Movie production crews have the ability to transport viewers into different worlds filled with scenic landscapes, lush forestry and tranquil paradises. Cinematographers and directors hope to entice movie goers by placing actors into beautiful realms ripe with imagery that would keep audience members fantasizing for weeks. While a large majority of films are shot in Hollywood on production lots or sound stages, there do exist a laundry list of movies that opt for a more authentic setting.
This season, when planning your annual vacation to take with the family, consider these popular tourist destinations where some of Hollywood's most successful blockbusters were shot:
Redwood National and State Parks
While you'd be hard-pressed to venture to a galaxy far, far away this year, you could travel to the Redwood National and State Parks where the plant of Endor was recreated for the hit film, "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi." Home of the fuzzy bear-like Ewoks, the tropical forest right off the California shore offers visitors the opportunity to experience the tallest trees on earth, the local and colorful animals, and cultural traditions in the area.
Additionally, the parks protect almost 40 miles of coastline where travelers can experience the wealth of wildlife inhabiting the area. For adventurers looking to enjoy United States travel this year, the Redwood National and State Parks are perfect.
Hobbit holes of New Zealand
Inspiration for "The Lord of the Rings" fictional realm of Middle Earth, New Zealand houses more than 250 locations where the popular fantasy series was filmed. The nation boasts a wide variety of landmarks used for filming, including the beautiful mountains and tranquil waterfalls found at Lake Quill, the seemingly endless Waitomo Caves ripe for adventure travel and the sacred peak of Mt. Hikurangi.
Filmmakers not only utilized the abundant natural landscapes of the country, but they also created their own town in order to provide an authentic movie experience. The town, Hobbiton, features farmland, lush greenery and small houses inhabited by the mythical hobbits in the series.
The Colosseum of Rome
Although the Academy Award-winning film "Gladiator" was not actually shot in the ancient city, Rome houses the fighting arena replicated for the film. The Colosseum, one of the city's most famous attractions, was home to gladiatorial combat during the golden days of the Roman Empire. Visitors to the Eternal City can walk through the structure and observe the once-flourishing combat stage where man and beast alike met to fight to the death.