40 Trips Based on 40 of the Greatest Movies Ever Made
Film is renowned for its power to transport us to anywhere in the world. But sometimes it’s better just to board a plane and transport yourself.
According to reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, we selected some of the 40 most iconic movies of all time. These 40 films are all firmly rooted in a specific place — whether or not their filming locations were actually accurate to the story.
For cinephiles with a bucket list, these 40 trips around the world will help fans relive some of cinema’s greatest stories while opening up a destination for all new memories. Fans can relive the Little Italy of 1940s New York City with a trip inspired by “The Godfather,” or travel to the mountains of Japan to discover the life of medieval samurai, or even recreate their own Hitchcockian drama in San Francisco.
“The Godfather” — New York City
Although Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece “The Godfather” was filmed in New York City in the 1970s, scouts were able to find many locations that still resembled the 1940s.
Much of Little Italy remained unchanged at the time and film crews set up all around the neighborhood. Travelers looking for the Corleone’s family business can still find the storefront on Mott Street. And those looking for the Corleone residence can hop a ferry over to Staten Island and hunt down the house on Longfellow Avenue.
“Citizen Kane“ — Long Island
Considered by some to be one of the greatest movies of all time, “Citizen Kane” is difficult to pin to just one location. Much of the filming was done out in California, whether in RKO Studios in Hollywood or out in Pasadena or San Diego. It’s reported that Hearst Castle in California was Welles’s inspiration for the Xanadu mansion — although the actual filming was done at Oheka Castle in Huntington, New York.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” — Namibia
The deserts of Namibia stood in for a post-apocalyptic Australia in this modern favorite. Although the film was scheduled to shoot in Broken Hill, Australia and unusual amount of rain caused wildlife to bloom — a beautiful scene but not one quite appropriate for a post-apocalyptic action flick.
Films crews traveled to the Namib Desert, Henties Bay, Walvis Bay, the Swakop River and a salt farm at Paaltjies to recreate the expansive lands where Max goes mad.
“Casablanca” — Morocco
Film lovers can head to Casablanca, Morocco with the intention of experiencing some of the movie’s locations, however they will most likely leave disappointed. Most of the movie was shot in a studio in Los Angeles. For the more exotic-looking shots, film crews ventured to the sands of Arizona, near Yuma and Flagstaff.
But diehard fans can still venture to Casablanca and still find some mementos from the film: There’s a replica of Rick’s Cafe set up in the city.
“Boyhood” — Texas
Filmed over the course of 12 years, director Richard Linklater pays homage to the varied landscape of the expansive state of Texas. Film crew traversed the state from Houston to Austin and the state parks between to capture a unique bildungsroman. Throughout the film, Masons Jr. and Sr. go camping in Pedernales Falls State Park, bowling at the historic Dart Bowl & Cafe in Austin and to a Houston Astros baseball game at the Minute Maid Park.
“Moonlight” — Miami
This movie that made Oscar history opens its lens on a side of Miami rarely visited by tourists. Much of the film centers around the community in Liberty City, but they also ventured to the coastline, filming on Miami and Virginia Key beaches. Diehard fans of the film can also visit Jimmy’s Eastside Diner, the location of the film’s emotional ending reunion scene.
“Get Out” — Alabama
This year’s biggest psychological horror hit features a town off the beaten path. In the movie, a young couple goes back to Fairhope, Alabama to meet the parents. The only caveat is that the parents’ house — which you can visit on Heathcroft Lane — is haunted. The rest of the town is renowned for its laidback Southern coastal lifestyle, especially the scenic bluffs that overlook Mobile Bay.
“All About Eve” — New York City
Filmed in New York City in 1950, “All About Eve” is a scenic look back at mid-20th century Manhattan, particularly its booming theatre scene. Travelers who want to step back in time can still visit some of the locations where Bette Davis, Anne Baxter and Marilyn Monroe filmed, including the John Golden Theatre on West 45th Street and the 21 Club on West 52nd Street.
