Best Road Trips for Movie Lovers

Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco are all great road trip destinations for movie lovers. Read this article to find the best road trips for movie lovers.
Written by Olivia Rose
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
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Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco are all phenomenal road trip destinations for movie lovers. These cities offer sight-seeing opportunities and experiences related to all of your favorite films—and are bound to keep you entertained throughout your entire road trip!
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Read on for details on some of the best road trip destinations for film lovers.
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Los Angeles

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles
As the film capital of the U.S., Los Angeles is the go-to travel destination for movie lovers. The list of movies filmed in LA could go on forever, but we’ve thrown together some of the classics.

Movies filmed in Los Angeles:

  • The Terminator (1984)
  • The Karate Kid (1984)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
  • Rain Man (1988)
  • Pretty Woman (1990)
  • Pulp Fiction (1994)
  • Clueless (1995)
  • The Nutty Professor (1996)
  • The Big Lebowski (1998)
  • Die Hard (1998)
  • The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  • 50 First Dates (2004)
  • Tropic Thunder (2008)
  • The Hangover (2009)
  • (500) Days of Summer (2009)
  • Super 8 (2011)
  • The Artist (2011)

Entertainment for movie lovers in LA

  • If you’re looking for some conventional movie tourism, check out a film studio and celebrity homes tour before making your way through the city.
    Warner Brothers Studios
    is a popular destination where you can appreciate the production company responsible for some of your favorite films— think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), The Dark Knight Rises (2013), and Inception (2010).
  • Griffith Observatory
    —used as a filming location in The Terminator—gives you a great view of the idyllic Hollywood sign. There’s a bit of a hike up to Griffith Observatory from
    Griffith Park
    below, but the observatory gives stunning views of the city, which is why it was featured in films like Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Transformers (2007), and La La Land (2016).
  • Cinephiles will appreciate the
    Egyptian Theater
    , which hosted Hollywood’s first movie premiere in 1922.
  • Stop by the
    Hollywood Forever Cemetery,
    where some of your favorite stars (like Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino, and Cecil B. DeMille) are laid to rest.
  • You can check out the
    Margaret Herrick Library
    , which is maintained by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The library pays homage to loads of film history and includes items like historic movie posters and scripts from classic films—a treasure trove for classic film lovers!
Key Takeaway Los Angeles proves a great road trip destination for contemporary and classic movie lovers alike.
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New York City

Times Square, New York City
New York City rivals LA in being the film capital of the nation. If you’re into the old classics, NYC is the place for you—New York holds a much older film history than LA, and the city’s roots reach back much further. Plus, New York still maintains its status as one of the top two cities for the entertainment industry, so you can’t go wrong here!

Movies filmed in NYC:

  • Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
  • Portrait of Jennie (1949)
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
  • West Side Story (1961)
  • Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
  • Taxi Driver (1976)
  • Manhattan (1979)
  • Tootsie (1982)
  • Ghostbusters (1984)
  • Big (1988)
  • When Harry Met Sally (1989)
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
  • Hitch (2005)
  • I Am Legend (2007)
  • Enchanted (2007)

Entertainment for movie lovers in NYC

If you take a road trip to NYC, you’ll find out soon enough that you might be better off parking your car for a few days and experiencing the city by foot and public transit.
  • Take a ride on the subway and grab a bite to eat at
    Katz’s Delicatessen
    , featured in When Harry Met Sally (1989).
  • Next, you might want to swing by the
    NYC Hook and Ladder 8 Fire Station
    , which functioned as the home base in the Ghostbusters franchise (you can also catch it in Hitch and an episode of Seinfeld). The fire station is still in use today, so you can’t go inside—but it makes for a great photo opportunity!
  • A trip to NYC isn’t complete without a stroll through Central Park, one of the most popular filming locations in NYC. The park has been featured prominently in films like Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), Enchanted (2007), Serendipity (2001), and Portrait of Jennie (1949).
  • Grand Central Station
    , another hot-spot tourist location, will probably be bustling, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you’ve made it all the way to NYC. This iconic terminal has been a filming location for countless films, including Superman: The Movie (1978), North by Northwest (1959), Men in Black (1997), and I Am Legend (2007).
  • For some fun for the whole family, take a gander through the
    American Museum of Natural History
    . Though it’s not an actual filming location, the museum was used as inspiration for the set of Night at the Museum (2006).
  • Don’t end your trip without stopping by
    Times Square
    , the major commercial intersection that can be seen in The Terminal (2004), Taxi Driver (1976), The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Wonder (2017), and Spider-Man (2002).
Key Takeaway All movie lovers will enjoy New York’s wholesome homage to the film industry.
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Chicago, Illinois
Don’t be fooled—movie lovers can find ample vacation entertainment outside of LA and NYC. Chicago, for instance, has all the sites and destinations you need for an enjoyable road trip for movie lovers.

