16 Road Trips Inspired by Movies You Can Take Across the US This Summer
With travel looking a bit different this summer, more and more people are turning to road trips to safely satisfy their wanderlust. In addition to the perk of not having to fly anywhere, road trips allow you to appreciate the journey as well as the destination. They blend the mundane (i.e. getting gas and figuring out directions) with the extraordinary (i.e. seeing breathtaking views and exploring new places). The appeal of a memorable road trip is that you have total control and can take as many detours or make as many stops along the way as you want. (Did we also mention that road-trip snacks are pretty great, too?)
One great way to plan a road trip is to center it on a movie. There are tons of destinations in the US that feature some of your favorite films' locations, like Charleston, SC, from The Notebook or San Francisco from The Wedding Planner. Keep reading for 16 road trips to take based on movies, and as always, make sure you check openings and safety regulations for each destination. We'll see you on the road!
Atlanta to Charleston, SC — The Notebook
The scenic drive from Atlanta to Charleston, SC, lets road trippers pass through some of the South's most beautiful natural landscapes like the famed Oak Tree Lane in Savannah, GA, and the grassy marshlands of South Carolina that are reminiscent of an impressionist painting. Once you arrive in Charleston, check into boutique waterfront property HarbourView Inn, where couples can relive the classic film The Notebook with Allie and Noah's Timeless Romance Package. Inspired by one of Charleston's favorite love stories, travelers can pay a visit to real-life filming locations, including The American Theatre, where Noah and Allie catch a movie before walking home and dancing in the street, and the famed Jeni's Splendid to re-create the iconic ice cream scene.
Memphis, TN, to Lexington, KY — Walk the Line and Secretariat
This six-hour Southern road trip from Memphis, TN, to Lexington, KY, offers a mix of outdoor exploration, indulgent eats, and plenty of pop culture references. While traveling through Memphis, check out Sun Studio and The Orpheum Theater, where scenes from Walk the Line were filmed. In Lexington, for a final cinematic stop, visit the historic Keeneland Racecourse, where scenes from Secretariat were filmed.
Little Rock, AR, to the Grand Canyon National Park, AZ — Thelma & Louise
Follow in the footsteps of best friends Thelma Dickinson and Louise Sawyer, whose road trip leads to some rather exciting, unforeseen, yet empowering misadventures and an unfortunate end. The duo originally intend to spend a relaxing weekend at a friend's cabin in the mountains, but they end up at the breathtaking (quite literally in this movie!) Grand Canyon. Start off in Little Rock, then make your way west through the Ouachita Mountains to Oklahoma City. Thelma and Louise had planned to get to Mexico while avoiding Texas, so make your way to Columbus City, NM, then head to the Grand Canyon for some of the most impressive views the US has to offer.
Glenallen to Fairbanks, AK — Into the Wild
This under-five-hour drive from remote Glenallen to Fairbanks will take road trippers through the awe-inspiring Alaskan wilderness, making them feel like they're a character in the based-on-a-true-story film Into the Wild. Travelers can begin their outdoor adventure at Northern Nights Campground and RV Park, with views of three of Alaska's major mountain ranges, before stopping at Log Cabin Wilderness Lodge, which is a good halfway point, to take in the midnight sun and Northern Lights. End your trip at River's Edge Resort RV Park, which is a camper's paradise and only 10 minutes from the urban center of Fairbanks. Every park mentioned can be instantly booked via Pitchup.com.
Miami to Key West, FL — To Have and Have Not
A destination rich in literary history, Key West's iconic Casa Marina Resort is a Henry Flagler-built landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places and once host to notables including long-time Key West resident Ernest Hemingway. To Have and Have Not is a tale about Harry Morgan, a fishing-boat captain out of Key West forced by dire economic circumstances to run contraband between Cuba and Florida.
San Francisco to Woodside, CA — The Wedding Planner
In The Wedding Planner, Mary Fiore (Jennifer Lopez) showcases some of San Francisco's most iconic locations to her clients. Before taking the short half-hour drive to Woodside, CA, to visit the Filoli Historic House and Garden where Mary and Dr. Steve Edison (Matthew McConaughey) get into a bit of trouble in the statuary, take a walk through Golden Gate Park, find your zen in the Japanese Tea Garden, and create your own bouquet at the San Francisco Flower Mart. Don't forget to stop by San Francisco City Hall for a photo session. The building is a breathtaking beaux-arts monument that can't be missed (and it's where Mary almost gets married in the movie).
