South Carolina is a place of astonishing natural beauty, remarkable architecture and charming small-town Americana. It's no wonder that hundreds of movies and television shows have been filmed in the Palmetto State.
Often, though, those South Carolina scenes were shot on private property, and aren't accessible to the public. Sometimes, the scenes are quick, and while lovely, not terribly memorable.
But sometimes-sometimes-the scenery in a film is as important a character as the people. Some films are just so beloved that they live in our hearts, and the chance to see where the magic happened is too much to pass up. And even rarer, there are scenes in movies so romantic, so iconic, so overwhelming, you just want to relive it yourself, in real life.
This is a list of the places where you can do just that: not just look at the places where a scene was filmed, but live those movie moments that you've imagined yourself into.
Head to the American Theater on King Street in Charleston. This art deco icon was made famous in the unabashedly romantic film "The Notebook." Remember that scene where Allie and Noah go on their first date to the movies, and then dance in the middle of the street? That happened right on Charleston's beloved King Street. Trying to dance in the middle of busy King Street is probably not a good idea, But twirling with your sweetheart on the sidewalk sounds perfect. You can even find the red fire hydrant in the scene, still there, to make sure you're in the exactly right spot.
Then walk down to one of the best restaurants in the Holy City: High Cotton. Settle in for a cozy dinner in the very same place that an engaged-to-another-man Allie sees Noah for the first time after many years. Feel free to swoon.
Remember that scene in the old 80s miniseries "North and South," when Billy comes galloping up an impossibly long road lined with impossibly huge trees, leaps off his horse, and runs into into the arms of Brett, his one true love?
Turns out the impossibly long road and trees are very real. They are the Avenue of the Oaks at Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant, SC. And while you cannot gallop a horse up the Avenue, you can run up it, though at three quarters of a mile long, you might be a bit winded. You could always just run the last few dozen feet and into your love's arms. That's the best part anyway.
Boone Hall was also the scene of Allie's summer home in "The Notebook," if you like your romance in the twentieth century.
"Run, Forrest, run!" That phrase was all but seared into our pop culture subconscious as Forrest Gump ran across the country more than twenty year ago. Much of the movie was shot in Beaufort, SC, one of the prettiest towns in America. That includes one of the most iconic shots of Forrest's great run across America, across a long graceful bridge spanning a sleepy, peaceful river. That bridge is right in the middle of downtown Beaufort, unmistakable and even more lovely and languid in real life.
Feel free to lace on your sneakers and run like Forrest.
Before you leave Beaufort, make the short trip to the hauntingly beautiful Hunting Island State Park. You might not be able to quite place its lush, exotic look. The park has been used in as a stand-in for Vietnam in many movies, including "Forrest Gump." It's also one of the most beautiful, pristine beaches in the country.
In the great Tom Cruise ode to NASCAR, "Days of Thunder," the inexperienced hero slingshots past the leader for his very first stock car win at Darlington Raceway. It's totally thrilling, even if you don't like racing.
And you can actually do this. Really.
All right, maybe not in an actual NASCAR race, but still, in a race car on the very track at Darlington! Race with Rusty lets qualified drivers actually experience racing around the track.
Talk about living your movie star dreams!