Movies filmed in Chicago:

  • The Sting (1973)
  • The Blues Brothers (1980)
  • Risky Business (1983)
  • Sixteen Candles (1984)
  • Pretty in Pink (1986)
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
  • Home Alone (1990)
  • A League of Their Own (1992)
  • The Fugitive (1993)
  • Groundhog Day (1993)
  • While You Were Sleeping (1995)
  • My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)
  • High Fidelity (2000)
  • Road to Perdition (2002)
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
  • I, Robot (2004)
  • Batman Begins (2005)
  • Stranger than Fiction (2006)
  • The Dark Knight (2008)

Entertainment for movie lovers in Chicago

  • Stop by the former IBM building at 330 N. Wabash Ave, which was used for Wayne Enterprises in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008). The film also shows Batman looking out over the city from the top of
    Willis Tower
    . If you take a cab through Lower Wacker Drive in the downtown area, you’ll drive by the filming locations for some of the Joker’s chase scenes from the film.
  • For some entertainment that will prove doubly interesting, visit the
    Art Institute of Chicago
    , where Bueller takes his friends in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986). In the film, Bueller catches a Cubs game at
    Wrigley Field
    , looks down over the city from a top floor of Skydeck Chicago, and parades down Dearborn Street—all locations you can visit on your Chicago road trip.
  • Chicago hosts
    Free Tours by Foot
    , tours you can take through the city to see various Chicago movie hotspots — or, try out
    Chicago Film Tour
    for guided movie tours through the city!
Key Takeaway Like LA and NYC, Chicago is bound to keep movie lovers fully entertained.
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San Francisco

San Francisco, California
For an East-Coast feeling on the West Coast, consider San Francisco for your next road trip. With numerous film locations and unique theatrical offerings, San Fran can fill your time with lots of movie fun.
Movies filmed in San Francisco:
  • Vertigo (1958)
  • The Graduate (1967)
  • Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
  • Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
  • Fearless (1993)
  • The Princess Diaries (2001)
  • Milk (2008)
  • Steve Jobs (2015)
  • Beautiful Boy (2018)

Entertainment for movie lovers in SF

  • Alcatraz
    —the once high-profile, high-security prison featured in Escape from Alcatraz (1979)—is still here! No longer an operating prison, Alcatraz now serves as a popular tourist destination. Take a ferry through the brisk bay to the island and get a guided tour through the prison.
  • And no road trip to San Francisco is complete without a stroll on the Golden Gate Bridge. Check out
    Fort Point
    under the bridge (as seen in Vertigo). You can also stop by the steps of City Hall, where Sean Penn delivers a galvanizing speech in Milk (2008).
  • Catch a film screening at the famous
    Castro Theater
    , a historical landmark in SF. The theater was built in 1922 and reflects the Spanish colonial style of the nearby Mission Dolores. Or, view a showing at
    Sundance Kabuki Cinema
    , a Japanese-inspired theater with a cocktail bar and reserved seating.
Key Takeaway San Francisco is a great road trip stop for movie lovers.
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How to prepare for a road trip

Now that you’ve decided to hit the road for your next movie-inspired road trip, you need to make sure that you’re all prepared.
First things first: make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. The
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For your next road trip, make sure you also have
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Where should movie lovers road trip in the U.S.?

Los Angeles and New York are the most prominent travel destinations for movie lovers, and both offer an array of entertainment activities involving your favorite films and actors. But, Chicago and San Francisco are also more hidden gems that should be experienced by all movie lovers.

How should I plan for my next road trip?

First, pick a destination. Then, make sure you have good insurance coverage and emergency roadside assistance so that you can be prepared and feel at ease when you hit the road.
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