit locations found in 9 different “modern-day classic” movies that are shown on television so often they might seem as recognizable as your hometown.
1 – Office Space (1999)
It would be natural to assume that this cult hit was filmed somewhere in California’s Silicon Valley, where it was inspired and seemingly set, but you’d be about 1,700 miles off. To see the still-standing home of Initech (that fire didn’t look real at all, did it?), I’m going to need you to go ahead and go to Austin, Texas, which is where writer/director Mike Judge was (and is) living. Today the building in this random business park is home to a child support enforcement company and some lawyers, among other things.
The setting of the fictional Chotchkie’s, where Judge himself played the manager who insisted upon ‘15 pieces of flair,’ was the Alligator Grill, which is a Cajun restaurant that opened in 1994 and still continues to feature “Austin’s best happy hour” from 3pm to 7pm every day of the week.
Location: Initech exteriors were filmed at 4120 Freidrich Lane, Austin, TX 78744 and the Alligator Grill is at 3003 South Lamar, Austin, TX 78704
Getting there: Austin itself is easy enough to find, and the Initech building is about 4 miles south of the clubs on Sixth Street downtown. The Alligator Grill is about 4 miles northwest of Initech, and about 3 miles south of Sixth Street.
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2 – Caddyshack (1980)
A location for the fictional Bushwood Country Club was never given in the film, but the majority of it was shot in south Florida in the fall of 1979. All the golf scenes were filmed at the very real Rolling Hills Golf & Tennis Resort, including the climactic gopher-dooming explosions that were written and filmed at the end of production.
In 2006 the resort changed its name to the Grande Oaks Golf Club, and it continues to operate as a private country club. Fans of the movie can get a tee time however, if they book a room in one of five area resorts that have a deal set up with Grande Oaks. The green fees are currently only $100 for a round, so you’ve got that going for you, which is nice.
Location: 3201 West Rolling Hills Circle – Ft Lauderdale-Davie, Florida 33328
Getting there: Davie, Florida is only about 5 miles west of Ft. Lauderdale, and about 20 miles north of the city of Miami.
3 – That Thing You Do (1996)
Those from Erie, PA could probably spot the fact that the city used in the beginning of the film wasn’t their hometown, but they might not have guessed that it was really in ‘The OC.’ Most residents of Orange County, California probably aren’t even aware that the City of Orange itself still contains a historic downtown area that still looks much like it did in this film. A Wells Fargo Bank building was used as the exterior for the library scene, and Watson Drug Store and Soda Fountain, which was built in 1899 and still has a soda fountain, was prominently featured as well.
Los Angeles’ famous Ambassador Hotel, which was featured in the final scenes of the film, has also been used in dozens of other films, but it was more famous as the location of Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 assassination. It closed as a hotel in 1989, but remained in tact until early 2006 when it was finally torn down to make way for two public schools now being built there.
Location: Wells-Fargo Bank – 1435 W. Chapman Avenue, Orange, California 92868, Watson Drug Store – 116 E. Chapman Avenue, Orange, California 92866
Getting there: The historic district known as Orange Circle is about 5 miles east of Disneyland and about 30 miles southeast of Downtown Los Angeles.
4 – The Breakfast Club (1985)
Being a John Hughes film, it’s no surprise that this one was based in a fictional town in Illinois (called Shermer) and also shot in a real Illinois town (called Des Plaines). Most of the interior scenes were filmed in the Maine North High School, which had been closed for over two years prior to the spring 1984 production of the Breakfast Club. The spacious and airy library where detention was held was fashioned out of what had been the school’s gym. The following year the still-closed high school was used for a few interior scenes for another Hughes film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The main building still stands, and after going through many incarnations it’s now used by the state of Illinois, with a State Police HQ as one of the tenants.
Location: 9511 W. Harrison St. Des Plaines, Illinois 60016
Getting there: Des Plaines is about 20 miles northwest of Chicago
5 – Forrest Gump (1994)
Love it or hate it, everyone knows this film and probably remembers that most of it was in the form of flashbacks described as Forrest Gump sits on a bench talking to anyone who’d listen. The flashback scenes were literally filmed from coast to coast, but the all-important small town bench scenes were filmed in Chippewa Square in downtown Savannah, Georgia. The bench was put there only for the production and has long been removed, but fans of the film, as well as fans of benches in general, will be happy to learn that the thing is on display at the Savannah History Museum about a half-mile away.
