Halloween thrillers and sweater-stacked romantic comedies: There are certain movies that just feel right to watch once fall arrives. To take your fall movie appreciation up a notch, you can visit the places where they take place.
While it’s a complicated year for travel, we have rounded up 12 popular fall movies and the trips to take inspired by them, whether you save the idea for next fall or live close enough to check them out this season.
If leaf-peeping is your thing, don’t forget to check in with the fall foliage prediction map to time your trip with the season’s best colors in mind.
According to the plot, the romantic comedy “Practical Magic” takes places in a mythical Massachusetts island. But the scenery audiences fell in love with was of Coupeville, Wash., where the movie’s small-town scenes were filmed. The Victorian home featured in the movie doesn’t exist, but visitors to Whidbey Island can stay in equally charming cabins or nearby seaside bed-and-breakfasts.
Remember the Titans
“Remember the Titans” depicts the true story of Herman Boone and the integrated football team he coached at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va. To re-create the fall football vibes of the movie, plan a trip to the D.C. area. Visitors can see the historic sites of D.C. or take short day trip out to Gettysburg, where Boone delivers a moving monologue to his team during a preseason training trip to the hallowed site.
If Georgia is closer to you, plan a fall getaway to see places where most of the movie was filmed. Georgia’ tourism and travel website, Explore Georgia, has outlined an entire self-guided tour for fans to follow. Highlights include visiting Berry College walking trails (which was also featured in the movie “Sweet Home Alabama”), the Silver Skillet (a must for Guy Fieri fans, as it’s been featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”) and Decatur Cemetery.
Garry Marshall’s rom-com “Runaway Bride” put Berlin, Md., on tourists’ radars, even inspiring dedicated walking tours of the picturesque town. Filmed in the autumn of 1998, the Julia Roberts and Richard Gere classic is essentially a 1-hour-and-56-minute-long advertisement for Maryland’s fall foliage. A popular lodging option is the Victorian-period Atlantic Hotel that dates back to 1895.
People turn on “The Craft” when fall rolls around for Halloween-appropriate witch content. While Los Angeles doesn’t have the same fall vibes of many U.S. cities, you can get sweater-ish weather if you go in November. Fans of “The Craft” can take a trip to L.A. to see filming locations like Malibu’s Leo Carrillo State Beach and El Adobe Market in Thai Town.
Dead Poet’s Society
Throw on a blazer and head to Vermont, arguably one of the best places in America to see fall foliage and also where the story of the “Dead Poet’s Society” takes place. The fictional, elite boarding school, Welton Academy, may not exist, but there are plenty of places to stay that channel the same energy. For example, there’s the Reluctant Panther Inn, where you can read Walt Whitman in a clawfoot bathtub, or the Woodstock Inn, where you can take a stab at your own poetry at your room’s writing desk.
If you are a dedicated fan looking to channel your inner “Dead Poet’s Society” boarding school drama, you can go to Middletown, Del., to see some of the filming locations (like the Everett Theatre and St. Andrew’s boarding school). Visitors can stay in one of the state’s historic hotels, and pair their fall-foliage viewing with winery visits by using the Delaware On Tap app.
For many people, fall means gathering with family and sharing meals. George Tillman Jr.’s “Soul Food,” set in Chicago, celebrates just that. The film is hailed as one of the best food movies of all time, so you may want to plan a trip around having easy access to the city’s great restaurants and takeout options.
Another option for travelers is to take a train trip on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited line from D.C. through the Potomac Valley and Allegheny Mountains to Chicago to see even more of the country’s fall foliage. Amtrak now has a feature that shows travelers how full their trains are in real time for those concerned about having the ability to social distance onboard during the pandemic.
Back to School
To embody Rodney Dangerfield this autumn, you’ll need to get in a car and drive through Wisconsin’s stunning changing foliage. End up at the University of Wisconsin at Madison (called “Grand Lake University” in the 1986 film) to see the lakeside college dressed in fall colors. Bonus points if you take this trip wearing a cardigan or find time to drink champagne in a hot tub.
You’ve Got Mail / When Harry Met Sally
Two of Nora Ephron’s most famous romantic comedies feature New York City in the fall. Meg Ryan, too. “When Harry Met Sally” (1989) predominantly has tweed, shoulder pads and chunky knit sweaters, while “You’ve Got Mail” (1998) is all about sweater sets and trench coats. No matter what your wardrobe looks like visiting New York City in autumn, make sure you take time to walk through Central Park to enjoy beautiful fall foliage with a skyscraper backdrop.
The Disney Channel original movie “Halloweentown” was filmed near the Columbia River in St. Helens and Scappoose, Ore. “Halloweentown” enthusiasts can start their trip in Portland, then make their way north to Columbia County. Thanks to the Disney movie’s popularity, St. Helens is transformed into the Spirit of Halloweentown every fall. Visitors can visit the haunted hotel, go on self-guided haunted tours and compete in the annual costume contest, among other seasonal activities.
Good Will Hunting
Fall in Massachusetts — how do you like them apples? A lot of “Good Will Hunting” was filmed in Toronto, but many iconic moments from the movie take place in Boston and Cambridge, Mass. You don’t need to sneak into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and solve math problems, but you can stay nearby or in Boston. Make sure to visit Boston Public Garden, where Matt Damon and Robin Williams have a pivotal heart-to-heart in the film.
While most of Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow” was filmed in Britain, the legendary town of Sleepy Hollow does exist for people to visit. October is high season for the New York town’s historic 90-acre Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, the final resting place for the likes of Washington Irving, Andrew Carnegie and William Rockefeller. The area is full of charming hotels and inns for fall visitors to choose from.
For many Americans, Hocus Pocus is the fall movie that comes to mind the moment pumpkin-spiced flavors hit coffee shops and bakeries. Fans of the film dream of visiting Salem, Mass., around Halloween, along with millions of other visitors who flock to the town in October. Our recommendation for visiting Salem would be to rent a historic home on Airbnb (some even advertise as being “close to the Hocus Pocus house”).
If you do go see the filming locations, show your respect by not trespassing on properties like character Max Dennison’s home, where the same family has lived since the movie was filmed.
“[Tourists] do all sorts of things,” says Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem, the town’s tourism department. “Walking on their porches, intruding on their private property and crossing property lines is inappropriate.”