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14 Destinations That Haven't Changed Since Hollywood's Golden Age

1. Vasquez Rocks

Los Angeles County, CA

Vasquez Rocks were featured in 1931's Dracula and showed up at least four other times on the silver screen in the '30s and '40s, but it's most known for its use in sci-fi films and Westerns in the decades since. The iconic outcropping is so famous for its use by Hollywood that it shows up as an in-joke, like the "Wilhelm scream." Its use in four Star Trek series and two of the old-school movies led to it having a "cameo" in the J.J. Abrams one, and it's even been drawn into cartoons like Futurama.

(image via Bigstock)

2. Hollywood Bowl

Los Angeles, CA

Hollywood loves few things more than patting itself on the back, and as such, the famous Hollywood Bowl has a long and storied history in movies. It first appearing in 1936's Moonlight Murder and was famously featured in the original A Star is Born. It's not only appeared in films like Beaches and Xanadu, but the stage has also been the setting for concert films likes Monty Python. It was even the setting of a Tom & Jerry short and two Bugs Bunny cartoons!

(image via Wikimedia)

3. Corrigan Ranch

Simi Valley, CA

Corrigan Ranch was a popular filming site for RKO in the 1930s. Errol Flynn's The Adventures of Robin Hood was filmed here, and Robin Hood Lake is so-named due to a famous tumble taken by that movie's Sherriff of Nottingham over a cement bluff and into the water. The water isn't there today, and a lot of the sets fell prey to a fire, but the natural beauty of the forests and rocks remain. In addition to being Sherwood Forest, Corrigan was the site of hundreds of Westerns from the likes of Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey. Today it's a park, open to the public to come and see its famous woods.

4. Mount Rushmore

Keystone, SD

Of course, Mount Rushmore is used in movies because it's already an American icon, and not the other way around. But given its prominent placement in Alfred Hitchcock's classic North by Northwest, we just had to include it. It's also been in several other, not-quite-as-famous films, as we mentioned in our article on overrated travel experiences.

(image via Bigstock)

5. The Old Mill

North Little Rock, AR

So, there's bad news about Gone With the Wind: Not a single scene of that movie was actually shot in Georgia. Most of it—including Tara—was built on one of Selznick's backlots. You can actually see the Skull Island gates from King Kong in the background when Atlanta is burning. Twelve Oaks was a matte painting, and most of the "location" shooting was done around Los Angeles. But one of the actual Southern places featured in the film was the "Old Mill," which was built in 1933 as a throwback to the 1800s, and appears briefly in the opening scene of the film. It is thought to be the last surviving building from the movie.

(image via Bigstock)

6. Macy's Flagship Store

Manhattan, NY

Both exterior shots and interiors for Miracle on 34th Street were shot at Macy's most famous location in Herald Square in Manhattan. Woody Allen's Radio Days was also filmed here, but the store will always be linked in peoples' hearts and minds to that classic Christmas film, which is why you'll find it on our list of Christmas movie destinations.

(image via Bigstock)

7. Potemkin Stairs

Odessa, Ukraine

The Potemkin Stairs is a giant stairway in Odessa, Ukraine. Film buffs already know what's coming next. This is the site of the famous "Odessa Steps" sequence in Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin, widely cited as one of the greatest films of all time. Even if you've never seen this, you've seen it. The famous scene of Cossacks marching mechanically down this stairwell as terrified civilians flee has been homaged and parodied into oblivion. The image of a baby carriage rolling free down the stairwell has been used in everything from Brian de Palma's The Untouchables to Naked Gun 33-1/3. This isn't from Hollywood—far from it—but it was a massive influence on Hollywood. Orson Welles counted it among his favorite films, so we're counting it here.

(image via Bigstock)

8. Lasky Mesa

Simi Valley, CA

Lasky Mesa has gone by many names. At one point it was Barrett Ranch or Ahmanson Ranch. Today it seems to be the "Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve." Jesse Lasky was a producer who teamed up with Samuel Goldwyn and Cecil B. Demille in 1913 to make moving pictures. Lasky bought these 4,000 acres specifically for use as shooting locations. This was one of the aforementioned California locations for Gone with the Wind—the sunrise scene, specifically. But plenty of big-budget movies were filmed here, like The Thundering Herd and They Died with Their Boots On.

(image via Instagram)

9. Monument Valley

Arizona-Utah Border

Even if you're not a cinephile, there's enough to love about Monument Valley that it's one of our favorite road trip destinations. But for movie buffs, the place has special significance. This place basically is Westerns. John Ford shot nine films here, including John Wayne classics like Stagecoach, Angel and the Badman, Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and The Searchers. This was also a stomping ground for the New Hollywood whiz kids. Easy Rider and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were both filmed out here.

(image via Bigstock)

10. Mount Sinai


One of the most popular destinations for travelers in the Holy Land, Mount Sinai also appears in a piece of classic cinema, courtesy of Cecil B. Demille. Demille carted a cast of Hollywood's A-list actors across Egypt so that he could shoot The Ten Commandments on location. It was the most expensive film ever made at the time, but it remains one of the most successful to this day, so maybe he was onto something.

(image via Bigstock)

11. The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes

Santa Barbara County, CA

A lot of people don't realize, as they complain about "all these reboots and remakes lately," that Demille's 1956 Ten Commandments was actually a remake of a version he made in 1923. The sets for that were a little more local, with some dunes in Santa Barbara County filling in for Egypt. Those dunes were actually excavated in 2014 just like a real Egyptian dig site. When Demille was finished filming, he had the sets dynamited and buried just so nobody else could use them.

(image via Flickr)

12. Santa Anita Racetrack

Arcadia, CA

The Marx Brothers' famous A Day at the Races was filmed here, and they were far from the only people to film at the track. The likes of Bing Crosby, Spencer Tracy, and even Alex Trebek have owned horses that raced here, and it was a bit of a go-to for any production that needed a horse race. Modern filmgoers saw it in 2003's Seabiscuit, but it was also in Shirley Temple's 1949 version of the same story. It also showed up in the original 1937 A Star is Born, in The Ex-Mrs. Bradford, and countless others.

(image via Flickr)

13. St. Brendan's Catholic Church

Los Angeles, CA

St. Brendan's was the location of the famous climax in 1953's War of the Worlds. In an apparent nod to that film, Ben Affleck married Liv Tyler here at the end of Armageddon. You can also see it in Fight Club when the narrator attends a support group for cancer victims. Many people mistake Hollywood United Methodist Church for the War of the Worlds church, and while it is featured in Sister Act and Back to the Future, St. Brendan's is the one with the old-school sci-fi pedigree.

14. Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden

Los Angeles, CA

Like many LA sites, the arboretum has been a filming location since the '30s, at least. It was used for Tarzan Escapes, Objective, Burma!Anna and the King of Siam, Notorious, and The Road to Singapore. Whenever you needed "untamed wilderness," this was one of the first places tapped. There are claims that The African Queen was shot here, but much of that film was actually shot on location in Uganda and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—mostly so that John Huston could go shoot elephants on the company dime.

(image via Flickr)