“E.T. the Extra Terrestrial” — Los Angeles
The suburbs of Los Angeles became a portal to an out-of-this-world adventure in Steven Spielberg’s 1982 classic. The neighborhoods of Tujunga, Porter Ranch and Granada Hills were used to film the scenes in Elliot’s neighborhood, including the iconic Reese’s Pieces trail. Tourists can head to Culver City High School to see where the movie’s classroom scenes were shot or head to the intersection of White Oak Boulevard and Tulsa Street in Granada Hills to see the exact spot where Elliot’s bike starts to take off into the sky with E.T. in the basket.
“Singin’ in the Rain” — Los Angeles
For those who love movies about making movies, this 1952 musical turned in on itself to film the story about a silent movie company transitioning into talkies. The opening scene of the movie was shot in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, however the rest of the film was done in the MGM Studios, now known as the Sony Pictures Studio.
“A Hard Day’s Night” — London
This 1964 madcap cemented The Beatles’ status as celebrities with staying power. In the film, the mischievous foursome must venture down from Liverpool to London for a gig — however things don’t stop going awry. The movie showcased swinging London in the ‘60s, including hotspots like Les Ambassadeurs Club. They ran up and down the Thames to places like La Scala theatre, Marylebone Station and through the gates of Notting Hill.
“The Maltese Falcon” — San Francisco
The fog of San Francisco was a perfect backdrop for this 1941 mystery, often considered one of the best examples of film noir. Although many of the interior shots were made down in Los Angeles, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Ferry Building and Bush Street gave an eerie, suspenseful feel to the unpredictable crime story.
“12 Years a Slave” — Louisiana
Even the opening scenes of “12 Years a Slave” — set in Saratoga, New York and Washington, D.C. — were filmed in the South. The bustling city scenes were all shot in New Orleans while the more gruesome plantation scenes took place at a variety of former plantations around Louisiana. Felicity Plantation, St. Joseph Plantation, Magnolia Plantation and Bocage Plantation were used as well-preserved examples of the South’s darker history.
“Sunset Boulevard” — Los Angeles
This 1950 film noir is regarded by some to be one of the best movies ever made about Hollywood life. Gloria Swanson played a fading silent film star who living in delusion that she will soon make a triumphant return to the screen. Her mansion (where she lived secluded) was the former Getty Mansion, which is now demolished. However film buffs can still visit Sunset Boulevard to see the elaborate gate which played the driveway up to the house.
“Rear Window” — New York City
While some New Yorkers may never get to know their neighbors, the characters in this classic Hitchcock film get to know the people across the street very, very intimately. Unfortunately the movie was shot entirely at Los Angeles studios, but rumor has it that Hitchcock was inspired by a very real house on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, New York City. Visitors will notice that the building (and its neighbors) are near-identical to Hitchcock’s set.
“Psycho” — Phoenix
This classic horror flick starts in downtown Phoenix, where Marion and her lover meet for the afternoon at the Jefferson Hotel (which has since become the Barrister Place Building). After stealing money, Marion drives out of town, stopping on the I-5, North of Los Angeles. Unfortunately because the movie had a relatively large budget, most everything else was done on set. But visitors to Universal Studios in Hollywood can go visit the set of the iconic Bates Motel.
“Taxi Driver” — New York City
After coming home from the Vietnam War, Travis Bickle (as played by Robert de Niro) ends up in the seedier parts of 1970s New York City. The movie features many shots of Times Square and its XXX theaters at the time — most of which were revamped and taken out during Mayor Giuliani’s infamous city clean-up.
“Spotlight” — Boston
Based on a true story, “Spotlight” follows reporters at The Boston Globe who uncovered the Catholic Church’s child sex abuse scandal in 2002. The movie shot mostly in Toronto, although there were a few authentic scenes filmed in Boston itself. Fans of the film can visit the former newspaper offices in Dorchester (they moved downtown earlier this year) and Figueroa's Market Convenience Store in Roxbury.
