If you drive west from Charlotte on US-74 for about three hours, you’ll find yourself in a small town called Sylva. It’s a charming small town that’s home to little more than 2,700 residents and is unremarkable at first glance. That’s not stopping tourists from showing up, though.
Tourists are coming because Sylva happens to be the real-world location that the popular film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was shot. Now, locals are offering a three-day tour of the memorable locations seen in the film to movie buffs from all over the world. Movie-themed vacations aren’t a new idea, of course, and film lovers have plenty of memorable vacations to choose from all around the world. With summer just around the corner, here’s a guide to three unforgettable trips for Charlotte’s film lovers.
New Zealand – Lord of the Rings
Fans of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy tend to be lovers of all things Tolkien, and they are in excellent company. In their case, a New Zealand Lord of the Rings tour is about as close to Middle Earth as they can get, since all three films were shot on location there. The tours are quite comprehensive and take fans all over the country to see just about every major filming location from all of the films. From Hobbiton to Mount Doom, to the Dimholt Road and the Cliffs of Rivendell, there’s no end to the gorgeous vistas one will see on this once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Tunisia – Star Wars
Like Lord of the Rings fans, Star Wars fans are known for being knowledgeable about the franchise and being steeped in the mythology of the series. What better way to feel the force, though, then to stay in Luke Skywalker’s home on Tatooine for a few nights? The majority of the scenes set on Luke’s home planet were filmed on location in Tunisia, and it’s a must-see for Star Wars fans. If that’s not enough, the Mos Espa sets from The Phantom Menace are still intact and nearby, as well as a whole array of other filming locations from the series.
Japan – Godzilla
Monster movies have been a staple of worldwide entertainment for generations, but there’s one movie monster that stands above all the rest – literally. Godzilla is a globally-famous character that has spawned one of the largest and best-loved film franchises of all time. Godzilla’s favorite stomping grounds in Tokyo, Japan, have become something of a shrine to the radioactive destroyer. There are hundreds of Godzilla-themed locations throughout the city, and fans of the franchise could spend years exploring them all. Godzilla is so beloved in Japan that he has become an official tourism ambassador and was granted Japanese citizenship in 2015.
Making the Cut
Traveling movie buffs can plan trips around just about any film ever made, but the three covered here are by far the most memorable, due to the sheer volume of film-related sights to see. In addition, they’re all located in parts of the world that are worth visiting even for those that aren’t fans of the movies that they’re famous for.
All three contain rich cultures and historical sites that are not found anywhere else and will assure any traveler that they’ll return home with broadened horizons and memories that will last a lifetime. Plus, as any film lover will tell you, walking in your favorite character’s footsteps is a unique and fun way to immerse oneself in worlds that leap from the silver screen and into reality – and what could be cooler than that?