Ever since King Kong swung from Koster and Bial’s Vaudeville House in New York – now Macy’s Department Store – way back in 1906, the US has been marketing itself as a destination via films and television.
Operators and tourism bodies have made the most of this unique selling point, and last year saw the UK launch of the ‘You’ve seen the movie, now visit the set’ campaign.
Travel 4 US’s product manager Julian Lawman believes the link between TV and films and US visitor numbers is as strong as ever.
He said: “Film and TV have always been important factors in drawing British travellers to the US. The most notable recent example is Brokeback Mountain.
“Ironically, the film was shot in Alberta in Canada, but set in Wyoming, which has benefited from a lot of extra requests for ranching holidays. Wyoming has not traditionally been one of our top ranching destinations but it is now attracting a noticeably higher proportion of our business.”
Thomas Cook reported a rush to certain destinations in response to the latest movies or TV shows and has even coined the phrase ‘popcorn holidays’ to describe them.
A spokesman said: “Popcorn holidays are a great way to bring your favourite movie or TV show to life. Or it could just be that a film or TV show inspires you to see a brand new part of the world.”
Whether it’s The OC on the small screen or the big screen remake of Miami Vice, the power of Hollywood isn’t lost on operators and tourist boards. Make sure you don’t lose the plot with our guide to the best film locations in the US.
As Seen In: Lost, Jurassic Park, Pearl Harbor, Along Came Polly, 50 First Dates.
Look out for: The Ka’a’awa Valley region of Hawaii where the filming of Lost takes place. The area’s 4,000 acre exotic Kualoa Cattle Ranch was turned into a mysterious tropical jungle for the series.
But Lost isn’t the first hit to be filmed here. Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston made Hawaii their home when they filmed Along Came Polly, as did Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler when they were on location filming 50 First Dates.
Parts of Pearl Harbor, of course, were also filmed in Hawaii. And then there’s Jurassic Park, which immortalised the area when Sam Neill ran for his life as the dinosaurs thundered towards him. For details on how to visit these sets, go to Hawaiimovietour.com.
Sample product: Kuoni offers seven nights at the Ohana Waikiki West Hotel room only in Hawaii in July from £1,257 per person. Price includes ex-Heathrow flights with United Airlines.
As Seen in: the new Miami Vice movie, out in July; CSI Miami; Analyze This; Cape Fear, Donnie Brasco, Out of Sight, The Golden Girls, the original Tarzan movie and Desperate Housewives.
Look out for: fans of old movies might like to take a trip out to Silver Springs in Florida where the original Tarzan swung off with Jane in the 1930s. The Truman Show fans should head for Seaside where the movie was filmed and Miami Vice movie lovers should head for Fort Lauderdale where many of the scenes were shot.
Sample product: Thomas Cook Signature offers seven nights at the four-star Lago Mar Resort Hotel in Fort Lauderdale on a room-only basis from £1,036 per person, departing July 4. The price is based on two people travelling with Virgin to Miami and includes economy car hire.
As seen in: Name your top 10 TV shows or films and chances are more than half of them will have been filmed here. Try Friends and Sex and the City, of course, also Seinfeld, Will and Grace, and big screen classics from King Kong to Annie Hall.
Look out for: There are loads of companies that conduct tours of all those sets you have seen a hundred times on screen but now fancy checking out in real life.
On Location Tours (Sceneontv.com) will take clients to the bars and shoe shops frequented by the Carrie and the girls from SATC or to the apartment building of Monica, Chandler and co. Its Central Park Movie Tour will also guide you around the park locations used for shooting in When Harry Met Sally and the Audrey Hepburn classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Sample product: Virgin Holidays offers a week at the Comfort Inn Manhattan on a bed-and-breakfast basis from £1,029 per adult. Price includes scheduled flights with Virgin Atlantic from Heathrow this July.
As seen in: North Carolina is the third most popular location for movie production in the US, so you will have seen the destination in countless films. In the last 24 years, the North Carolina Film Office has worked on more than 600 films.
Look out for: Hannibal was filmed on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville (to visit, see Biltmore.com) while the Blue Ridge Mountains were the setting for The Last of the Mohicans starring Daniel Day Lewis. Dirty Dancing, Bull Durham and Cold Mountain were also filmed on location in North Carolina.
Fans of hit teen drama Dawson’s Creek will also want to pay the state a visit – its stars were residents in Wilmington. Race fans who liked Days of Thunder with Tom Cruise might pay a visit to the Charlotte Motor Speedway where filming took place.
Sample product: North America Travel Service offers seven nights in July at the deluxe Grove Park Inn Resort at Asheville, North Carolina, on a room-only basis from £1,359 per person twin-share. The price includes flights from Gatwick to Charlotte non-stop with US Airways, and car hire.
To learn more about North Carolina and film, see the Film module of Travel Weekly’s North Carolina Explorer academy.
As seen in: Well, those pampered actors like nothing better than filming in their own back yard so there are TV shows and movies aplenty set in and around this huge area of the US.
Recently US comedy hit Curb Your Enthusiasm, an E4 import which has lead character and Seinfeld co-creator Larry David committing a series of faux pas among the LA TV elite, has flown the flag for the region as David films scenes at hotels, restaurants, beaches and parks. The teen hit The OC has also attracted visitors to the state.
Look out for: Like New York, there are tours by the dozen that visit locations. Try Losangeles.com/attractions.
Sample product: Thomson America and Canada offers seven nights in mid July on a room-only basis at the five-star Radisson Wilshire Plaza in Los Angeles from £779 per person twin-share. The price includes return flights from Heathrow with Air France via Newark.