When it comes to film tourism, the U.S. cities that get the most attention are without a doubt New York and Los Angeles. If you drill down deeper you might see San Francisco and Washington, D.C. on the list, but Southern cities almost never get mentioned. They usually aren’t quite as synonymous with Hollywood as their Northern counterparts, but they should be.
You won’t, for example, find movie location tours in Raleigh the way you will in New York City, but that doesn’t mean that the Old South lacks offerings when it comes to curious film fans. It’s actually far from that– believe it or not, there are quite a few memorable sites to visit in the South for movie lovers. Pair this with wonderful accommodations, delicious Southern cuisine and that famous hospitality, and you’ve got several reasons to start planning your film-inspired getaway to the Old South!
Deep in the Old South lies the picturesque city of Savannah. This sleepy Georgia town is known for its lanes of trees draped in Spanish moss, its history as one of the first planned cities in America and of course its Southern hospitality. Savannah is also known for its 22 leafy city squares that act as the perfect respite from the sticky Georgia heat.
Quite a few of Savannah’s squares are famous for one thing or another; ghost stories, historic battles and so on. But one square in particular draws visitors because of a bench. A bench, I might add, that is no longer even there.
On the back side of Chippewa Square, a beloved character named Forrest Gump once sat on a bench, telling his incredible life story to strangers as he waited for a bus. Today, the bench is no longer located at the square (you now have to go to the Savannah History Museum to see it), but that doesn’t stop people from visiting. Bonus points if you show up with a box of chocolates.
The forests of the Hunger Games
ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
If you’re like me and have caught the “Hunger Games” fever over the past few years, you may want to consider a trip to North Carolina. Various cities in the state were used in the first Hunger Games movie, including Henry River Mill Village (as District 12), and Concord and Charlotte (as The Capitol).
Asheville also figured prominently in the film as the setting for the intense Arena scenes. Katniss and Peeta fled tracker jackers and their fellow tributes on-location in the Blue Ridge Mountains just outside of Asheville; a beautiful backdrop for a scary moment. In DuPont State Forest, several scenes were filmed near Triple Falls on the Little River – all easily accessible via hiking trails. Asheville also has a vibrant indie music scene and some great bars and cafes, making for a well-rounded trip, even if your focus is on the Hunger Games.
Today, there are even Hunger Games-themed tours in this part of the Old South for truly diehard fans which include archery lessons and special effects make up.
Boone Hall Plantation
MOUNT PLEASANT, SOUTH CAROLINA
For a very long time, plantations – and the slave labor that fueled them – were the backbone of the Old South. Today, many of these former antebellum plantations are open to the public as windows into the history of the South. You can even spend the night in some former plantations as they have been lovingly restored to their full architectural glory.
Boone Hall Plantation, located in Mount Pleasant just outside Charleston, dates back to the late 1600s and today is known for its “Avenue of Oaks” – a mile-long driveway flanked by 80 live oak trees dripping in Spanish moss. This plantation has one more draw, though: It was also used in the movie “The Notebook.”
This Nicholas Sparks book-turned-film has become a romantic classic, and a lot of it was actually filmed in South Carolina. The plantation house at Boone Hall was featured in the film as Allie’s family’s summer home.
Which of these Old South movie locations do you want to visit first?
*Cover image by Kevin Tao
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