Wouldn’t you love to dance on the same stage as Napoleon Dynamite, catch a pass on the same field as the Dillon Panthers, or escape from a headless horseman under the same covered bridge as Ichabod Crane?
Here, we’ve compiled a list of small town movie sets that offer not only the chance to recreate photos from your favourite movies, but top attractions, sightseeing and eateries!
Start planning your next Hollywood-inspired trip, and don’t forget to book a rental on FlipKey for your stay!
The Plot: Star-crossed teens overcome life’s roadblocks and dementia to find everlasting love.
The Setting: Noah and Allie spend quiet, humid nights falling in love on a country cottage’s front porch as crickets buzz. From the carnival scene to the swan-flanked rowboat rides, Wadmalaw Island comes off as nothing short of picturesque.
Visit The Real Town: You’ll find an overwhelming sense of peace, and a lot of fine Southern hospitality in Wadmalaw Island. For those who love an afternoon tea, take a trolley tour around the Charleston Tea Plantation, which offers free admission. Prefer something stronger? Take a tour at Firefly Distillery and try the sweet tea vodka. Once you’ve drank your fill, stop in to Ambrose Family Farm for lunch or dinner.
The Plot: A shy high school girl tries to choose between two supernatural suitors: a werewolf and a vampire.
The Setting: The dramatic seascapes and towering forests found in the coastal Northwest set a larger-than-life scene in Twilight.
Visit The Real Town: For a more natural trip, come visit Forks. A visit to the “Tree of Life”, a suspended roots-visible tree, is more magic than nature. How has it survived for hundreds of years with no soil? It’s a mystery! After your pilgrimage to the tree, keep your hiking boots on and visit Bogachiel State Park. Locals say, “it isn’t the end of the world, but you can see it from there.” Lastly, if you want to spend time inside, learning about outside, see the newly built Rainforest Arts Center.
The Plot: A ragtag group of youths embark on a treasure hunt while finding themselves and outsmarting bad guys.
The Setting: A small town neighborhood setting gives way to more natural backdrops as the movie’s grand adventure takes the characters underground and out into the Oregon unknown.
Visit The Real Town: Blue collar people and an interesting frontier history shine in Astoria. Visit the Flavel House Museum to see how one of the wealthiest early settlers in Astoria lived.Discover the stories of the legendary Columbia River Bar, one of the most dangerous passages in the world, at the nationally renowned Columbia River Maritime Museum. And , after a long day of exploring, stop in to Buoy Beer Company for a tall beer brewed by real, hard-working Oregonians.
The Plot: Two guys need to save their basement TV show and their girlfriends from becoming too corporate when a network executive tries to steal both.
The Setting: From Wayne’s basement to cruising around the streets singing Bohemian Rhapsody in an iconic film moment, Aurora adds the perfect small town touch to these loveable losers.
Visit The Real Town: Aurora is a kid-friendly destination with lots to see and do for all the family. Head to Blackberry Farm, where pioneer life is re-created through educational demonstrations and hands-on fun. Admission to Blackberry Farm includes unlimited rides on the train, hay wagon, pedal tractors, paddle boats, carousel and ponies. Travel through time and see how our everyday heroes used to put out dangerous flames at the Aurora Regional Fire Museum. Observe mammals, reptiles, and birds at the Phillips Park Zoo, one of the top-rated attractions in Aurora on TripAdvisor.
The Plot: Big city detective is hired by spooky small town folk to find out why people are being decapitated by a ghoul on horseback.
The Setting: This story takes place in 1799 in a cursed town called Sleepy Hollow. The only thing more frightening than the blackened storefronts is the haunted woods and those who dwell within.
Visit The Real Town: Once the sun comes up in Sleepy Hollow, you’ll realize the history here is not all doom and gloom. At Philipsburg Manor, travelers can tour a 300-year-old home, where period artifacts and touchable reproductions give you an understanding of the people who once lived and worked here. For a more active walk through history, walk around the Old Croton Aqueduct, where visitors and locals alike have worn down a path for 165 years.
