The Pop Culture Road Trip

Blockbuster movies are now as much a part of summer as flip flops, sun block, and backyard barbecues.

And while a cool dark theater is a nice escape on a broiling day, if you hit the road you can also discover some movie magic on the outside – by visiting the exact spots where the magic was made. 
Here are some summer movie locations around the U.S., culled from my 2003 book, “James Dean Died Here – The Locations of America’s Pop Culture Landmarks.”



Vineyard, Massachusetts

Spielberg’s 1975 classic was set on fictitious “Amity Island” but it was really
Martha’s Vineyard, the trendy retreat off the coast of Massachusetts. There are
several easily identifiable locations that would be of interest to fans of the

Joseph A. Sylvia State Beach is where swimmers go crazy after the attack on the
young boy. Next to it is the American Legion Memorial Bridge where we see the
shark swim safely back to sea.

At the intersection of Water and Main Streets in Edgartown is the town center
where Chief Brody collects materials for the beach closure signs they suddenly

Quint’s workshop was located in Menemsha, a fishing port at the southwest tip
of the island. It’s exact location was the inlet between the General Store and
the Galley Restaurant. It’s now an empty lot.



Lonzo Street


is the house used as Elliot’s home in Steven Spielberg’s classic 1982 film, E.T.
Situated in the hills of the
Tujunga Valley, northeast of the San Fernando Valley, it’s located at the end
of a cul de sac and can be easily recognized by the familiar mountain peak
behind it.

of the Jedi

Moon of Endor

Smith Redwood State Park

City, California

The towering redwood trees of Northern
California (some up to 300 feet tall) served as the Moon of Endor in George
Lucas’s third Star Wars
installment, Return of the Jedi. These were some of the first
scenes from the series filmed in this country. Additionally, the Tatooine
scenes (including the battle at Jabba’s Sail Barge above the Sarlacc Pit) were
shot near Yuma in the Arizona Desert in Buttercup Valley.


City Barbecue Restaurant

West Market Street

Diego, California

the blockbuster 1986 film Top Gun
, this popular eatery was the flyer’s hangout where
Anthony Edwards banged out “Great Balls of Fire.” The movie, starring
Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, and Kelly McGillis, was a major hit due to the blend of
the Giorgio Moroder score, the romance, and of course the wild F-15 dogfight


and Oahu, Hawaii

of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 dinosaur smash was filmed on the Garden Isle of
Kauai. Many of the places are hard to reach by car, but numerous helicopter
tours can take you right down into the midst of them. Some of the more notable
locations include:

Falls in Hanapepe Valley is where John Hammond’s helicopter arrives.

giant “Jurassic Park” gates stood by a water-filled canyon called Blue Hole
near the center of the island. It’s a long but beautiful five-hour hike to get
there from Wailua, on the island’s rugged eastern coast.

electrical fence that the T-Rex broke through was built in Kauai’s Olokele

Oahu: The wonderful scene where the herd of Gallimimus charge past Sam Neill
and the kids is actually on the island of Ohau at the Kualoa Ranch, Kamehameha
Highway, Ka’a’awa Valley. The ranch can be toured and you can even pose for
pictures under the fallen tree where Neil hides from the dinosaurs with the
kids. (Remember when the T. Rex appears and attacks the flock?) Located about
20 miles north of Honolulu, the number is 800-231-7321.

The “Badlands” scene near the start of the movie was not actually in Utah, but
at Red Rock Canyon in the Mojave Desert, 25 miles northeast of Mojave,

What is your favorite summer movie? Or even better – do you have a favorite summer movie location?



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