Image: “Bridges of Madison County”
Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep star in the romantic drama “The Bridges of Madison County.”
updated 2/22/2007 9:47:47 AM ET 2007-02-22T14:47:47

Sometimes it's not the director, or the editing, or even the actors that make a movie — it's the scenery. If you've ever been so inspired by a movie's landscapes that you wanted to book your trip right there and then, you know exactly what we mean. And while there are places that are synonymous with the big screen (New York and Paris come to mind) we've focused on off-the-beaten-path locales that captured the imagination of travelers everywhere when they appeared on the silver screen. Whether you're moved by a gorgeous stretch of sandy beach or the tranquil greenery of a small town, we've scouted out ten less-talked-about movie locales well worth a visit.

1. Angkor
You won't find any secret artifacts entombed in temples here like the one Lara Croft (played by Angelina Jolie) discovered in the film “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001), but Cambodia's maze of ancient temples, dating back earlier than the 9th century is sure to evoke a sense of wonder and mystery. Of particular interest is Ta Prohm, the star temple featured in the movie — where Jolie fell into the hidden tomb. The neighboring town of Siam Reap offers hotels, restaurants, and spas aplenty. It was while filming here that Jolie fell in love with the country's arresting beauty and was inspired to adopt her Cambodian son.

2. Goa
Known for its endless beaches and all-night seaside bashes, India's Goa is also home to laid-back charm, medieval small towns, quaint villages, and lush green forests. The hedonistic hotspot has a romantic side as well, tranquility that proves perfect for those looking for a romantic respite. That's what Jason Bourne and his girlfriend Marie were after in the opening scenes of “The Bourne Supremacy” (2004), but their peaceful beach getaway soon gave way to a fast-action car chase; the surrounding scenery was so beautiful it had travelers the world-over ready to book a trip.

3. Madison County
When “The Bridges of Madison County” (1995) came to the big screen, cinema buffs flocked to Madison County, Iowa, to see for themselves where this visually stunning and hopelessly romantic movie was filmed. If you find yourself in this peaceful place in the Midwest, be sure to take a picture of the Roseman and Holliwell covered bridges, the reason why Clint Eastwood's character (Robert Kincaid) comes to Madison County and ultimately meets Francesca. You can also stop in at the Northside Café and the Stone Bridge, both featured in the film.

4. Memphis
The marriage of music and movies is best found in the city of Memphis, an icon of rock, pop, and soul. For a half-century it has been dubbed the "Home of the Blues" and the "Birthplace of Rock-n-Roll," but movie buffs know it has also starred in Hollywood hits and Oscar award-winning films. Whether chronicling the lives of legendary giants Jerry Lee Lewis (“Great Balls of Fire;” 1989) and Johnny Cash (“Walk the Line;” 2005), or setting the scene for the story of a pimp turned rapper (“Hustle & Flow;” 2005), the city's love for music is best characterized in its vibrant nightlife. Pair that with southern-style cuisine, and you'll find a number of ways to cure just about any bout of the blues.

5. Montreal
Montreal is no stranger to the big screen — it's just that the city most often finds itself acting a double for someplace else. Not so in “Afterglow” (1997), however — this movie about two Montreal couples was filmed here, but more importantly, lets the city take center stage. Fans of the film will want to stop by the bar at the Ritz-Carlton, where one of the films most important scenes takes place. Foreign-language film fans will recognize the city landscape featured in “Les Invasions Barbares” (The Barbarian Invasions; 2003), the winner of the Foreign Language Film Oscar.

6. Philadelphia
Philly's first starring role was as the birthplace of the nation, but its appearance in several modern-day movies has made it a star on the silver screen as well. Movie fans will forgo following in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers to recreate Sylvester Stallone's run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the original “Rocky” (1976), or to grab a table at the Striped Bass restaurant, where Bruce Willis and Olivia Williams share a scene in the Oscar-winning film “The Sixth Sense” (1999). Visit Philly locales in film by heading to more than 60 film locations like those seen in “12 Monkeys” (1995), “National Treasure” (2004), and “Philadelphia’ (1993) on a bus tour offered by the Greater Philadelphia Film Office.

7. Santa Barbara
It's no wonder that Hollywood's eyes regularly wander north to Santa Barbara, situated between palm-fringed Pacific beaches and the ever-green Santa Ynez Mountains. Though its idyllic wine country was popularized in the film “Sideways” (2004), the region's landscapes were also featured in more than a thousand films between 1912 and 1921, and again in the more recent film “Seabiscuit” (2003). You can opt to sleep where the stars slept — like the Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort, a favorite of Clark Gable and Roy Rogers, or to sign up for an outing with a local tour company specializing in the region's cinematic past.

8. Savannah
Seductive and full of mystery, with a haunted past and a spellbinding face — Savannah is a city full of drama, a true southern belle sure to steal the show. Voodoo magic and deep-rooted history attract film scouts here where evocative scenery provides an unforgettable and compelling backdrop. Savannah snags the lead in “Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil” (1997), a film that was as much about the city itself as the characters. Savannah's gardens, grand old homes, wacky vagabonds, rich aristocrats, and Old South idiosyncrasies are perfectly poised for the silver screen.

Slideshow: The Emerald City

9. Seattle
Nicknamed the Emerald City by locals, this rainy city has provided major inspiration for romantic comedies. Visit the houseboat where Tom Hanks was “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993) or the Pike Place Market, a foodie haven and also the backdrop for one of that film's major scenes. After some espresso from the original Starbucks, you'll feel like singing just like Heath Ledger in teen flick “Ten Things I Hate about You” (1999). Seattle is also a musical city, and the “Singles” movie soundtrack launched many of the city's famed alternative rock bands.

10. St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, Russia is a city as beautiful as the famed Bond girls, and as such was given a starring role in the flick “Goldeneye” (1995). This so-called "Venice of the North" is the cultural capital of Russia, and the camera loves the onion-domed palaces, countless bridges, and curving canals. Art lovers and movie buffs alike should tour the Hermitage museum and the galleries seen in “Russkiy kovcheg” (Russian Ark; 2002). For the full cinematic experience, time your visit to enjoy the St. Petersburg film festival held each June.


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