'The Hunger Games' 4-Day Itinerary
Ready to experience “The Hunger Games”? You’ve come to the right place. The road to Panem starts and ends in North Carolina, where the eagerly awaited movie was shot.
This four-day itinerary, which loops from Charlotte to Asheville and back, leads to film locations, choice star hangouts and sites that connect to elements of the Suzanne Collins novel. It also notes training options to learn skills a Tribute could use.
Imagine you’re Effie, leaving the decadence of the Capitol (Charlotte), dropping by District 12 (Hildebran), then landing in a fun-loving place that makes film stars feel at home (Asheville).
Having eaten as well as the Tributes during training, prepare to enter the Arena (DuPont State Recreational Forest between Brevard and Hendersonville).
Journey from the heart of District 12 (Shelby) to the belly of the Capitol (Charlotte) and sense the atmospheric change from small-town warmth to urban cool.
Explore the Capitol (Charlotte), which turns out to be Haymitch’s kind of place.
Head out of Charlotte and drive an hour northwest to Hildebran, where the Henry River Manufacturing Co. once turned out fine combed cotton yarns.
Henry River Mill Village stands in for the Seam and the Mellark family bakery
Continue on I-40 to Asheville, where the cast and crew were based during much of the summer shoot. This Appalachian city does right by everyone from the rich and famous to bohemians, outdoorsmen and dreamers — little wonder it suited the “The Hunger Games” cast. Enjoy lunch at Lexington Avenue Brewery or the Laughing Seed Café, two of the places where the actors dined, and contemplate the choices for an active afternoon (stay another day and you can do it all):
- Craggy Pinnacle hike: The North Fork Reservoir, where the Cornucopia scenes were filmed, is off limits to the public, but the lake can be glimpsed from the Craggy Pinnacle Trail, accessed at the Craggy Gardens visitor center on the Blue Ridge Parkway northeast of Asheville. Follow the law and stick to the established trail, the better to minimize damage to the environment.
- Lower Douglas Falls hike: Filmmakers went to Pisgah National Forest’s Coleman Boundary area (aka Big Ivy) to shoot pre-Games scenes of Gale and Katniss. No guarantee that this is the exact spot, but it’s a good place to channel the characters’ connection to the teeming wilderness.
- Navitat canopy tour: Think of Rue soaring through the treetops as you attach the zipline harness for a 3½-hour eco-adventure at Pisgah’s edge. Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) made the trip three times (once at night and once with then-girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens), and six other Tribute players soared here, too.
Return to Asheville, check into your hotel (the lead trio stayed at Hotel Indigo, others at the DoubleTree by Hilton Biltmore) and set out for Wasabi, a favorite Tribute restaurant. Follow your whims and those of the stars to The Southern Kitchen & Bar for a drink or the Arcade for a few games of Pac-Man.
Note: Katniss spent years learning the skills that helped her survive. Begin your own training with wilderness survival courses and workshops at Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City (an hour west of Asheville) and Chimney Rock State Park (40 minutes southeast).
Order breakfast from Early Girl Eatery, where Entertainment Weekly interviewed Hutcherson for its “Men of ‘The Hunger Games’” spread (your server might know how he likes his eggs). Stop by Malaprops Bookstore/Café, a quintessential indie bookshop that championed “The Hunger Games” trilogy well before the cast came by, or survey the Lexington Avenue neighborhood, where Woody Harrelson (Haymitch) returned for September’s Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival. Pick up lunch provisions — it’s almost Games time.
Drive south to DuPont State Recreational Forest, a magnet for mountain bikers, hikers and nature lovers.
DuPont State Recreational Forest
Note: Waterfalls should be enjoyed from a safe distance. Do not attempt to climb or cross them. For waterfall safety tips, click here.
Two uncommonly cool mountain towns await at the end of the trek. Brevard features a compact downtown with irresistible shopping (O.P. Taylors, Theophilus, DD Bullwinkles), galleries (Red Wolf Gallery, Number 7 Arts) and culinary treats (Brown Bean Coffee Roasters, Bracken Mountain Bakery, Rocky's Grill and Soda Shop).
Visitors also can experience the charm of Historic Hendersonville and the Flat Rock area. The region offers something for all ages with varied attractions, festivals, cultural and recreational activities, historical sites, and a quaint downtown district with unique shops, excellent restaurants, galleries and an abundance of quality antique stores.
The Hunger Games
About 80 miles east of Brevard, the unassuming town of Shelby might boast the world’s highest concentration of “Hunger Games” readers. The Reaping and Hob scenes were filmed in private warehouse space near the heart of town, which inspired the local library to use the book for its community reading program. If you have trouble picking out the buildings used in the film, or if you want to know where the paparazzi perched, ask somebody on Lafayette Street as you shop for Hob-worthy items — just as the crew did. And you never know what you might find at Celebrity Consignment Boutique, which is owned by the late Whitney Houston’s sister-in-law. For lunch, try Pleasant City Wood Fired Grille or NiFen Wine and Tapas, which scored with the cast.
NoDa Arts District
Caesar Flickerman would thrill to Uptown Charlotte’s modern architecture and urban sheen. Yet even in the shadow of corporate towers and art-filled plazas, the Capitol’s flamboyant fashionistas drew gapes as costumed extras entered Knight Theater for filming. The theater, Charlotte Convention Center and other venues might not be routinely accessed, but depending on events, you might get inside. Visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame, where it will dawn on you that hovercraft have the same kind of seats as racecars, and hit the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton to see the sculpted chocolate mascot outside the Panemesque Bar Cocoa.
The featured attraction on today’s itinerary is the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Imagine the Gamemakers creating the world’s largest whitewater river, a canyon to cross and a 46-foot rock to climb. Tributes could actually train here — the center offers extensive skills and survival classes. On a visit to ascend the wall, Woody Harrelson offered a glimpse of Haymitch’s capabilities in the Arena. Refresh and renourish at the River’s Edge Bar & Grill.
Download this itinerary for easy reference on the go.
Photo Credit: Lionsgate and Murray Close
added: March 6, 2012
updated: March 23, 2012
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