Winter had trespassed into spring the day I visited Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg, Austria, where Julie Andrews and the Von Trapp children sang and danced their way through “Do-Re-Mi.” Snowflakes stuck to my nose and eyelashes and also found their icy way down my neck.
Not that I cared. As a fan of “The Sound of Music” since forever, I was thrilled to skip in the footsteps of Maria & Co., snow and all.
Turns out visiting the setting of a much-loved movie is a popular pastime, from the bar of the Park Hyatt Tokyo (“Lost in Translation”) to New York’s Cafe Lalo (“You’ve Got Mail”).
You too can make a scene at these real-world locations connected to classic films and fan favourites.
See props, costumes, sets and more at the Harry Potter studio tour in Leavesdon, north of London. “Warner Bros. Studio Tour London — The Making of Harry Potter” is located next to the studios where the movies were filmed.
Other Potter places include King’s Cross Station in London, where officials have obligingly added a sign for the fictional “Platform 9-3/4” complete with a trolley embedded in a wall, and Leadenhall Market, which provided exteriors for Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron in the first movie.
In Scotland, the Glenfinnan Viaduct is instantly recognizable as the bridge that carries the Hogwarts Express. The Jacobite Steam Train passes over the viaduct travelling from Fort William to Mallaig.
The movie of Stephen King’s horror novel “The Shining” wasn’t shot at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, but it was the inspiration for creepy Overlook Hotel. King and his wife were the sole guests at the Stanley shortly before a seasonal closing when King was visited by a nightmare that germinated into the ghoulish plot. The story involves an off-season caretaker who becomes a maniac after discovering the hotel’s secrets. Ghost tours are available and the hotel has installed a hedge maze (featured in the movie, not the book). The Stanley was used during filming of “The Shining” TV series and has been a location for the movie “Dumb and Dumber.”
THE THIRD MAN
This noir classic starring Orson Welles as the amoral Harry Lime showed the gritty as well as the picturesque side of Vienna in the aftermath of World War II. There are tours in Lime’s footsteps and a Third Man Museum with film memorabilia. You can visit the giant ferris wheel (Riesenrad), where Lime and his former friend, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten), meet in a showdown that still crackles with menace.
WHEN HARRY MET SALLY
Katz’s Delicatessen on New York’s Lower East Side makes a fine pastrami sandwich but a lot of folks show up here more interested in having “what she’s having.” This was the setting of the scene in which Meg Ryan’s character, Sally, demonstrates to Billy Crystal’s character, Harry, that he knows less about women than he thinks. Be prepared to pay $20 or more for a signature sandwich.
LORD OF THE RINGS
Middle-earth has been a high point for New Zealand tourism. Scores of tours take in the film’s stunning landscapes, from beautiful Lake Wakatipu in the South Island to the North Island’s Hobbiton, a former movie set for the Shire.
THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN, LA DOLCE VITA, ROMAN HOLIDAY
Anita Ekberg (“La Dolce Vita”) waded in it, evening gown and all. Audrey Hepburn (“Roman Holiday”) got her hair cut near it. And Dorothy McGuire (“Three Coins in the Fountain”) made a wish on it. We’re talking Trevi Fountain, a Rome must-see. Time your visit early or late; it’s crowded.
Even if you’ve never watched any of the “Rocky” movies (guilty), chances are you’re familiar with the stirring scene(s) where Sylvester Stallone bounds up the steps to Philadelphia’s Museum of Art. Run, walk or just amble your way up the 72 steps. Then turn around and enjoy the view of the city.
LA LA LAND, REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE
Griffith Observatory, set in the hills above Los Angeles, is worth visiting no matter what. The views are spectacular on a clear night. But movie fans have extra motivation. The planetarium inspired the dance scene (actually shot on a movie set) where Mia and Sebastian waltz among the stars.
“La La Land” references another movie that used the setting to dramatic effect, “Rebel Without a Cause.” A knife fight between Jim (James Dean) and Buzz (Corey Allen) takes place at the observatory (following a visit to the planetarium) as does the 1955 classic’s wrenching finale.
A CHRISTMAS STORY
This 1985 movie about a boy who yearns for a Red Ryder BB gun is a holiday tradition for many. The Cleveland, Ohio, house where Ralphie and his family lived is open for tours and even overnight stays with a museum across the street. (Note: An annual maintenance closure is Feb. 12-23 this year.)
Quirky and charming, “Amelie,” the 2001 hit starring Audrey Tatou, features several locations in Paris’ Montmartre district. Cafe des 2 Moulins, where Amelie works, is a neighbourhood hangout but you’ll find an “Amelie” poster on the wall and a few other links to the film.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Bus or van tours take fans to many “Sound of Music” locations around Salzburg. With a map, you can find some spots yourself. Several lake scenes were shot at the Schloss Leopoldskron, now a hotel and conference centre. The (smallish) palace is decorated in grand style, including an ornate and gilded “Venetian room” which inspired the movie’s much-larger ballroom. Don’t miss: sitting on the terrace and channeling some well-bred snark, baroness style.
Michelle Locke tweets at @Locke_Michelle