A ballpark, a zoo, an amusement park—any of them can attract newvisitors to small town or city. But these days, having somezombies, resident vampires, or the occasional pirate around towncan provide an immediate boost to tourism.
Take Senoia, Georgia, for instance: as the home of manylocations from the wildly popular AMC zombie apocalypse series “Walking Dead,” the town of 3,300 has welcomed so many undead-lovingvisitors that there is talk of building a five-star hotel.
Certainly, plenty of famous TV shows and movies have filmed inestablished destinations, too—such as “Gossip Girl,” one of manyseries to film around NYC. But to add a unique flash to your nextfamily vacation—and help kids better connect with a destination—consider exploring the locations from one of their favorite moviesor TV shows. Here are five spots with rich Hollywood connectionsthat kids and teens will love:
“The Hunger Games”: North Carolina
To walk in the shoes of the warriors in “The Hunger Games,” you’ll have to do a little hiking in the lushly treed area betweenAsheville and Charlotte.At the 10,400-acre Dupont State Forest, you can see where Katnissgets thwarted by a forest fire, and where the wounded Peeta isdiscovered at Triple Falls. You can also check out the site wherethe survival games happened—along edge of the North Fork Reservoir—if you hike the Craggy Pinnacle Trail, beginning at the CraggyGardens Visitor Center off the BlueRidge Parkway.
“Walking Dead”: Atlanta environs
You can’t tour the studio where much of the series films, but anumber of Georgia towns are making the most of their undeadconnections. About 35 miles south of Atlanta,the town of Senoia doubles as the town of Woodbury, while Haralson(which also has its share of Civil War history), five miles furthersouth, features the local Cotton Gin Complex that stands in as theEsco Feed Mill on the show. Meanwhile, 24 miles west of Senoia, inGrantville—site of the “Clear” episode, where Rick, Carl andMichonne prepare for battle with the Governor —there’s azombie-phile gift shop, and the mayor of the town gives freewalking tours on weekends. You can also take a larger tour ($45 perperson) that showcases other films with history here, including “Gone with the Wind,” “Driving Miss Daisy,” and “Blindside.”
The “Twilight” series: Forks, WA
This Olympic Peninsula town, 140 miles west of Seattle,boasts of being the rainiest place in America—and perhaps that’swhat makes it an ideal spot for solar-phobic vampires to thrive.The hometown of the “Twilight” books and movies makes it easy forfans to explore by detailing locations on the local tourismwebsite: you can check out Bella and Edward’s alma mater, ForksHigh School, the City Hall where Bella’s dad works and ForksMemorial Hospital, where the vampire Dr. Cullen even has his ownparking sign. Lodgings include the Miller Tree Inn, nicknamed theCullen House for its similarity to the vampire home in thebooks.
“The Amazing Race,” “Pirates of the Caribbean”:Kauai
Hollywood meets paradise in Kauai,and the Hawaiian tourist board website proudly lists all of its TVand movie connections: The National Tropical Botanical Garden wherepart of “Jurassic Park” was filmed; the Napali Coast claims scenesof “Pirates of the Caribbean”; and Wailua Falls has been the sitefor “The Amazing Race,” “Tropic Thunder” and—way back when—“FantasyIsland.” Tour company Roberts Hawaii will take you on a day-longtour ($89 per adult, $45 per child ages 4-11) through a dozen ofsuch locations, and intersperse video clips from the movies and TVshows.
“Gossip Girl”: New York City
Plenty of backdrops used in this young-socialite series arespots that families might want to check out anyway, from the EmpireState Building to Dylan’os Candy Bar in Times Square. Yet one tour by On Location ($42per person) takes you on a close-up look of the Van de Woodsens’stomping grounds on the Upper East Side, including theNightingale-Bamford School, the alma mater of “Gossip Girl” authorCecily von Ziegesar and inspiration for the fictional The ConstanceBillard School for Girls.
KatrinaBrown Hunt contributed this to MiniTime.com.
- 10Dinosaur Attractions Kids Will Dig
- FranklyClassic: 6 Historic Hot Dog Joints
- 6Fab Fall Weekend Festivals for Families
- 5Irresistible September Getaways
- 5Places to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Arts & Entertainment