“Selma” — Selma, Alabama
Not all of “Selma” was shot in Selma, Alabama — although much of the movie was. The filming locations stayed fairly true to the history they were depicting. Scenes that would have taken place at the Georgia State Capitol were done on location in Atlanta while the end of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic march actually did take place (and filmed) in Montgomery, Alabama.
“Argo” — Istanbul
When depicting a classified and covert CIA mission about the Iranian Hostage Crisis, it’s highly unlikely that film crews are going to be able to shoot in the exact locations — although “Argo” was fairly accurate. While they did not actually film in Tehran, they journeyed to Istanbul to film at the Hagia Sophia. The crew also shot in and around Washington, D.C. for the government scenes.
“The Philadelphia Story” — Philadelphia
“The Philadelphia Story” is another classic movie that was not filmed where it was set — however it was largely inspired by a real estate that existed in the city. The 50-room Ardrossan Estate was a storied mansion on Philadelphia’s Main Line. Katharine Hepburn’s character of Tracy Lord is rumored to have been inspired by Hope Montgomery Scott, a socialite who hosted fabulous parties at Ardrossan for the likes of Cole Porter and even Hepburn herself.
“Seven Samurai” — Japan
Akira Kurosawa’s best-known film, “Seven Samurai,” was set in a small mountain village attacked by bandits. Kurosawa filmed on Japan’s Izu Peninsula — although it wasn’t a real place. Film crews built an entire isolated set to bring the village to life. The location is now part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.
“The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” — Tampico, Mexico
This 1948 adventure movie starring Humphrey Bogart was done almost completely on location. While hunting for the wealths hidden in the Sierra Madre mountains, the film crosses plenty of terrain in Mexico, including Tampico, Acapulco and the famous mountains themselves. For shots that couldn’t be done down in Mexico, film crews shot in Arizona and California.
“Bicycle Thieves” — Rome
“Bicycle Thieves” is often considered one of the finest works of mid-20th century Italian film. It takes place in Rome, in the aftermath of World War II. In the movie, a young father and son traverse the city looking for a stolen bicycle. Together they search many of Rome’s Val Melania neighborhood, including the Via Salaria, Piazza Vittoria and the Porta Pia Piazza.
“The 400 Blows” — Paris
Francois Truffaut's directorial debut followed a young boy as he descends into a life of crime, mainly on Paris’s right bank. Antoine (as the main character is called) is supposed to attend school and live in Paris’s 9th arrondissement. Throughout the film, Antoine runs around the sites of Paris, visiting Sacre Coeur, the Grands Boulevards and even the Champs-Elysees.
“A Streetcar Named Desire” — New Orleans
While most of the movie was shot in studio, there are some shots that place “A Streetcar Named Desire” in New Orleans proper. Visitors can visit the Bienville Train Station and visit the footprint of the former Desire streetcar line.
“Rosemary’s Baby” — New York City
The Upper West Side isn’t all glamour. Roman Polanski’s haunting film gave (yet another) spooky legacy to New York’s famous Dakota Building, which you can gawk at on Central Park West. Throughout the film, Mia Farrow also went to several big New York City buildings including the former Time & Life building in midtown, the Newsweek Building on 50th Street and Tiffany’s jewelry store on Fifth Avenue.
“La La Land” — Los Angeles
Whether dining at Grand Central Market or riding the Angel’s Flight funicular, “La La Land” gives viewers a whirlwind tour of everything Los Angeles — even right down to being stuck in traffic on the freeway.
“Vertigo” — San Francisco
Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” used San Francisco’s winding streets and tall landmarks as both a backdrop and plot device in this 1958 film noir classic. The Golden Gate Bridge, the Biltmore Hotel and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor all play crucial roles in the movie. Outside of the city, film crews visited California landmarks like the San Juan Bautista Mission and the Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
“The Babadook” — Adelaide, Australia
Although director Jennifer Kent once said that she was proud “The Babadook” had a more universal appeal (as opposed to feeling strictly like an Australian film), the horror flick is rooted firmly in Adelaide, Australia. Film crews went to a nursing home in Adelaide, out on the streets and in the Adelaide Studios to shoot the suburban thriller.
