2022 Travel Trends: Film Tourism with Natural Retreats

If you're a movie aficionado, then you know that location is everything, just like in real estate— “location, location, location.” And when it comes to travel, film tourism is becoming an increasingly popular trend. Movies take us on a journey, introduce us to characters we grow to love, and sometimes leave us with questions that stick with us long after the credits roll. Imagine if you could visit some of your favorite movie locations in real life. Well, you can!

Film tourism, also known as movie-induced or cinematographic tourism, was once just studio tours and movie-related theme parks, but has grown to include authentic experiences based on actual filming locations. Now, movie buffs can discover new places based on the films they love—as the internet and social media have made it easier for fans to find the exact locations that have been used in their favorite movies.

Whether you're looking for the inspiration to plan your next vacation or simply want to vicariously explore some of the United States’ most beautiful destinations, here are some suggestions from Natural Retreats to get your wanderlust going:

"Top Gun: Maverick" was filmed in Lake Tahoe.

Stay with Natural Retreats on your film adventure.

Natural Retreats’ Destinations for Film Tourism (and Where to Stay)

Lake Tahoe | “Top Gun: Maverick”

Lake Tahoe is not only a beautiful natural setting, but it has also been the filming location for several popular movies. In 2018, Tom Cruise filmed a crucial winter action scene in Washoe Meadows State Park, located in South Lake Tahoe. The scene was the climax for the movie "Top Gun: Maverick" and required several helicopters to land in order to bring in the equipment needed to film. Working with the U.S. Forest Service, the crew was able to transform the area into a military base overlooking the airport runway. The result was an epic scene, full of action, showcasing Lake Tahoe's stunning scenery. For those looking for a unique film-watching experience unlike any other, visiting Lake Tahoe is a must.

Best place to stay, less than 1 hour from film location>>>

Several "The Hunger Games" scenes were filmed in the Smokies.

We have close lodging so you can visit the filming locations.

Great Smoky Mountains | “The Hunger Games”

If you're a fan of “The Hunger Games” movies (or the books), you'll be excited to know that several scenes from the films were shot near the Great Smokies, around the Asheville area of North Carolina. The breathtaking mountain scenery, panoramic views, and rushing mountain streams of Western North Carolina was the perfect setting for the dystopian future depicted in the movies. The Pisgah National Forest was used as the District 12 location where Gail and Katniss hunt, as well as the rocky creek surrounding Katniss and Peeta’s shelter. So if you're visiting the Great Smoky Mountains, be sure to keep an eye out for these iconic locations from “The Hunger Games” films.

Best place to stay, less than 2 hours from film location>>>

Palm Springs looks identical to part of Las Vegas.

Stay in Elrod Estate— down the road from where Ocean Eleven's filmed.

Palm Springs | “Ocean’s Eleven”

Palm Springs has been used in several films over the years due to its proximity to LA. Most notably, the 2001 "Ocean's Eleven" remake used Palm Springs as a look-alike for Vegas. In the film, a group of thieves led by George Clooney and Brad Pitt descend upon the home of former casino owner Reuben Tishkoff, played by Elliot Gould. The film's producer, Jerry Weintraub, selected the lavish Palm Springs home—in the Old Las Palmas neighborhood—since he was a Palm Desert resident and knew the area well. The filmmakers used the home’s sprawling backyard, trapezoid pool, front gate and carport, and mirror-and-rock walled living room to resemble a wealthy casino owner's home. This house and location were the perfect stand-ins for Vegas, which helped make this film a huge success.

Best place to stay, right down the street>>>

Montana offers a first-hand experience of “A River Runs Through It.”

Fly fishing in style with Natural Retreats lodging.

Big Sky | “A River Runs Through It”

If you're a fly fishing enthusiast and fan of the 1992 film "A River Runs Through It," add Montana to your list of travel destinations. Many of the movie's iconic scenes were filmed in and around Livingston, Bozeman, and parts of Yellowstone National Park. There's no better way to experience the film than by enjoying some fly fishing of your own in the very same spots where Robert Redford filmed those famous fishing scenes.

The Gallatin River was one of the prominent locations for the extensive fly fishing scenes in the movie, and today it remains a popular spot for anglers from all over the world. The Gallatin Canyon, located south of Bozeman, is a beautiful and scenic place to cast your line, as well as the Paradise Valley stretch of the Yellowstone River—which offers blue ribbon trout fishing. These waterways were meant to resemble the Big Blackfoot River, a tributary of the Missouri River, which runs through western Montana.

So if you're looking to recreate this classic film with some fly-fishing of your own, Montana is the perfect place to do it. With its Big Sky Country landscapes and large trout populations, Montana offers a first-hand experience of the movie that you won't soon forget.

Best place to stay, less than 1 hour from film location>>>

Carl and Ellie would be proud to share their "Up" home. [Photo Credit: therealuphouse.com]

Stay with Natural Retreats for easy access to the replica home.

Park City | Disney-Pixar’s “Up”

In Herriman, Utah—just an hour from Park City—you can visit an exact replica of Carl and Ellie's house from the movie "Up." The builder, Bangerter Homes, received exclusive rights and authorization from the Walt Disney Corporation to create this one-of-a-kind replica. Not only is the outside of the home identical to what you see in the movie, but the inside is too. In the backyard, you'll find Disney-inspired themed areas with characters from the movie.

It's the perfect spot for a photo op and is quickly becoming a popular destination for film tourism as it's a fun treat for fans.

If you're planning a visit, follow @uphouse on Instagram for tidbits about the house and the current owners. Note: While the house is open to visitors, it is still someone's private residence, so visitors should remain respectful at all times. The owners ask that you stay outside the fence and quickly take 1-3 pictures so that other visitors can enjoy the experience too. Photoshoots are available through reservations only, and they can be made here.

Best place to stay, less than 1 hour from film location>>>

Natural Retreats operates in 16 resort destinations in the U.S.

Our luxury properties have concierge services.

The Benefits of Traveling with Natural Retreats

Natural Retreats operates in some of America’s most beautiful and iconic destinations in the U.S., often near National Parks—making them the ideal destinations for film tourism. These destinations provide a chance to reconnect with nature and experience a sense of tranquility that is often hard to come by in our busy lives.

Beyond simply providing pretty backdrops for our favorite screen stories, Natural Retreats luxury properties also offer concierge services and resort-style amenities that remove the distractions of everyday life and allow you to relax and live in the moment. The most common thread between our homes isn’t the personalized care or ongoing support, it’s the exclusive experiences that create a lifetime of memories for you and yours.

If you're a fan of films, there's no better way to experience the magic of movies than by visiting the iconic filming locations in person. With our expansive collection of homes, Natural Retreats makes it easy and convenient for film fans to visit their favorite movie spots. Book your stay today, and let us help you plan an unforgettable vacation that will have you feeling like a star!

Planning a cinematographic tourism experience? Make sure to capture your favorite moments, and tag us on social media @naturalretreats and use the hashtag #openthedoortomore.