By Briana Seftel
Summer is a time for lazy beach days, barbecues and blockbuster movies that are light on drama and heavy on fun. Of course, any great summer blockbuster has an equally fantastic setting to match, whether its the desert planet Tatooine or the lush, remote island of Isla Nublar.
Whether you're planning your next vacation or just want a quick escape from your desk, here are a handful of real-life filming locations from your favorite blockbusters!
Filming location: Martha's Vineyard
Directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the bestselling novel of the same name, Jaws is widely considered the original summer blockbuster. Set on a fictional New England resort town, the film was mostly shot on Martha's Vineyard, an island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. A favorite of New Englanders and the Obamas, the Vineyard's middle class surroundings at the time served as the perfect backdrop for a giant man-eating shark. While you're on the island, head to the American Legion Memorial Bridge, known affectionately as Jaws Bridge.
Jurassic Park (1993)
Filming location: Hawaii
Based on Michael Crichton's sci fi novel about genetically engineered dinosaurs, Jurassic Park kept viewers on the edge of their seat when it was released in 1993. Set on the fictional island of Isla Nublar located near Costa Rica, Jurassic Park instead filmed in Hawaii. Filming began on the lush island of Kauai before moving to Oahu and finally to Mauai. Fans of the film can visit actual sites like the Na Pali Coast, Limahuli Garden, Kualoa Ranch and Hoopii Falls.
Star Wars (1977)
Filming location: Tunisia
Head to a galaxy far, far away...or at least North Africa. The sparse, arid landscape of southern Tunisia proved to be the ideal setting for the desert planet of Tatooine in the first Star Wars film directed by George Lucas. Over the course of two and a half weeks, filming took place at the salt flat of Chott el Djerid, the oasis cities of Nefta and Tozeur, and Hotel Sidi Driss in Matmata (which still welcomes visitors to this day). Used as the setting for Luke Skywalker's home, the hotel is an example of traditional Berber architecture found throughout Tunisia.
Fun fact: Tatooine is actually based on the real Tunisian town of Tataouine.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Filming location: Savannah, Georgia
Who could forget the iconic image of Forrest Gump sitting on a bench in Savannah, pondering the meaning of life? To visit the spot, you'll make your way to Chippewa Square in the heart of beautiful Savannah. While the exact location of the bench was solely used for the film, the romantic square with its dripping oak trees and fountain remains unchanged. To see and sit on the actual bench, head to the Savannah History Museum.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Filming location: St. Vincent
The first film in the wildly successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise made a star out of Johnny Depp, but also took moviegoers on a wild journey into the past. While set on Port Royal, Jamaica and the island of Tortuga, the film was primarily shot on the quiet island of St. Vincent, part of the Windward Islands in the south Caribbean. There, the crew built life-sized recreations and employed hundreds of locals as cast members.
Harry Potter series (2001 - 2011)
Filming location: England
While penning her hugely successful Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling was inspired by many real-life places like Livraria Lello in Portugal and the city of Edinburgh. However, when it came to translating the books onto the big screen, much of the filming took place in England. While fans can take the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London and visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida, many of the real filming locations can also be visited. A few standout locations include Goathland railway station (which served as the Hogwarts Express stop), Alnwick Castle, and King's Cross Station in London, site of the famous Platform 9 3/4.
Filming location: Dunkirk, France
Christopher Nolan's Oscar-nominated epic war film stayed true to its roots by filming in the same place of the actual Dunkirk evacuation in the summer of 1940. A small coastal town in northern France, Dunkirk found itself in the middle of one of the biggest evacuations in military history. Nolan filmed most of the battle on the actual beach in Dunkirk, while some scenes were shot in nearby Malo-les-Bains because most of the buildings in Dunkirk were destroyed in the war. WWI and WWII buffs will find plenty of other important historical sites in France like the American Cemetery and Omaha Beach.
You Only Live Twice (1967)
Filming location: Japan
Sean Connery's last outing as James Bond (although he would later return in Diamonds Are Forever and Never Say Never Again), You Only Live Twice follows 007 investigating a rogue spacecraft in Japan. Filming took place at Himeji Castle, which served as the Ninja training school, Hotel New Otani in Tokyo and the villages of Ebino and Akime. True adventurers will want to head to Kirishima National Park, site of Blofeld's remote hideout.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Filming location: Namibia
The fourth installment and a reboot of the franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road saw a total reinvention of the dystopian thriller, from the elaborate costumes to the adrenaline-pumping action. Filmmakers ultimately chose Namibia, a desert country in southern Africa, as the setting. Filming primarily took place in the city of Swakopmund and an area east of the city known as the Moon Landscape.
Wonder Woman (2017)
Filming location: Italy
After searching for the perfect location to portray the Amazon island of Themyscira, filmmakers decided upon Italy. With its bright blue-green water, rugged cliffs and low tide, the Amalfi Coast was deemed the ideal setting for the birthplace of Wonder Woman. Fans of the film can head to the Terrace of Infinity overlooking the sea at Villa Cimbrone and the small town of Palinuro. Additional scenes were filmed in the ancient town of Matera in Puglia and Castel del Monte, a 13th-century citadel where Wonder Woman takes her sword.