These days, while many Hollywood blockbusters are shot behind closed doors in high-tech studios, film production teams continue to venture out into the real world to find locations that bring that movie magic to life.
From historic castles, Art Nouveau department stores, Caribbean ports and Parisian cafes, here are some of the best real life movie sets you can visit right now:
13 Real Life Movie Sets To Visit:
1. 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' (2014)
Location: Görlitzer Warenhaus Department Store, Germany
For The Grand Budapest Hotel, director Wes Anderson decided to inject his quirky charm into a variety of real life locations for his movie — the Art Nouveau Görlitzer Warenhaus Department Store in Germany just happened to be one of them.
Apparently, when the production designer Adam Stockhausen stumbled upon the structure, filled to the brim with winding stairways, intricately decorated elevators and a spacious atrium, he said:
"It's perfect. Just perfect. [...] The columns, the staircases, that really magnificent window and that huge chandelier, that was already there, that's all original. We built everything else."
These days the department store is undergoing renovations so keep an eye on when it will be re-opening to visitors in 2017.
2. 'Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone' (2001)
Location: Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, Great Britain
Although the true production home of the #HarryPotter franchise is situated just outside of London at Leavesden Studios, numerous locations all over the United Kingdom were also used as a backdrop to J. K. Rowling's series .
In particular, Alnwick Castle had a starring role as it was the perfect stand-in for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Notably, Harry's first Quidditch lesson was filmed here, as well as the disastrous crash-landing of the flying Ford Anglia into the Whomping Willow.
Thankfully, these days you don't even need a letter delivered by owl for permission to wander the real life movie set.
(Image Source: Smudge 9000)
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3. 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' (2013)
Location: Henry River Mill Village in North Carolina, USA
Venture down to North Carolina to experience what it would be like to live in the real District 12, as seen in The Hunger Games franchise. Although you're likely to come face-to-face with fewer children dying of starvation on the town's street, the houses where Katniss Everdeen and her mate Peeta allegedly lived in are still standing.
Having said that though, considering the buildings are situated on private property, perhaps your best bet would be to just watch this behind-the-scenes video:
4. 'The Hobbit' (2012)
Location: Matamata, New Zealand
Next time you find yourself on the other side of the world in New Zealand, why not pop over to Middle Earth itself near Matamata on the North Island. Right there, on the rolling hills of farmland amidst the baa-ing sheep, you can step into the lush pastures of the Shire and peruse Hobbiton, where much of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were filmed.
Featuring numerous real movie sets and 17 actual Hobbit holes, it's also home to the Green Dragon Inn.
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5. 'Girl, Interrupted' (1999)
Location: Harrisburg State Hospital in Pennsylvania, USA
Many of the buildings at the Harrisburg State Hospital in Pennsylvania were used as the real life movie set for Girl, Interrupted, starring Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder. In particular, the Male Convalescent Building and the Administration Building stood in for the grounds of the McLean Hospital in Massachusetts.
Although the hospital was still active when the movie was filmed, it isn't today and some of the props created for the feature can still be found – the "Administration" sign at the front of the Admin Building being one of them.
6. 'Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl' (2003)
Location: Wallilabou Anchorage, St. Vincent in Jamaica
When Johnny Depp drunkenly docked his half-sunken boat at Port Royal, he probably had no idea how iconic the Pirates of the Caribbean movie set would become.
These days, thousands travel to Wallilabou Bay on the island of St. Vincent and although the set of The Curse of the Black Pearl doesn't really exist anymore, you can still find many of the props scattered around, including replicas of cannons.
And despite the fact that the island has been ravaged by hurricanes over the last decade or so, the locals are still determined to keep up swashbuckling appearances — apparently, they even run a working tavern, where fans of the franchise can channel Captain Jack Sparrow and get pissed out of their wits on rum.
7. 'The Sound of Music' (1965)
Location: Hellbrunn Palace, Austria
On the other hand, if you're just 16-going-on-17, make like Liesl von Trapp and head down to Austria's Hellbrunn Palace to prance around that famed gazebo with a young Nazi that clearly doesn't give a shit about you. Maybe don't get drenched in the rain, though:
8. 'Amélie' (2001)
Location: Café des 2 Moulins in Paris, France
Finding yourself in the City of Love, toddle down to Café des 2 Moulins – French for "Two Windmills" – to visit the place where shy waitress Amélie Poulain once found contentment in life's simple pleasures and let her broad imagination roam free.
Located in a charming area of Montmartre at the junction of Rue Lepic and Rue Cauchois, this is a real life movie set that continues to function as a cafe.
9. 'The Shining' (1980)
Location: Timberline Lodge in Oregon, USA
It may come as no surprise that true fans of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining flock to the Timberline Lodge in Oregon to relive the unsettling vibes of the creepy Overlook Hotel featured in the movie.
Word of warning though, don't even bother asking if you can stay in room #217 because Kubrick was specifically asked to not depict it out of fears that Lodge guests might be too afraid to stay there.
10. 'Jaws' (1975)
Location: Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, USA
You can also now visit the waters that played host to the most traumatizing sea monster that ever lived – Jaws.
Martha's Vineyard in New England can only be assessed by boat or air but is home to one of the most famous real life movie sets you can visit on the East Coast. From Quint's shack site, to the scene of the first attack, Chief Brody's house, Harry's bike shop and the ferry dock, it's all there for your visiting pleasure.
11. 'The Beach' (2000)
Location: Ko Phi Phi Leh, Thailand
Remember when a slightly demented #LeonardoDiCaprio became determined to find true paradise in the tranquil waters of Thailand? Well, you can now find it too.
Although less idyllic now considering what the last couple of decades have done for the Thai tourism industry, fans of The Beach can find the beach and its sugar-soft white sands on the glorious island of Ko Phi Phi Leh. Thankfully, these days you don't have even have to scare yourself shitless by swimming there yourself but can actually take the ferry like a normal person.
(Image Source: Vyacheslav Argenberg)
12. 'A Christmas Story' (1983)
Location: 3159 W. 11th Street, Cleveland in Ohio, USA
Despite the fact that yuletide classic A Christmas Story is set in Indiana, the shots of the The Parkers' home were actually filmed miles away in Cleveland, Ohio.
These days, Ralphie's house is open to the public and is an adorable museum full of original props and memorabilia, all paying tribute to the festive story. Oh, and there's even a Chinese food joint down the road in case you want to indulge in that extra burst of nostalgia.
(Image Source: Tim Evanson)
13. 'Dazed And Confused' (1993)
Location: Top Notch in Austin, Texas
All the teens love to hang out at Top Notch in '90s cult classic Dazed and Confused and you should be no exception. So, why not go, get blazed and grab a burger today?
(Image Source: Gino)
Which real life movie set would you love to visit first?
(Image Source: Header Image by Florian Bugiel)