On Location: Visit the sets of 5 movies filmed in the South

From The Hunger Games in North Carolina to Steel Magnolias in Louisiana
Henry River Mill Village in Hickory, North Carolina

Courtesy of Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours

Hickory, North Carolina
Venture into the dystopian community of District 12, childhood home of The Hunger Games’ main character, Katniss Everdeen, at Hickory’s Henry River Mill Village. Visit Everdeen’s house, explore the rundown village (once a real-life textile manufacturing community), and check out the Mellark family bakery with Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours. The nearly three-hour adventure includes archery lessons, scene reenactments (dress up as Peeta, Katniss, and other District 12 residents), and a game of archery tag—with foam-tipped arrows, of course.

Jackson Lake Island in Millbrook, Alabama

Photograph by Lynn Bright

Millbrook, Alabama
A portion of Tim Burton’s 2003 cult classic Big Fish takes place in Spectre, a town custom-built for the movie on Jackson Lake Island outside Montgomery. Visitors can explore the abandoned houses and church on set and even camp on the private island for a small fee. Be on the lookout for the island’s friendly goats among the dilapidated buildings, and leave your mark by tossing a pair of shoes over the power line at the town’s entrance.

Fairview Inn in Jackson, Mississippi

Photograph courtesy of Visit Jackson

Jackson, Mississippi
The Belhaven and Fondren neighborhoods of Mississippi’s capital served as backdrops for the 2011 Academy Award–winning period film The Help. Book a room at the historic Fairview Inn, where some of the cast and crew stayed during filming (it also got a mention in the movie). Then grab a cheeseburger and a chocolate malt at Brent’s Drugs, the 1946 soda fountain that fans of the movie will easily recognize for its multiple cameos. If you’re a fan of the original book, embark on a self-guided driving tour (route available through Visit Jackson) that hits thirty relevant spots, some of which were part of the movie as well.

Atlanta Movie Hero Tour

Photograph courtesy of Atlanta Movie Tours

Atlanta, Georgia
With one of the top film industries in the nation, Georgia plays host to numerous movies and TV shows, including many from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For fans of the acclaimed franchise, booking a Hero Tour with Atlanta Movie Tours is a no-brainer. The three-hour bus tour stops at spots across the city featured in various Marvel movies including Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. The tours are frequently updated to incorporate the latest film locales, and the company also offers The Walking Dead tours, a new Stranger Things tour, and more.

Steel Magnolias House in Natchitoches, Louisiana

Photograph courtesy of Natchitoches CVB

Natchitoches, Louisiana
Celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Steel Magnolias on a pilgrimage to Natchitoches—playwright Robert Harling’s hometown, which served as the location for the film. November 7 through 10, the charming community will host events in honor of the beloved Southern flick, including an armadillo cake bake-off, character look-alike competitions, and a red-carpet screening at Parkway Cinema, where the movie originally premiered in 1989. If you can’t make the anniversary celebration, Tour Natchitoches with Barbara offers guided Steel Magnolias tours year round, visiting sites such as Truvy’s Beauty Shop, the Eatenton family home (now the Steel Magnolias House Bed & Breakfast), and St. Augustine Catholic Church in Melrose, site of Shelby’s wedding.

This article appears in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Southbound.