“Gone With The Wind” — California
For a movie so deeply rooted in the South, all of “Gone With the Wind” was actually shot out West, mostly in a Hollywood studio. However there were a few location scenes. The barbeque at Twelve Oaks was shot at the Busch Gardens estate in Pasadena while the outdoor scenes at Tara were shot in Northern California in Chico, about 90 miles north of Sacramento. The scene where Scarlett decries that she’ll “never be hungry again” was shot early in the morning at Lasky Mesa in Northwest L.A.
“L.A. Confidential” — Los Angeles
For people who don’t believe that Los Angeles holds onto its history, “L.A. Confidential” is proof of the opposite. Although the movie was set in the 1950s, it was shot almost entirely on location in 1997 in historic L.A. spots. The film visits the Frolic Room, the Formosa Cafe, Los Angeles City Hall and Hollywood’s historic streets.
“The Good, the Bad & the Ugly” — Andalucia, Spain
Spaghetti Westerns were renowned for the international production. Directed by Italian Sergio Leone and shot mainly in Spain, “The Good, the Bad & the Ugly” transformed the landscapes of Andalucia into the wild west. Most of the battle scenes were shot in Castilla y León, but film crews did also venture out to Granada and Madrid to shoot some of the more urban scenes.
“Lawrence of Arabia” — Morocco
This epic 1962 movie shot all around some of the most impressive landscapes of Northern Africa. Following the real life story of T.E. Lawrence around the Arabian Peninsula during World War I, the film visits Sevilla, Morocco, Jordan and even up to England.
“Jaws” — Martha’s Vineyard
In 1974, then-up-and-coming director Steven Spielberg transformed Martha’s Vineyard into the fictional coastal town of Amity. The opening scene was shot on the island’s South Beach while the swimming beach (and where Alex Kintner is attacked) was on the northern side of the island at Joseph Sylvia State Beach. Some of Martha’s Vineyard’s actual local places (like the Town Hall, hardware store and bike rental shop) all stood in for Amity.
“The Grapes of Wrath” — American Southwest
The story of the Joad family travels from Oklahoma to California was shot pretty much all on location. Starting in McAlester, Oklahoma, the Joads traverse the Southwest, passing through Albuquerque, New Mexico; Winslow, Arizona; across the Colorado River and finally ending up on the Fox Studio Lot in Los Angeles.
“Tokyo Story” — Tokyo
Although relatively unknown to many American audiences, Yasujirō Ozu’s 1953 story about parents who travel to Tokyo to visit their children is regarded by many as one of the best movies ever made. The black-and-white film captured Tokyo’s crowded noodle bars and screened houses. Outside of the capital, Ozu also shot in Onomichi and Atami.
“The Hurt Locker” — Jordan
Kathryn Bigelow’s 2008 film about the Iraq War was actually shot mostly in Jordan. Although scouts had considered filming the desert scenes in Morocco, Bigelow wanted the film to be as authentic as possible. Amman stood in for Baghdad while some of the other scenes were shot elsewhere in Jordan, just a few miles from the Iraqi border.
“The Wrestler” — New Jersey
The story of a wrestler who is too old for his job was shot across New Jersey in several authentic locations. The strip club where Marisa Tomei’s character works is a real club in Linden called Cheeques — complete with the cheeky logo that appears in the film. When Mickey Rourke’s character ends up in the hospital, it was the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Rahway. Filming also took place in Asbury Park, Dover and Elizabeth, New Jersey.
“Army of Shadows” — France
Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1969 film about the underground resistance movie in Nazi-occupied France was shot on location as often as possible. The characters meet up secretly down in Marseilles, venture up to the Free French headquarters in London, escape prison in Lyon and go on covert missions in Paris’s eighth arrondissement.