Movie: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
With such an intrepid globe-trotter as Indiana Jones, it is hard to pick just one destination depicted in the films, as they are almost all legendary. In the franchise’s third installment, Indiana’s journey takes him from the winding channels of Venice, to the hills of Austria, all the way to the deserts of Jordan in the quest for the Holy Grail. The final scene (no spoilers, promise!) takes place inside the temple of Al-Khazneh in Petra, Jordan. Yes, that is not a film set, it actually exists. The elaborate temple is carved directly into the face of a cliff and is among one of the most unique architectural feats in the world. A great place for hiding the Holy Grail.
Movie: The Sound of Music
Those famous hills that are so alive? You know the ones (you don’t want us to sing it for you, trust us). Well, turns out that those iconic—and quite dramatic—mountains in the background of this classic musical are not a backdrop on a soundstage. Those are the real deal. Those, of course, are the Bavarian Alps. The von Trapp family were quite spoiled with their hometown locale, with idyllic villages tucked away in the mountain range. In fact, the famous “do-re-mi” scene was filmed in the Austrian town of Werfen, a quick trip from nearby Salzburg, which is also home to medieval castles and ice caves, as if the mountains weren’t amazing enough.
London and Scotland
Movie: The Harry Potter Series
The wand-toting wizard phenom may be a work of fiction (or are you just a muggle?), the world of Harry Potter takes place in the very-real United Kingdom. The Hogwarts Express takes off from King’s Cross station in the heart of London, but only wizards can find Platform 9 ¾ . Lucky for you, there is an actual shop at King’s Cross to collect wizardry souvenirs and even an obligatory photo at the invisible platform wall. A quick trip up to Scotland will yield a whole new world of Hogwarts filming locations, from the stunning train bridges of Glenfinnan, to Alnwick Castle, which was used extensively as outside shots of Hogwarts. You can certainly create your own magic here on your way to becoming an honorary wizard.
Movie: Stagecoach & The Searchers
Some of the most iconic American landscapes caught on film can be traced all the way back to the early westerns of John Ford. You can picture it now, the silhouettes of the plateaus and buttes in the background, with John Wayne trotting along on horseback in the desert heat. You can hear “Home on the Range” in your head. But as the ultimate setting for westerns, Monument Valley is also a sacred place for the Navajo tribes. You can tour the valley by foot to see where the filmmaker got his visual inspiration from, and you can also stop at sacred Navajo sights and experience first-hand the power this scenery holds over its inhabitants.
Movie: Jurassic Park
Don’t worry, no raptors here. The fictional isle from Jurassic Park may as well owe itself entirely to Hawaii. Director Steven Spielberg must’ve seen the islands as the perfect backdrop in which to place these larger-than-life creatures, with cliffs and waterfalls as dramatic as the action in the film. Start on the isle of Oahu, where you can visit Kualoa Ranch, the mountainous ridges can be identified from quite a few movies, but most notably from the stampede scene where the T. Rex famously has its lunch. Head over to the lush isle of Kauai and you’ll discover the real-life Manawaiopuna Falls, where the helicopter takes off from bringing the visitors to safety at last.