The Best Movie Filmed In Every U.S. State
Check out which film made the list from your home state!
Having a beloved movie filmed in your state can mean a tourism boost that lasts for generations. While many films have been made on controlled, indoor studio sets in California, the ones that are shot on location often have more character.
Thanks to tax breaks offered to filmmakers by many states, escaping the confines of Hollywood has become even more common in recent years. In fact, every state in the U.S. has hosted movie shoots.
Here, we’ve rounded up what we deem the best movie filmed in every state. Let us know what you think of our picks!
Alabama — ‘Selma’ (2014)
Director Ava DuVernay’s powerful look at the march Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led across Alabama in 1965 in the name of civil rights progress shows the systemic racism that was common across America at that time.
“Selma” was filmed in Alabama and Georgia, including at the iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where police brutalized the marchers. “Selma” was a hit with audiences and critics, winning an Oscar and holding down a 99-percent score at Rotten Tomatoes.
Alaska — ‘Into the Wild’ (2007)
There have been some great movies that did just a scene or two of filming in Alaska, including “The Thing” and “Insomnia,” but Sean Penn’s Oscar-nominated “Into the Wild” uses the real backdrop of Alaska for many of its scenes.
Based on the book by Jon Krakauer, this film tells the true story of Christopher McCandless, who traveled across North America and spent time living in the Alaska wilderness after graduating college in the early ’90s. The Alaska portions of the movie were filmed on-location in Cantwell, Alaska, which is near where the real McCandless spent the final days of his life.
Arizona — ‘The Searchers’ (1956)
John Wayne had one of the best careers in Hollywood history, and “The Searchers” is arguably the best movie he ever starred in.
Nearly all of this epic John Ford-directed classic was filmed in Arizona’s beautiful Monument Valley. Wayne stars as a Civil War veteran who tries to find his niece after she’s taken by Comanches. The film was noted for its grim tone and its dark depiction of the old West — two things that pretty much every modern Western would later borrow. “The Searchers” holds a rare 100-percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Arkansas — ‘Sling Blade’ (1996)
Billy Bob Thornton is a proud Arkansas native, and when he wrote, directed and starred in this gritty drama, he filmed the whole thing in his home state. The movie is about a man with a mental disability who comes back home and tries to get on with his life after doing time in an institution for killing his mother when he was a child. It won Thornton an Oscar for his screenplay and made him a star.
California — ‘Back to the Future’ (1985)
Well, this is a tough one. Basically every great movie you can think of was filmed in California, but our pick for the best is this timeless piece of Hollywood magic. It’s hard to find a movie that everyone agrees is awesome, but “Back to the Future” might be it.
This iconic ’80s film follows a California teen who tests a time-traveling DeLorean for his scientist friend and gets stuck in the 1950s, where he must ensure that his parents fall in love. The whole thing was filmed in the Golden State. We could have picked “Citizen Kane” or “The Wizard of Oz,” but those classics have had their time in the sun.
Colorado — ‘Badlands’ (1974)
This grim movie has long been hailed as a masterpiece. Although it’s set in South Dakota and Montana, the entire thing was filmed in Colorado.
“Badlands” follows a young man and his teenage girlfriend as they go on a killing spree. The film helped make Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek stars and launched the acclaimed career of writer/director Terrence Malick. Roger Ebert, like many critics, gave “Badlands” a perfect rating, and included it in his revered all-time list of “Great Movies.”
Connecticut — ‘Revolutionary Road’ (2008)
Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio’s less well-known collaboration was set in 1950s Connecticut and was filmed almost entirely in the state.
Winslet and DiCaprio play a married couple trying to keep their family together despite personal problems in their seemingly idyllic suburban lives. “Revolutionary Road” was nominated for three Oscars and was noted for its intense performances, especially from co-star Michael Shannon.
Delaware — ‘Dead Poets Society’ (1989)
Not many films have been made in Delaware, but this beloved Robin Williams gem was.
“Dead Poets Society” is set inside a New England all-boys school and follows an English teacher who works to inspire his apathetic students. Nearly the entire film was shot at St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware, which was called Welton Academy in the movie. Other Delaware locations that show up in “Dead Poets Society” are Beaver Valley Cave and the town of New Castle.