All the Louisiana and boating scenes were shot in and around Lucy Creek, South Carolina, and the Vietnam scenes were all done on Fripp and Hunting Islands, which are about 15 miles from Lucy Creek and accessible by bridges.
Location: Chippewa Square – 222 Bull St. Savannah, GA 31401, Savannah History Museum – 303 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Savannah, GA 31401, Lucy Creek is about 50 miles northeast of Savannah.
Getting there: Savannah is a lovely tourist destination on the Georgia coast, which is about 250 miles southwest of Atlanta, and about 140 miles north of Jacksonville, Florida
6 – Groundhog Day (1993)
If you’ve ever been to the real Groundhog Day ceremony with Punxsutawney Phil on Gobbler’s Knob, you’d know that it’s really a couple miles outside of town and doesn’t look anything like the town square in the film. This could be explained by the fact that the movie was actually filmed on location in Woodstock, Illinois, which is about 50 miles northwest of Bill Murray’s Chicago suburb hometown of Wilmette.
Woodstock Square Park, which humbly calls itself “America’s Best Town Square” was the setting of much of the film, and the town of about 20,000 is so proud of it that they celebrate their own ‘Groundhog Days’ every year, and continue to offer walking tours of film locations. You can even see a plaque on a wall that commemorates Ned’s Corner. Bing!
If you’ve ever been to the real Groundhog Day ceremony with Punxsutawney Phil on Gobbler’s Knob, you’d know…wait, that was stupid. Sorry.
Location: Woodstock Square Park is in the center of Woodstock, Illinios, or at 110 S Johnson St, Woodstock, IL 60098 if you are an address buff.
Getting there: The town is about 60 miles northwest of Chicago.
7 – Animal House (1978)
The fictional Faber College was in Pennsylvania, according the script, but producers had difficulty finding a school anywhere that would allow them to film a raunchy comedy in 1978. They finally were able to convince the University of Oregon in Eugene that the project would not taint the institution’s image.
The exterior shots of the Delta House were filmed at the rundown Phi Sigma Kappa frat house, which was torn down in 1986 to be replaced by doctor’s offices, but a plaque now stands affixed to a boulder in the parking lot that does mention the Animal House connection. The rival Omega House location is now home to the local Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter, and it still stands next door along with all the others in the neighborhood. The final parade scenes were shot in the nearby town of Cottage Grove, which has seen better days even though it’s more or less in tact today.
Location: The now-gone Delta house was at 751 E 11th Ave Eugene, OR 97401, and the still-there Omega House is at 729 E 11th Ave
Getting there: The University of Oregon campus in Eugene is about 110 miles south of Portland, and Cottage Grove is about 20 miles south of Eugene.
8 – Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
With a budget of only $400,000 and a domestic gross over $44 million, this bizarre comedy helped put Preston, Idaho on the map, although it was already there because it’s a real city of about 5,000 residents near the southeast corner of the state. Having gone to school there himself, director Jared Hess didn’t bother to change the name of Preston High School in the film, which has helped it become a tourist attraction in the years since.
Thrift store Deseret Industries, Pop’n Pin Lanes, and the now-rebuilt Big J Burgers were also featured in the film and continue to attract curious fans of the cult hit who make the pilgrimage to this out-of-the-way town.
Location: Preston High School is at 151 E 2nd S, Preston, ID 83263
Getting there: The city of Preston is about 250 miles southeast of Boise, Idaho, but only about 90 miles north of Salt Lake City, Utah.
9 – Field of Dreams (1989)
If the studio builds it, the production company will come, and then they’ll abandon it again the moment they wrap. The famous baseball field in the film was built in three days straddling two different farms in 1988.
One of the owners kept part of the field in tact and set up a souvenir stand on it just as the movie came out, while the other owner went back to farming their portion for one year before changing it back and setting up their own competing stand. In 2007 all the land was sold to the first family, who continues to operate the free Field of Dreams movie site attraction, along with the profitable nearby concessions, from April through November every year.
Location: Lansing Road, Dyersville, Iowa
Getting there: The Field of Dreams is about 25 miles west of Dubuque, Iowa, and about 200 miles west of Chicago.
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