LIFE

Little Family Getaways: 15 US Vacation Destinations For Families Who Love Movies

by Rachel Gariepy
Rachel Gariepy is an experienced Editorial Director for a variety of digital publications including LittleThings and Purple Clover. She has written for, edited and managed teams across multiple lifestyle properties, including sites for celebrity clientele including, but not limited to Jenni (JWOWW) Farley, NeNe Leakes, and Vanessa Hudgens. Rachel has experience wearing many fun and fanciful hats including content strategist, creator, editor and project manager. She, like Mitch Hedberg before her, sometimes wrestles with the idea of wearing a beret. She also enjoys hiking, reading and hanging out with dogs.

Thinking of where to take a family vacation can be a daunting task. But the task becomes a bit easier when you start to narrow down your family’s likes and dislikes.

Are you beach people, food lovers, or adventurers? Or maybe you’re one of those families who love to get together on the couch, bust out the popcorn, and binge-watch all manner of movies, from the classics to horror films to cartoons!

But just because you love to watch movies doesn’t mean you need to spend your entire family vacation at home on the sofa. We’ve rounded up 15 Little Family Getaway ideas that film lovers can get excited about. Whether your kids are huge Harry Potter buffs or your husband is more of a National Lampoon guy, we’ve got you more than covered.

Here are our top picks for the perfect US-based family vacation destinations for movie lovers!

1. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios

wizarding-world

What better place to be for Harry Potter movie lovers and Hogwarts enthusiasts than the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood? From amazing rides like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey to local wizard haunts like the Three Broomsticks tavern, every muggle and wizard-wannabe will have plenty to do here.

2. The Pacific Crest Trail from "Wild"

wild-pct
Getty/Fox Searchlight

While we don’t necessarily endorse hiking the full 1,000-mile hike that Reese Witherspoon undertook in Cheryl Strayed’s film Wild, doing a small portion of the Pacific Crest Trail and experiencing nature in one of its purest forms is a wonderful family vacation idea if you’re also up for a bit of adventure. You could even pick up a pair of the iconic hiking boots Reese eventually threw off of a cliff, they are actually really cute!

3. New York City's Little Italy from "The Godfather"

3. New York City's Little Italy from "The Godfather"
Paramount Pictures

Francis Ford Coppola’s classic hit The Godfather was filmed in New York City in the 1970s but took place in the 1940s. Plenty of the film locations are still viewable to the public and look much the same, especially in NYC’s Little Italy.

4. Moab, Utah, from "Thelma and Louise"

thelma-louise-moab
Getty/Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Technically, Thelma and Louise were driving around in the deserts of New Mexico, but most of those scenes were actually filmed in breathtakingly beautiful Moab, Utah. If you’re looking to explore stunning vistas and to scout out some film locations of this 1991 film, head to Moab!

5. New Orleans, Louisiana, from "The Princess and the Frog"

princess-and-frog
Getty/Disney

Who didn’t fall in love with Tiana and the bustling streets of New Orleans circa the 1920s in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog? Check out the bayous of Louisiana and jazz-filled Bourbon Street to fall in love with the film all over again.

6. Culver City, California, from "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial"

6. Culver City, California, from "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial"
Vincent via Pexels/Universal Pictures

There are so many reasons for a movie-loving family to visit Culver City, Los Angeles, but E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial has to be at the top of any list. Check out Culver City High School to see where the school scenes were filmed, or roll around the scenic neighborhoods of Granada Hills or Porter Ranch for glimpses of the film’s suburban settings.

7. Marblehead, Massachusetts, for "Hocus Pocus"

hocus-pocus
Disney/Olivia Notter via Flickr

Though the film Hocus Pocus takes place in Salem, Massachusetts, home of the historic Salem witch trials, pivotal scenes were actually filmed in neighboring town Marblehead. The town is a gorgeous seaside community known for its fishing industry and sport yachting, as well as for being the birthplace of the American Navy — though neighboring town Beverly might have something to say on that matter.

8. Boston, Massachusetts for "Fever Pitch"

8. Boston, Massachusetts for "Fever Pitch"
Flower Films/Getty

The loveable 2005 romantic comedy Fever Pitch led by Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore centers around an immature Red Sox fanatic (Fallon) who is falling for a beautiful workaholic executive (Barrymore). The movie is set in Boston, MA during the Red Sox 2004 World Series Championship. Boston is a great city for seafood, historic walking tours, and sports lovers.

9. Chicago, Illinois from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"

9. Chicago, Illinois from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
Chait Goli via Pexels/Paramount Pictures

Re-create Ferris Bueller’s epic day off in Chicago by checking out a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, taking in some culture at the Art Institute of Chicago, or just goofing around on the streets of Chi-town. Any way you slice it, you won’t be disappointed. Especially if tack on a visit to Giordano’s for a classic deep-dish pizza.

10. The Grand Canyon from "National Lampoon's Vacation"

grand-canyon-national-lampoon
Adobe Stock/Warner Bros.

If you consider your family to be just like the Griswolds, perhaps it’s time you took a National Lampoon vacation yourselves. Why not start with the Grand Canyon? The breathtaking vistas really are unbelievable in person; it truly is a wonder of the world. Just make sure dad doesn’t steal any cash from a hotel clerk!

11. Pasadena, California, from "Gone With the Wind"

gone-with-wind-pasadena
Metro Goldwyn Mayer/Getty

While ‘Gone With the Wind’ was all about the American South, most of it was actually filmed in Hollywood, California. The famous barbecue scene was actually filmed in good ol’ Pasadena, CA at the Busch Gardens estate. Pasadena is known for its great antiquing, scenic mountain vistas, and that eponymous little old lady from Pasadena!

12. Martha's Vineyard from "Jaws"

marthas-vineyard-jaws
Universal Pictures/Getty

You can actually jump off the bridge and swim in the ocean right where Jaws attacked, but be careful of the undercurrent. Not only is Martha’s Vineyard a great family vacation destination for horror movie buffs, but there are tons of family-friendly locales such as gorgeous Katama Beach and the old-timey ice cream and candy shops in Edgartown.

Movie buffs will also note that Martha’s Vineyard is the site of John Belushi’s grave.

13. Hawaii from "Moana"

moana-hawaii
Disney/Getty

Disney’s Moana takes place 3,000 years ago in a fictional version of Polynesia that includes Hawaii, Tonga, and Tahiti. Take your family to the big island or Maui and learn a little bit about Polynesian history and island culture. You won’t be disappointed in the islands’ natural beauty and all the wonderful outdoor activities you can experience while you’re there.

14. Newark, New Jersey, from "The Jersey Boys"

jersey-boys-new-jersey
Malpaso Productions/Getty

Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys follows Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on their journey to stardom. The movie paints a picture of what Newark, New Jersey, was like in the 1960s for the group of scrappy singers. Keep in mind that New Jersey is actually the Garden State and is well known for its well-manicured and beautifully curated gardens as well as its heavily visited shoreline during the summer.

15. Disney World in Orlando, Florida

disney-world

Maybe the most unbelievable place on earth for a family full of film lovers is Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Alternatively, if you live West Coast, you and your brood can check out the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. Say hey to Donald Duck, and meet and greet with Mickey and Minnie. What’s not to love about the magical world of Disney?

Which Little Family Getaway will you try out first?