These U.S. Movie Locations Double As Awesome Summer Travel Spots


Around these parts, we’re big fans of the spontaneous road trip. Throw a toothbrush and some clean underwear in a paper grocery sack and see where you end up by the time your eyelids start to droop. Skip the map and head for the hills or the desert or the coast. All you need is a vague idea of where to go. A little spark of inspiration. An interesting thread to follow, a food you long to try, or… oh, hell, you saw the title and know where this is headed: a beloved movie that captivates you.

For this round of road trip inspo, we focused on American movie locations. The Atlantic and Pacific coasts are represented, plus a national park, a handful of resorts, and a few big cities. Of course, going to the spots where they filmed your favorite scene and grabbing some pics while pretending to be an Ewok or evade a great white is a must on these trips. But these locales are all cool enough to entertain you for far longer than the thirty minutes it takes to snap fan photos for the ‘gram.

The Homestead Crater in Midway, Utah — 127 Hours

Given that 127 Hours is the distressing true story of Aron Ralston’s experience of being trapped in a canyon with his arm stuck under a boulder, most viewers really focused on the fact that he has to sever a portion of his arm in order to escape certain death, rather than the whole “this place is lovely” aspect. But if you looked past the narrative tension and took in the settings, you probably already know why we picked this spot. Plus, the subterranean pool part comes really early and the arm thing isn’t even an issue at that point.

At the start of the film, Ralston (James Franco) meets two hikers (Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn) and the three of them take a dive via a 55-foot drop into a pool. That pool is the natural hot spring known as the Homestead Crater, and it is located in the Homestead Resort. You have to make reservations to soak and dive in the crater, but as it’s the only warm scuba diving destination in the continental U.S. and it makes for absolutely awesome pics, it’s totally worth it.

Top Notch in Austin, Texas — Dazed and Confused

This Richard Linklater coming of age film follows a group of teenagers on their last day of school in 1976. It was filmed heavily in Austin, so you can broaden our destination advice to include the whole city if you want to. However, we think the Top Notch is easily the most recognizable filming location in the movie, and how many people really want to look for an Airbnb just because it’s near Mike Newhouse’s house?

Instead, find your own cool stuff to do in Austin (which is a bit of a cool stuff hub) and stop into the Top Notch for a charcoal-grilled burger, some fries, and a shake. The restaurant is still in business, and it’s really popular among both Austinites and fans of Dazed and Confused. They also host live music and hot rod shows, so you can indulge your inner gearhead. Plus, if you hang out long enough, maybe someone will invite you to a party at the Moontower.

Dinosaurs in Cabazon, California — Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

Clearly, The Alamo is the destination in this film that really stands out as a tourist stop, but as the interior shots used in the film were actually in Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana in Los Angeles, going to Texas wouldn’t really help you recreate Pee-wee magic. Also, these are really large dinosaur statues we’re talking about. They make for some of the best photos on Instagram simply because of their large size and rather desolate setting.