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Silver Screen Travel

January 28, 2015
This is the time of year when even those only minimally interested in movies have one eye on the silver screen. The major award shows seem to come every weekend, and the multiplexes feature many of the previous year’s best releases. Of course, when minds turn to cinema, they often also turn to Los Angeles or New York, the great centers of American film. But making movies is no longer just the province of the two largest cities in the country – and that means that your donors can make a cinema-themed adventure out of a trip to several different locations.

The Mitch-Stuart, Inc. catalog of non-profit auction travel packages includes trips all around the world, for all sorts of occasions. Some of our favorite destinations can make a film lover’s dream come true, all while experiencing a luxurious vacation and benefiting your charity.

National Mall
National Mall
Wrigley Field
Biltmore in Asheville
A major reason for a film to shoot outside of Los Angeles or New York is when its setting is so iconic that it can’t be faked. Since even a major movie studio likely doesn’t have the space to reproduce the National Mall, Washington D.C. sees more than its fair share of productions. While the actual halls of power – the Oval Office, the Supreme Court chamber, the House of Representatives and the Senate – are reproduced on sound stages far away, other city-specific locations like the Kennedy Center (seen in “State of Play” and “All the President’s Men”), the Lincoln Memorial (“Wedding Crashers,” “Election” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” among others) and the National Mall (“Three Days of the Condor,” “Dave” and “National Treasure”) have all made for important backdrops. The city has loaned more than just federal monuments to the silver screen, too: Local culinary favorite Ben’s Chili Bowl shows up in “The Pelican Brief” and “State of Play,” along with many television shows.

Chicago may be best known for its lively theater scene (especially improvisational comedy factories like Second City and iO), but it’s also been the setting for some of cinema’s most beloved stories. In particular, director/writer John Hughes set most of his films in and around the Windy City, and many of the locations seen on the screen can be seen in person, as well. Ferris Bueller and his co-conspirators take in the Art Institute of Chicago and Wrigley Field during his “day off,” Northbrook Mall showed up in “Weird Science,” though many of the stores have changed, and churches like Glencoe Union and Trinity United Methodist hosted scenes from “Sixteen Candles” and “Home Alone,” respectively. Private tours from companies like Viator take tourists around the city on a regular basis, either for general film tours or for movie-specific experiences (“The Blues Brothers” is a popular one).

Not every city with a thriving film industry is a major metropolis, though. For a mix of movie magic and a small-town feel, head to Asheville, North Carolina. Films like “Forrest Gump,” “The Hunger Games” and “Dirty Dancing” made use of the city for locations. One setting in particular has become a favorite for Hollywood scouts: The Biltmore Estate has shown up in the aforementioned “Gump,” the film version of “Hannibal” and more than a dozen other recognizable titles. The best news: Visitors can see the estate, tour its vineyards, have a meal at its Dining Room (featuring estate-raised beef and lamb) or even get married on the grounds.