Florida — ‘The Truman Show’ (1998)
It’s hard to pass up “Caddyshack” as the greatest Florida-filmed flick, but “The Truman Show” edges it because pretty much the entire thing was filmed in the Sunshine State.
This underrated Jim Carrey classic follows a man who suddenly finds out his entire life has been staged and broadcast 24/7 for TV viewers around the world since the day of his birth. The town where Truman resides in the film is actually the resort town of Seaside, Florida. The filmmakers shot in that small town for five months and residents described it as “a circus.” “The Truman Show” was nominated for three Oscars and holds a 94-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Georgia — ‘Black Panther’ (2018)
Nearly all of Marvel’s box-office smash “Black Panther” was filmed in Georgia, as several of the studio’s most recent movies have been. The state’s Pinewood Atlanta Studios was used for much of the movie’s production. Other locations from around the state include a museum in Ansley Park, which stood in for a museum in London, and apartments in Sweet Auburn that stood in for the streets of Oakland in the opening scenes.
Hawaii — ‘Jurassic Park’ (1993)
Steven Spielberg’s thrilling blockbuster was filmed almost entirely in Hawaii. The island of Kauai stood in for the fictional Isla Nublar (off the non-fictional coast of Costa Rica), where dinosaurs ran amok at the titular amusement park. Tourists can visit many of the iconic outdoor filming locations from “Jurassic Park,” including the waterfall the main characters pass by in a helicopter.
Idaho — ‘Pale Rider’ (1985)
It was a toss up between this one and “Napoleon Dynamite,” but, in the end, Clint Eastwood’s Western wins the crown for Idaho’s Best Movie. This enigmatic film was shot mostly in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in central Idaho, which director/star Eastwood found to be perfect for an old-West tale. “Pale Rider” holds a 92-percent score from Rotten Tomatoes and is recognized as one of the great modern Westerns.
Illinois — ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008)
A bunch of great movies have been filmed in Illinois, including virtually all of the John Hughes classics, but “The Dark Knight” wins the crown as the state’s best picture. This unforgettable Batman movie stands as one of the few sequels to outrank its predecessor and is still one of the highest-grossing movies ever made. Chicago stood in for Gotham City, with many real locations from the city prominently shown. The classic scene where the semi truck does a front flip was shot on South LaSalle Street — and the stunt was real, not CGI.
Indiana — ‘Breaking Away’ (1979)
You might expect a basketball movie to top the list of best Indiana-filmed movies, but this charming coming-of-age tale about cycling takes the crown.
“Breaking Away” was made entirely in the Hoosier State, which is not something you can say about many films. This Oscar-winning film is about a young man in Bloomington, Indiana, with a passion for Italian bike racing that doesn’t exactly fit his blue-collar father’s vision for his son. “Breaking Away” features plenty of real locations from Bloomington that you can still visit.
Iowa — ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ (1995)
Another Clint Eastwood-directed film makes this list. The Hollywood icon also starred in this romantic movie alongside Meryl Streep. “The Bridges of Madison County” is set in the actual Madison County, Iowa, and the film was shot entirely in the Hawkeye State. It follows an affair between a photographer and a housewife, and how the relationship affects their lives. “The Bridges of Madison County” is one of Eastwood’s highest-grossing movies ever and it holds a 90-percent score from Rotten Tomatoes.
Kansas — ‘Paper Moon’ (1973)
Not many movies have been shot on location in Kansas, but 1973’s “Paper Moon” stands tall as the state’s best cinematic export. It stars the real-life father-daughter duo of Ryan O’Neal and Tatum O’Neal as a pair of con artists during the Great Depression.
The beautiful black-and-white photography was shot in several Kansas locations, most notably across the central part of the state, in Ellis and Rush counties. Tatum O’Neal was only 10 years old when she won an Oscar for her performance in the movie, making her the youngest winner ever.
Kentucky — ‘Stripes’ (1981)
One of Bill Murray’s funniest movies was shot mostly in Kentucky. “Stripes” was about a pair of bored buddies who join the Army, and Murray’s character ends up leading a group of misfit soldiers.
