Because of generous tax breaks and its relatively diverse landscapes, Atlanta has served as the backdrop for a host of popular TV shows (The Walking Dead) and movies (Hunger Games series) over the past decade. Almost every direction you look around town these days, you’ll see an orange placard pointing to an active set. While you could wait around on a street corner for hours in an attempt to sneak a peek at the action, we know of a much better way to get closer to movies. By visiting sites where a film was shot, you not only get to walk in the footsteps of the stars but you can play director, too, and act out your own scenes. Cinephiles, we can’t guarantee any A-list sightings in Atlanta, Nantucket or London, but if you stick to the following scripts, we promise you’ll create some Hollywood-worthy magic.
Movie: Point Break
Any surfer worth his board knows Jaws surf break at Pe’ahi beach on Maui. Why? It consistently has some of the biggest waves in the world, which is why big-name surfers flock here when it’s going off and also why the Point Break remake released in late December was in part filmed there. To be close enough to make it to the shoreline when Jaws is roaring (you’ll want to check local surf reports) book a room at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. Aside from providing a good location and a gorgeous backdrop for your trip, the Five-Star hotel will school newbies in two-hour surf classes with the island’s top wave riders, while intermediate and advanced students get a chance to test their mettle on surfing safaris.
Movie: In the Heart of the Sea
If Ron Howard’s flick about a whale that destroyed the Nantucket whaling ship Essex captured your attention, discover the true story’s origins. Herman Melville traveled to Nantucket after the tragic voyage to learn more about the story, which formed the basis for Moby Dick. He talked to survivors of the shipwreck, including Captain George Pollard, and stayed across from Pollard’s home at Jared Coffin House, a historic hotel that used to be the mansion of Jared Coffin, a whaling-ship owner. For more luxurious and modern accommodations, opt for Four-Stars The White Elephant or White Elephant Village, where cast members checked in during a press trip in fall 2014. All three hotels will help you find your seafaring spirit with the In the Heart of the Sea package, which includes two nights’ lodgings, a copy of In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick (the book that inspired the movie) and two tickets to the Nantucket Whaling Museum. The museum is a must, especially its Essex-themed “Stove by a Whale” exhibit, which follows the fate of the ship’s 20 sailors and showcases props and costumes used in the film.
Movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Site: Grand Junction, Colorado
Even if you haven’t gone on director J.J. Abrams’ interstellar ride to the planet Jakku in the new Star Wars, it’s okay to wonder what it would be like to soar to the heavens. Thanks to Gateway Canyons Resort, you no longer have to imagine; the inspired Colorado property’s Gateway to the Galaxy promotion is a Han Solo-approved bundle that includes a night in a Stargazer Casita and signature startinis upon check-in. While the box-office smash may have filmed in the United Kingdom, with your in-room telescope and constellation chart, celestial bodies will feel like they’re right on your personal deck. As if all that weren’t enough to put you in a Resistance pilot’s boots, the deal also comes with a private helicopter ride to a Star Wars showing in Grand Junction. Take that, Kylo Ren!
Movie: The Hateful Eight
Site: Telluride, Colorado
Quentin Tarantino’s Western/mystery revolves around a storm in the stunning snow-blanketed mountains of Wyoming. But this Southwestern Colorado town is what you’ll actually see in the film. The rugged San Juan Mountains have a starring role, as do the San Miguel River and the fourteeners surrounding Telluride. Explore the same wilderness areas where Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kurt Russell traversed, but be sure to visit the charming upscale town. The cast and crew frequented the New Sheridan Bar, beloved by locals, and 221 South Oak, a fine-dining restaurant from Eliza Gavin, who appeared in Top Chef season 10. Tarantino imbibed with the crew at There, a hip restaurant-bar that serves craft cocktails and eclectic tapas (though the director reportedly preferred O’Bannon’s dive bar as his drinking spot). Russell was a regular at Brown Dog Pizza, which serves addictive Detroit-style pies. For accommodations, The Inn at Lost Creek gives off a Western vibe with its timber columns, stone and handcrafted furnishings, and its slopeside location provides great access to skiing. Across the street, the personable staff at Four-Star Lumière Telluride will tailor an adventure to your liking, whether it be snowmobiling, ice climbing or heli-skiing. Leave the gun-slinging to Jackson and Russell.
Movie: Captain America: Civil War
While plot details were still coming together for this May 2016 release at press time, what we do know officially is that African prince T’Challa (aka Black Panther) will have an important role in the Marvel blockbuster. So will the city of Atlanta. “The Gulch,” a railroad corridor in the shadows of the Georgia Dome, was actually transformed into a developing nation’s market for the movie. When you get to the site, the dirt and makeshift village will be gone, but imagine taking selfies in the same spot where actors Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and Anthony Mackie battled bad guys. After you’ve re-created your moment, retreat three miles over to Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta. The Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel’s High Museum package lets you see the city’s cultural side with an overnight stay, a $50 hotel credit and two tickets to the world-renowned museum.
Site: Mexico City
The start of the latest James Bond installment released in November opens with a thrill-inducing Dia de los Muertos scene in Mexico City. If you’ve ever wanted to see the elaborate celebrations that make this Mexican holiday so popular, head to the capital for a slew of events from spontaneous parades to cemetery vigils. Four-Star The St. Regis Mexico City really comes to life during the end of October and beginning of November and is ideally located to hit up as many parties and cultural sites as possible (the hotel’s cultural curator can help you plan your celebration) before retiring in one of the sumptuous room’s comfortable beds. An alternative is Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F., the city’s veteran hotel, which recently underwent renovations. To look as sharp as Daniel Craig, head to the Four Seasons’ Gentlemen’s Tonic, the British brand’s first luxe barbershop in Latin America, and then swing by brand-new Fifty Mils bar for a martini.
Not only did The Langham, London serve as a filming location of this Bradley Cooper flick released at the end of October, the historic West End Four-Star hotel is also part of the plot. (Cooper’s a down-and-out chef who takes over the signature restaurant for a chance at redemption.) While the box office returns were disappointing, the gorgeous food featured in the film was not — to experience your own beautifully plated fare, hit up the hotel’s elegant Roux at The Landau for classic haute cuisine with plenty of eye-catching modern twists. Another stop to hit on this fine-dining movie tour is Marcus in the Four-Star Berkeley. It’s helmed by the well-respected Marcus Wareing, who taught Cooper and co-star Sienna Miller all of the culinary skills you see on screen, from shucking oysters to julienning vegetables, to make them look like believable chefs.