Albuquerque, NM, to Redondo Beach, CA — Little Miss Sunshine
Follow Olive Hoover and her family's VW tracks from Albuquerque, NM, to Redondo Beach, CA. The Hoover family face a series of misadventures that ultimately bring them closer together as they travel along I-40 in their yellow VW bus on a journey to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. You and your crew can enjoy some of the most well-known stops along I-40 and Historic Route 66, including Gallup, NM; Flagstaff, AZ; Kingman, AZ; and Barstow, CA. Then bask in some well-deserved and much-needed beach time after this 12-hour drive.
Detroit to Los Angeles — True Romance
Clarence Worley gets himself into a world of trouble when he marries Alabama Whitman in Detroit, then takes her pimp's cocaine to sell in Hollywood. True Romance was Quentin Tarantino's first film to be released after Reservoir Dogs, and while it may not have been much of a box-office success, it has gained a considerable cult following. Head to LA to visit some of the iconic locations from the film, including the Safari Inn in Burbank (where you can actually stay!), the Vista Theatre, Rae's Restaurant, and Heroes for Sale.
Tehachapi Pass, CA, to Bridge of the Gods, OR — Wild
In Wild, Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) embarks on an arduous journey of cleansing and self-discovery as she hikes the challenging Pacific Crest Trail on her own. If you're an experienced hiker, you might want to try out the PCT on your own. If you prefer taking the highway, you can still stop and see the trailhead at Tehachapi Pass, drive up through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and finally drive over the Bridge of the Gods.
Phoenix and Tucson, AZ, to Madison, WI — Away We Go
In Away We Go, Burt and Verona set off on a tour of the US in search of the best place to raise a family. Start off in Phoenix, AZ, and visit the Phoenix Park N' Swap before heading to Tucson for a stay at The JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa. Make your way up to Madison, WI, and take a tour of the University of Wisconsin — Madison, known for its lovely arboretum.
New Orleans — Girls Trip
In Girls Trip, Ryan Pierce invites her college girlfriends to New Orleans for the Essence Music Festival to try to reconnect and rekindle their bond. While the festival has been canceled this year, you can still visit some of the spots from the movie. Head to the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone on Royal Street before taking a stroll on Bourbon Street. Try the Hand Grenade, a deliciously sweet drink at the Tropical Isle, before heading to The Maison on Frenchmen Street for some jazz and dancing!
San Diego to New York City — Almost Famous
Take your own tour with Stillwater and William Miller from Almost Famous, a coming-of-age tale that follows the band, their roadies, and their groupies across the country. Start at the Valley View Casino Center, formerly the San Diego Sports Arena, where Miller meets the band, then drive up to LA to visit the Hollywood Palladium. Make your way across the country to New York to see some of the sights from the movie, including the Queensboro Bridge, Gramercy Park, Central Park, and The Plaza Hotel.
Los Angeles — La La Land
Fall in love with LA just like Mia and Sebastian. Take in a breathtaking view of the San Fernando Valley at the Griffith Observatory, then taste some of the modern offerings at Grand Central Market. In the evening, you can sample some jazz at The Lighthouse Cafe before taking a stroll on the Hermosa Beach Pier. And don't forget to visit Watts Towers before you leave!
Lake Lure to Asheville, NC — Dirty Dancing
Lake Lure in western North Carolina hosts an annual Dirty Dancing Festival every August. While the festival has been canceled this year, you can take in the beautiful scenery before teeing off at the Bald Mountain Golf Course, where Baby's parents can be found in the movie. Stay at the Lake Lure Inn and Spa, which has a Jennifer Grey suite and a Patrick Swayze suite for diehard Dirty Dancing fans. After taking in the Blue Ridge mountain air, head to Asheville, where you can explore the Downtown Arts District, the River Arts District, and George Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate before reveling in some nightlife amusement.
Chicago to Woodstock, IL — Groundhog Day
It turns out that many of the iconic places that audiences associate with Phil Connors's repeated stay in Punxsutawney, PA, were actually filmed in Woodstock, IL. Make your way from Chicago to Woodstock to visit Bella's Gelateria (known as The Tip Top Cafe in the movie), then take a stroll around the picturesque town square. You can stay at The Royal Victorian Manor Bed & Breakfast, known as Cherry Street Inn in the movie. Also make sure to visit the opera house and the Moose Lodge, where Rita wins Phil in the Groundhog Day bachelor auction.
Manhattan to Brooklyn, NY — Sex and the City
Before buying yourself a new pair of Manolos or Louboutins, make sure to check out the New York City Public Library, where Carrie was set to marry Mr. Big in the Sex and the City movie. That wedding didn't happen, of course, but that doesn't make the library any less of a must see with its lion statues and grand interiors. Take a tour of Central Park, then make your way to the Brooklyn Bridge, where Steve and Miranda reunite at the end of the movie. Don't forget to dine at Cafeteria, the Chelsea spot where Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda meet regularly for brunch and girl talk.