The filming locations included the city of Louisville and Fort Knox, while the climactic scenes that were set in Czechoslovakia were actually shot at an old Jim Beam distillery. The bourbon makers let the filmmakers crash a tank through some old warehouses that were no longer in use.
Louisiana — ’12 Years a Slave’ (2013)
This devastating drama won three Oscars, including best picture, and was filmed entirely in Louisiana, where most of the action is set.
The film follows the true story of a free black man named Solomon Northup who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the 1840s. British-born director Steve McQueen used plenty of real locations across Louisiana, including several in New Orleans, to make the film as true to Northup’s story as possible. Even the scenes that are set in New York and Washington were actually shot in Louisiana.
Maine — ‘In the Bedroom’ (2001)
Several of author Stephen King’s movie adaptations have been shot in his beloved home state of Maine, but the best film to be made in the state is this 2001 indie darling. It is set entirely in Maine and examines the consequences of a relationship between a young man and an older woman in a small town.
“In the Bedroom” was shot in several locations across the state, including the cities of Camden, Rockland and Rockport. It was nominated for five Oscars, including for the performances of stars Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson and Marisa Tomei.
Maryland — ‘The Blair Witch Project’ (1999)
If you ask horror nuts about movies made in Maryland, they’ll probably all bring up this 1999 classic, which made the state’s wilderness look like the most terrifying place on Earth.
“The Blair Witch Project” reinvented scary movies, raking in millions on top of a shoestring budget and making viewers think they were actually watching a documentary about some student filmmakers who get lost in the woods while looking for the legendary Blair Witch of Burkittsville, Maryland. The state’s Seneca Creek State Park acted as the fictional Black Hills Forest, where the most terrifying moments of “The Blair Witch Project” play out.
Massachusetts — ‘Jaws’ (1975)
Massachusetts has been home to some of the best crime movies in recent memory, including “The Departed,” “Mystic River” and “Gone Baby Gone,” but its this immortal movie about a killer shark that is the state’s greatest contribution to cinema.
“Jaws” was set on the fictional resort location of Amity Island, which was actually Martha’s Vineyard. Director Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking blockbuster was filmed all around Martha’s Vineyard, including in Edgartown and Menemsha. If you want to see where the iconic opening scene was filmed, where an unfortunate skinny dipper takes her last swim, drive out to South Beach in Edgartown.
Michigan — ‘Anatomy of a Murder’ (1959)
One of Jimmy Stewart’s grittiest performances came in this 1959 courtroom drama, which was shot entirely in Michigan. The Hollywood icon plays a scatterbrained lawyer who takes on the case of a surly soldier who murdered a man after the victim allegedly raped his wife.
It wasn’t the streets of Detroit that were used in “Anatomy of a Murder,” though. Instead the movie was filmed along the state’s Upper Peninsula, in towns like Ishpeming and Marquette. The film currently holds a rare 100-percent score at Rotten Tomatoes and is noted for its great performances and detailed mystery.
Minnesota — ‘Fargo’ (1996)
This quirky cult classic takes its name from the city in North Dakota, but much of it was filmed in Minnesota, where a lot of the plot actually takes place. “Fargo” is about a small-town sheriff who finds herself investigating a tangled mess of organized crime, kidnapping and a gruesome killing involving a wood chipper.
Frances McDormand won an Oscar for her charming and tough performance as that police chief, and “Fargo” would also win an Oscar for its screenplay from the Coen Brothers, who became in-demand filmmakers as a result.
Mississippi — ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ (2000)
Speaking of the Coen Brothers, their bizarre, Southern-set take on Homer’s “The Odyssey” is the best movie to be filmed in Mississippi. George Clooney stars as the leader of a trio of prisoners in the 1940s who escape and aim to return home while trying to avoid capture.
“O Brother, Where Art Thou?” was shot almost entirely in central Mississippi and makes the state’s scenery look gorgeous as a backdrop to this wild story. Sadly, the radio station where the Soggy Bottom Boys sing their first song in the film was just a set built for the film, but it stood in Valley Park, Mississippi.
Missouri — ‘Gone Girl’ (2014)
This dark, twisted thriller was based on the best-selling book by Missouri native Gillian Flynn and was shot almost entirely in the Show-Me State.
