North Carolina Filming Locations You Need To Visit

North Carolina: Where the magic of the movies comes to life. Wait, what? Though it might sound surprising, North Carolina has played host to several films and television series over the years. Despite being on the opposite side of the country from Hollywood, filmmakers seem to be drawn to the state's diversity of landscapes.

Within the same day, North Carolina visitors can experience the beauty of the ocean, the majesty of the mountains, the bustle of a city, and the calm of farmland. The state's locales can meet the needs of just about any story or genre, whether the narrative takes place in North Carolina or somewhere else.

From "Saturday Night Live" stars to Academy Award winners and even "The Hunger Games" contestants, many mighty names have filmed and featured in productions throughout the state. Whether you're a movie buff looking to nerd out or a local Carolinian curious to uncover little-known history about your home, here are a few North Carolina filming locations you need to visit.

NoDa (Please Don't Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain)

"Saturday Night Live" writers Martin Herlihy, John Higgins, and Ben Marshall — collectively known as the comedy trio Please Don't Destroy — star in the 2023 Peacock film "Please Don't Destroy: The Legend of Foggy Mountain." The movie set up shop in various locations in the vicinities of Charlotte, Crowders Mountain, and South Mountains State Park in summer 2022.

There's no real Foggy Mountain in North Carolina, though the film's story does take place in the state, as evidenced by road signage and the state flag visible in several scenes. Many of the filming locations are ordinary, nondescript, or inaccessible to visitors, such as a local resident's home and the interior of an abandoned Dick's Sporting Goods at Northlake Mall.

The most prominent and visitable North Carolina hotspot in "The Treasure of Foggy Mountain" is NoDa, short for North Davidson and pronounced "NO-duh." The arts district of Charlotte, the main thoroughfare of NoDa is lined with murals, eateries, small performance venues, and thrift stores, all of which are visible in the opening minutes of the movie. The lead trio roller skate down North Davidson Street on their way to work, passing by local spots like Billy Jack's Shack, The Evening Muse, and others. The scene preserves some history, too. On the left is a building painted aqua. It's now completely white, home to the newly relocated Old News Vintage. And that mountain in the background? Completely fake.

Grandfather Mountain (Forrest Gump)

In the film that bears his name, Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) runs across the entire United States several times over. Why? "I just felt like running," Forrest simply explains. His run lasts three years, two months, 14 days, and 16 hours, after which he finally becomes tired.

Among the many locales and different types of terrain that director Robert Zemeckis shows Forrest running through is a beautiful mountainside. A paved road winds up a mountain, with gorgeous silhouettes of distant mountains in the background. This stretch of road is located on Grandfather Mountain, part of the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, North Carolina.

Grandfather Mountain is home to animal viewing locations, an intense hike, nature trails, and the infamous mile-high bridge, a bridge whose high elevation between its two mountainous cliffs is not for the faint of heart. Upon arriving at Grandfather Mountain, visitors are handed an audio CD. If your car is old enough to play the disc, you can listen to fun facts and history about the mountain as you drive up, including the backstory of that famous Forrest scene.

Henry River Mill Village (The Hunger Games)

Though "The Hunger Games" may share a few key similarities with other teen-based book-to-screen fantasy films of its day, its location isn't necessarily one many audience members would want to inhabit. Though its narrative is action-packed and intriguing, the settings of "The Hunger Games" largely revolve around hardship in an impoverished town and a fight to the death inside a dome. Not exactly the same kind of marketability that drew Universal to build the fanciful Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at its theme parks.

Therefore, the only way to be truly immersed in the world of "The Hunger Games" is to visit the real thing. Well, sort of. Even if fans of "The Hunger Games" may not want to actually live out the experience of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), they can still make a trip to the place Katniss called home: District 12. The film cast Henry River Mill Village in Hickory, North Carolina, as the substitute for District 12, the dilapidated area Katniss leaves behind to participate in the Games.

Visitors can tour Henry River Mill Village for $18 (or free for ages 17 and under). The once-flourishing textile mill and surrounding homes were built in 1905; today, the site is a member of the National Register of Historic Places. Alternatively, you could opt to travelerblog some of the state's forests, also seen onscreen in the film.

Wilmington (Dawson's Creek and One Tree Hill)

If you're a fan of "Dawson's Creek" and always wanted to take a trip to Massachusetts to vicariously live the Capeside fantasy of your dreams, we have good news and bad news. The good news is, you can! The bad news (which is actually good news) is that you'll need to visit North Carolina instead of Massachusetts. In the television show — which ran for six seasons from 1998-2003 — the fictional Capeside, Massachusetts, is actually Wilmington, North Carolina and its surrounding coastal area. Local beaches, restaurants, storefronts, and attractions all substituted for a made-up location situated hundreds of miles from where the "Dawson's Creek" narrative was set.

Likewise, "One Tree Hill" aired on The WB from 2003-2012 and was also filmed in Wilmington. The show's studio digs resided at a facility operated by EUE/Screen Gems (and now managed by Cinespace Studios). While the series' setting of Tree Hill is a fictional town, it's meant to exist in North Carolina, contrasting to the nation-traversing mind tricks of "Dawson's Creek."

The crews of both teen dramas demonstrated a commitment to shooting on location for the entirety of the show's run, an impressive decision considering so much of the filmmaking industry exists elsewhere. Want to take it upon yourself to see as many locations as you can? The Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau curated a handy list with photos, addresses, and a recommended navigation route for both "Dawson's Creek" and "One Tree Hill."

Sylva (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Everyone remembers the 2017 Oscar-winning movie "Three Billboards Outside Sylva, North Carolina," right? What's that? That's not the name of the movie? Well, that can't be right because— oh, wait. Ok. We see what happened here. Let's start over.

In an ironic twist, a movie inspired by actual events that proclaims its location's name in its title wasn't filmed there. For starters, that's because there is no such place as Ebbing, Missouri. In fact, the crux of the story stemmed from billboards that writer/director Martin McDonagh saw in Texas. However, Donagh set his story in Missouri rather than the Lone Star State, and in turn, the movie crew opted to film in North Carolina rather than postulate where in Missouri Ebbing might exist.

As such, upon visiting Sylva, North Carolina — 46 miles southwest of Asheville — travelers may recognize the downtown area as a prominent filming location for many scenes in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." When strolling the shops and restaurants of the area, fans of the film can easily imagine Frances McDormand traversing the streets to have a word with Sam Rockwell about his character's frustrating lack of efficiency in his management of the police department.

Freedom Park (Shallow Hal)

The 2001 romantic comedy "Shallow Hal" was filmed in Charlotte, North Carolina. While many locations throughout the city may be recognizable to locals, arguably its most beloved landmark — and the one most worth seeking out — is Freedom Park.

In the film, Freedom Park is where Hal (Jack Black) introduces his friend Mauricio (Jason Alexander) to his girlfriend, Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow). The inviting greenery and beautiful lake in the background are unmistakable to any resident of the 704 area code.

Sprawling 98 acres, Freedom Park is suitable for walking, running, biking, picnicking, or enjoying the onsite playgrounds or tennis courts. No wonder Hal and Rosemary hang out here. The glow of the dappled light framed by tree foliage behind Hal, Rosemary, and Mauricio captures the radiance of Freedom Park well. The public park welcomes visitors and is located near uptown Charlotte, close to the neighborhoods of Myers Park and Dilworth.