10 Best Summer (Vacation) Movies

If you’re looking for summer road trip inspiration, here’s a list of movies from the 1950s to the present and the summer vacation locations they highlight.

Singin’ In The Rain (1952)

Who could forget Gene Kelly dancing with an umbrella and buckets of water while singing the song “Singin’ In The Rain?” Better yet, where will you find a better example of old Hollywood’s silver screen heyday? This is one of those fun, feel good, movies that never lose its charm.

Road Trip Tips: The movie was filed in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Culver City, CA, and in Grauman’s Chinese Theater, 6925 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA.

North By Northwest (1959)

Cary Grant hanging off the edge of Mt. Rushmore is just one of the many scenes that make this movie worth viewing. Of course, they won’t let you get that close to the monument at the real Mt. Rushmore!

Road Trip Tips: Visit Mt. Rushmore and either spend a few days soaking up nature in a tent, or rent a hotel room in Rapid City, SD and take in the nightlife. You won’t find a better selection of Black Hills Gold anywhere, and both the Badlands and Sturgis are a short drive away.

The Graduate (1967)

Much of the action in the graduate occurs in a swimming pool and a room at the fictitious Taft Hotel. The Ambassador Hotel is where the scenes between Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson conducting their affair were filmed. Unfortunately, the Ambassador was torn down in 2006 and has since been replaced with three new schools.

Road Trip Tips: The former location of The Ambassador Hotel is 3400 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA. The wedding scene was filmed in La Verne, CA; and the college scenes were filmed at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles , CA.

Easy Rider (1969)

One of the harsher movies in this list, Easy Rider is not for the young people in the family! This motorcycle road trip classic follows two men traveling across country and meeting a wide variety of people along the way.

Road Trip Tips: One of the most memorable stops in this movie is New Orleans, LA. The scene at the redneck cafe occurs in Morganza, LA and the last scene of the movie occurs in Krotz Springs, LA.

The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather is a classic. There’s no question about it. But it’s one of those movies that are completely immersed in a specific location because the characters are drawn directly out of the culture of the people of live there. Watch the Godfather, and you may find that a visit to Little Italy is an offer you can’t refuse.

Road Trip Tips: The christening scene occurs at Old St Patrick’s Cathedral, 264 Mulberry Street, Little Italy, Manhattan, NYC. The bar, where Sollozzo meets up with Luca Brasi, is in the Edison Hotel, 228 West 47th Street, NYC. And then there’s Little Italy itself!

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)

The single most prominent feature of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind is not the aliens, it’s Devil’s Tower National Monument. The entire purpose behind the main character’s road trip across country is to get to the tower. No reasonable explanation as to why this was so important, he just had to do it. And then, when he got there — he made some new friends! It’s like a Science Fiction version of summer camp for adults!

Road Trip Tips: The KOA at Devil’s Tower played Close Encounters on an outdoor movie screen for (literally) decades. Call to find out if they are still offering a free viewing under the tower itself!

ET (1982)

The most endearing Extra Terrestrial to ever cross the silver screen has got to be ET. Young kids meet up with a helpless but friendly (and oh so cute) visitor from outer space and then do everything in their power to help him go home. If your kids haven’t seen it, then it’s time to pop some popcorn and sit down for family movie night. Besides, it makes the perfect ending to a summer day when the kids have been riding their bikes everywhere they possibly can, because nothing will ever outdo that bike scene under the full moon!

Road Trip Tips: The scene in the Redwoods was filmed in Redwood National Park, Crescent City, CA. The flying bicycle scene occurred on White Oak Avenue between Tribune Street and San Fernando Mission Boulevard, in the Porter Ranch district of the San Fernando Valley, CA.

Dirty Dancing (1987)

Dirty Dancing is not only a summer movie; it’s a summer camp movie! Baby’s family takes everyone to the usual place, for fun in the sun and a few dance lessons. The adventure proceeds from there.

Road Trip Tips: Much of the movie’s action occurs at the Grove Park Inn, 290 Macon Avenue, Asheville, NC; and the Mountain Lake Resort, 115 Hotel Circle, Pembroke, VA

Thelma and Louise (1991)

While the ending isn’t as happy as many of the other movies on this list, the road trip can’t be beat. This movie has action, suspense, drama, and controversy galore. It will make you want to get your hands on a classic convertible, gather your girlfriends together, and drive all the way to the Grand Canyon ‘” but for happier reasons.

Road Trip Tips: The Grand Canyon is the most powerful landscape in the entire movie. Strangely enough, the scene was actually the Colorado River flowing through Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah.

Sleepless In Seattle (1993)

Possibly one of the best romantic comedies ever filmed. It’s a long distance romance that is made all the more endearing because if it’s near impossibility. Go ahead, buy a box of tissues and enjoy the love.

Road Trip Tips: The landmarks in this film are easy to locate and fun to visit: The Empire State Building in NYC, Pike Place Market in Seattle, and Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Bonus: Smoke Signals (1998)
This movie focuses on a road trip taken by two Native American men, as they travel from the reservation to pick up a relative’s ashes. It’s an excellent script with strong acting and beautiful landscapes.

Road Trip Tips: Places featured in the film include Sun Lakes State Park, Coeur d’Alene, ID, and Spokane, WA.

Sources:
For more information about these and other movies, visit http://www.imdb.com .