“Gone Girl” follows an intelligent couple’s crumbling marriage, leading to the mysterious disappearance of the wife. The story is set in the fictional town of North Carthage, Missouri, which was actually the charming town of Cape Girardeau. A closed-down restaurant was redesigned as The Bar, the place owned by Ben Affleck’s character, and the building’s owner decided to re-open it under that name after filming was complete.
Montana — ‘A River Runs Through It’ (1992)
Of course, the beautiful state of Montana would be home to a gorgeous movie that focuses on the peace that can be found in nature. Robert Redford directed this one, which starred a young Brad Pitt as the rebellious son of a pastor who has a talent for fly fishing.
The plot is set in Montana and nearly all the action was filmed there, including many fishing scenes on the Yellowstone River. The scenic cinematography of the state’s landscapes won “A River Runs Through It” an Oscar. The movie led to a sharp uptick in both Montana tourism and the popularity of fly fishing.
Nebraska — ‘Election’ (1999)
One of the funniest movies of the ’90s is also the best movie to be filmed in Nebraska. Writer/director Alexander Payne has filmed nearly all of his acclaimed movies in his native Nebraska, but “Election” takes the crown because of its wit and the earnest performances of stars Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick.
The story follows a high school teacher and his deep loathing of an overachieving student who desperately wants to be elected class president. The fictional George Washington Carver High was actually the real-life Papillon-La Vista High School located outside Omaha.
Nevada — ‘Casino’ (1995)
It’s not exactly a flattering examination of Nevada’s desert gambling mecca, but “Casino” is a great movie full of iconic Las Vegas imagery. The movie takes an epic look at the mob-controlled corruption inside a Las Vegas casino in the 1970s and ’80s and stars Robert De Niro as the man in charge and Joe Pesci as his loose-cannon friend and enforcer. You can still visit many of the locations that were used for filming, including restaurants and bars, but many of them have had facelifts since 1995.
New Hampshire — ‘On Golden Pond’ (1981)
This touching movie about repairing family relationships was filmed entirely in New Hampshire. The action takes place at an idyllic New England place called Golden Pond, which is actually Squam Lake near the White Mountain National Forest. “On Golden Pond” was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won three, including Oscars for its legendary lead actors Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn.
New Jersey — ‘On the Waterfront’ (1954)
Powerful and explosive, New Jersey’s best cinematic export — since we aren’t counting TV’s “The Sopranos” — is undoubtedly 1954’s Oscar-winning “On the Waterfront.”
Marlon Brando flexed every dramatic muscle he had in playing a broken ex-boxer who works as a longshoreman and mob errand boy in New Jersey. The epic drama was shot entirely on location in Hoboken, including at Our Lady of Grace Church and in some dockside warehouses that are now gone. “On the Waterfront” was nominated for a ridiculous 12 Oscars and won eight, including best picture.
New Mexico — ‘The Avengers’ (2012)
When you think of New Mexico, it’s hard to not to picture “Breaking Bad,” but since we aren’t talking about TV shows, Marvel’s game-changing “The Avengers” will be our pick for the state’s best title. The box-office shattering superhero epic was filmed in several states, but the majority of the action took place in New Mexico. Albuquerque Studios hosted much of the indoor filming, and the secret S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters at the film’s opening was actually a New Mexico high school.
New York — ‘The Godfather’ (1972)
New York is another tough one because of the hundreds of great films that have been made there, but “The Godfather” tops them all. Several states — and even Italy — were used as filming locations for this American masterpiece, but most of the picture was made on-location in New York. The film follows an Italian-American family based in the Empire State and the unfortunate effects of their organized-crime connections.
The iconic wedding scene that opens this epic story was shot at a mansion on Staten Island, and the tollbooth where Sonny meets his demise was filmed at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. “The Godfather” won three Oscars, was one of the highest-grossing movies ever and continues to top lists of the best movies ever made.
North Carolina — ‘Blue Velvet’ (1986)
There is simply no movie like “Blue Velvet,” and fans of this strange classic can thank North Carolina for giving it a lovely backdrop. The film follows a wide-eyed, small-town boy who gets pulled into a dark mystery full of sex and mayhem after finding a severed human ear in a field. “Blue Velvet” was shot entirely in Wilmington, North Carolina, which stood in for the idyllic, fictional suburb of Lumberton.