The Plot: After his brother’s death, a man returns to his hometown to raise his nephew and tie up emotional loose ends.
The Setting: This Massachusetts coastal town serves as the setting for this moving film. You can feel the salt air and the New England winter sorrow permeate every scene.
Visit The Real Town: Despite the lousy weather half the year, Manchester-by-the-Sea has options for those who prefer an active vacation. At Coolidge Reservation, hikers head past a scenic pond and through a small forest of pine and oak to reach a spectacular seaside lawn offering memorable views of Massachusetts Bay and the North Shore. During the warmer months, throw on your wetsuit and dive into the Atlantic with Surfari Stand Up Paddle and Surf. And once you’ve worked up an appetite, refuel at Superfine Food, one of the top-rated restaurants in Manchester-by-the-Sea on TripAdvisor.
The Plot: A cop investigates a series of grisly murders, that turn out to be more complicated than imagined, ordered by a slippery car salesman.
The Setting: The frozen tundra of Fargo, North Dakota takes center stage in this offbeat, dark comedy. Beyond the aching cold, the unceasing midwestern accents create a memorable setting.
Visit The Real Town: Drinking to stay warm is an old pastime in Fargo, and there’s no better place than the Blarney Stone Irish Pub in West Fargo. For those seeking more of midwestern culture, you’ll love what’s on exhibit at the Plains Art Museum. At the Red River Zoo, visitors can see cold-climate animals like the grey wolf or red panda, making winter in Fargo the perfect season to come see them.
The Plot: Through an unorthodox support group, a new best friend, and an anarchist scheme, a soft-spoken man finds himself. Or does he?
The Setting: Although not overt, enough clues are sprinkled throughout the film—business cards, license plates—to know Fight Club is set in Wilmington.
Visit The Real Town: Before you start a fight with strangers in a basement, you’ll need a hearty meal. You can find one at Chelsea Tavern in Wilmington. If you’re here for a normal trip with the kids though, try the Brandywine Zoo or Delaware Children’s Museum for a puppet show – both are highly rated attractions.
The Plot: An underdog boxer fights his way through debilitating family issues to his one big shot at the title.
The Setting: Another Massachusetts town makes our list, this time in working-class Lowell. The citizens are fiercely loyal and just plain fierce.
Visit The Real Town: To start the day off right in Lowell, stop in to Life Alive Urban Oasis & Organic Cafe for your breakfast and a cup of coffee. Use that coffee buzz to make record time biking on the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. Lowell was the birthplace of famous artist James Whistler and his childhood home has been turned into an art museum.
The Plot: The gathering of old college friends for a funeral brings out their real personalities.
The Setting: In The Big Chill, and in Beaufort, Southern hospitality shines on the screen. Eight college friends reunite, fight, and find themselves in a stately antebellum vacation home.
Visit The Real Town: Visitors can learn about historic Beaufort at the aptly named Beaufort History Museum. After all, the seeds of Civil War were planted here. Beaufort also boasts many untold stories, such as the account of the first European capital established in the New World on nearby Parris Island, which you can learn about at the Santa Elena History Center. Want to enjoy the South Carolina weather? Head to Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. This multi-acre park provides a breathtaking view of the Beaufort River and the northern tip of Parris Island.
The Plot: An awkward loner learns to dance, perfects upper lip shading, and earns the respect of his peers.
The Setting: The dry, rolling hills and the endless bus rides to school (not to mention the rural farm Napoleon lives on raising Alpacas) set the small town vibe.
Visit The Real Town: The almost 6,000 residents of Preston have a fierce love of their fair city. In July of each year, they flock out to the Preston Night Rodeo (the first of its kind) to see bucking broncos and battered clowns. They fish for rainbow trout at the Glendale Reservoir (almost 5,000 feet above sea level), and they pay their respects to fallen Native Americans at the Bear River Massacre site.