When movies create a vivid sense of place, the cinematic magic lingers long after the credits roll. Often, that sense of place has a real-life component, locations to which avid moviegoers make pilgrimages to relive celluloid enchantment. It's a worldwide phenomenon, with fans reverently circling the little Austrian gazebo of Sound of Music fame or touring Lord of the Rings sites in New Zealand. America has numerous cinematic touchstones, too. Here are seven of the country's must-see film locations.
1. Moab, Utah: Thelma & Louise
Fans of TV westerns and John Ford classics will recognize the dramatic canyon land terrain of the American West. The deeply saturated colors of Utah's red-rock country gave the 1991 road picture Thelma & Louise an operatic intensity, as two gals on the run find freedom in the raw, sprawling landscape.
2. Dyersville, Iowa: Field of Dreams
The movie folks built it, and now they come — thousands of cinema fans, that is. The Field of Dreams is the actual baseball diamond carved out of an Iowa cornfield (in just three days) by the crew of the 1989 film starring Kevin Costner. Since then, the big swath of neatly trimmed green framed by a cornflower blue sky has become a popular Dyersville attraction, open daily April through November.
3. Seaside, Fla.: The Truman Show
The picture-perfect seaside village that was the film location for The Truman Show — both the movie and the show-within-the-show — is a planned community on the Florida Panhandle. Its old-fashioned brick streets are lined with gaily painted cottages whose front porches face sidewalks made for strolling — hallmarks of the architectural movement known as New Urbanism. Vacation rentals are available.
4. Biltmore Estate, Asheville, N.C.: Being There
With 250 rooms, an extravagant French chateau facade and a backdrop of rolling blue hills, the Biltmore Estate is a movie set waiting to happen. Happen it did, more than once, but perhaps never more elegantly than in the 1979 satire Being There, where the house costarred with the great Peter Sellers.