North Carolina is a film mecca, with more than 800 productions shot in our state since 1980. And the area around Asheville alone – brimming with art and culture, charming mountain towns and delicious restaurant options – has starred in a number of popular films throughout the years.
Dance where Johnny and Baby danced, run where Forrest ran, and explore all these magical spots in western North Carolina that have appeared on the big screen.
Lovers of Dirty Dancing have the time of their lives re-enacting the iconic lake lift scene from the 1987 classic, which was largely shot in Lake Lure among the Blue Ridge Foothills. Each September, celebrate the film at the Dirty Dancing Festival, which draws fans for an annual Lake Lift Competition, a lakeside screening of the film, and overnights in Dirty Dancing-themed cabins at The 1927 Lake Lure Inn and Spa.
The Last of the Mohicans
The Last of the Mohicans
Some of the most intense scenes of the 1992 adventure The Last of the Mohicans were shot on and around Chimney Rock, a 315-foot-long jutting rock formation, about 40 minutes east of Asheville. Hike to panoramic views of forests before trekking the Hickory Nut Falls Trail to the 404-foot falls (one of the tallest in the East). For a less demanding hike, follow the Great Woodland Adventure Trail, which winds past 12 Discovery Stations.
A couple of the most dramatic scenes from the 1993 action thriller were filmed southwest of Asheville near North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains. In Robbinsville, you get a view of the Cheoah Dam from which Harrison Ford's character leaped in The Fugitive. About an hour east is the site of the train wreck during Ford's character's prison transport. It was filmed on a stretch of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, and the best way to see the carnage is by parking on Haywood Road near Jackson County Green Energy Park and looking down the slope.
This comedy is based on a not-so-funny true story in which several North Carolinians pulled off a $17 million heist in Charlotte in 1997. Bustling Pack Square Park made several cameos in the film and remains a magnet in downtown Asheville today with wandering musicians, festivals, theater and lots of events for family outings. Moviegoers will recognize the square in several scenes, including one from the film's trailer with Bomba coffee shop in the background. You can also eat like the stars while visiting the area: Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis went for a wood-fired masterpiece at All Souls Pizza, while Zach Galifianakis couldn’t resist the ‘cue at 12 Bones Smokehouse.
With a canine hero and a healing theme, sniffing out scenes from this 2015 family-friendly film has layers of appeal. Explore the cinematic scenery and waterfalls at DuPont State Recreational Forest between Hendersonville and Brevard. Or ford the Little River on bikes just like Justin and his friends did below Hooker Falls. Filmmakers also shot footage along the Triple Falls Trail, which runs parallel to the river and passes three of the forest’s star waterfalls. And if you want to explore the beautiful cliffs featured in the film, take Rock Quarry Road and let the fun begin.
Home to the Mile High Swinging Bridge, hiking trails, wildlife habitats, a nature museum and stunning views, Grandfather Mountain in Linville also boasts the “Forrest Gump Curve” – a section of road where Tom Hanks’ famous character actually ran during his cross-country trip in the Academy Award-winning film. Get your camera ready – you’ll pass it as you leave the wildlife habitats and head up to the bridge.
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games
The Road to Panem starts in North Carolina, and it includes Charlotte, Asheville and a few stops in between. The North Fork Reservoir, where the Cornucopia scenes were filmed, is off limits to the public, but you can see the lake from the Craggy Pinnacle Trail, accessed at the Craggy Gardens visitors center on the Blue Ridge Parkway northeast of Asheville. To play like the stars did, visit Navitat Canopy Adventures. Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) soared through the trees three times (once at night and once with then-girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens), and six other Tribute players made the trip here too.
Bonus: Biltmore, the largest private residence in the United States, and its grounds have starred in some huge Hollywood hits:
- Forrest Gump
- Richie Rich
- The Swan
- Patch Adams
- The Last of the Mohicans
- The Odd Life of Timothy Green
For a full listing of films shot in our state since 1950, visit filmnc.com.