North Dakota — ‘Jesus Camp’ (2006)
You might think choosing a documentary is cheating, but there just haven’t been many notable movies shot in North Dakota — so give us a break!
“Jesus Camp” is a hard-to-watch film about an evangelical Christian camp for kids in Devils Lake, North Dakota. The movie was heavily praised and was nominated for an Oscar. The shocking revelations in “Jesus Camp” led the camp to close for good.
Ohio — ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ (1994)
This beloved classic takes place in New England but was filmed entirely in Ohio (aside from that final sunny scene). “The Shawshank Redemption” follows the friendship of two inmates at the fictional Shawshank State Penitentiary in the 1940s and ’50s. The prison used in the movie was the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. Mansfield’s tourism department has taken full advantage, offering visitors a trip on the Shawshank Trail, which visits filming locations from the movie.
Oklahoma — ‘The Outsiders’ (1983)
It’s far from a perfect movie, but “The Outsiders” offers a great look at Oklahoma and features one of the most eye-popping casts of young talent ever put together. It was filmed entirely in Tulsa, where the action of this story of teen angst takes place. The cast includes Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze and Diane Lane, all in early performances.
Oregon — ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1975)
It was really tough not to pick “Animal House” as Oregon’s top movie, but “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is about as perfect as a film gets. This heartbreaking story about a charismatic criminal who fakes his way into a mental hospital and goes head to head with a tough-as-nails nurse won five Oscars, including best picture. It was entirely filmed in Oregon, with the hospital scenes shot inside the Oregon State Mental Hospital in Salem. The memorable scene where the patients take a fishing trip was shot at Depoe Bay near Newport, Oregon.
Pennsylvania — ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968)
Another creepy movie, “The Sixth Sense” makes a strong case for Pennsylvania’s best movie, but “Night of the Living Dead” deserves the crown. This horror icon basically invented the zombie movie and perfected its formula, making it one of the most influential movies ever made. The low-budget movie was shot entirely in director George A. Romero’s native Pittsburgh. The Evans City Cemetery remains a must-see site for lovers of the film.
Rhode Island — ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ (2012)
We counted “Moonrise Kingdom” among our picks for the best rom-coms ever made — and we’ll also call it the best film to be shot in Rhode Island. This whimsical story about a pair of adolescents who run away together into the wilderness of a New England island was shot mainly around Rhode Island’s Conanicut Island and Jamestown village.
South Carolina — ‘Forrest Gump’ (1994)
The iconic bench scenes were filmed in Georgia, but much of the beloved “Forrest Gump” was actually shot in South Carolina. The city of Beaufort provided most locations and stood in for Forrest Gump’s fictional hometown of Greenbow, Alabama. One fact that will probably make fans sad is that the boarding house owned by Gump’s wise mama was just a fake house built for the film. It was torn down when production was complete.
South Dakota — ‘Dances With Wolves’ (1990)
This Western epic is the cinematic claim to fame of South Dakota. Director and star Kevin Costner chose to film nearly the entire movie on-location in Stanley County. The story follows a Civil War soldier who befriends Native Americans. “Dances With Wolves” was nominated for 12 Oscars and won seven, including best picture. The beautiful countryside of South Dakota can be seen in nearly every shot of the film.
Tennessee — ‘The Green Mile’ (1999)
This strange prison epic manages to be uplifting and grim at the same time. While the prison in which most of the plot takes place is supposed to be in Louisiana, it was actually filmed inside West Nashville’s Tennessee State Penitentiary. The scary-looking old prison has been closed for decades but can still be seen from the outside. You should probably be glad you aren’t allowed to step inside and walk the Green Mile for yourself.
Texas — ‘The Last Picture Show’ (1971)
There have been many great movies shot in Texas — “Paris, Texas” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” just to name a couple — but this coming-of-age classic stands tallest. Shot in beautiful but stark black and white, “The Last Picture Show” tells the story of teens in 1951 who are growing up in a small Texas town that’s quickly dying. The tiny town of Archer City, Texas, was used as the fictional town of Anarene. The movie maintains a stunning 100-percent score from Rotten Tomatoes and helped launch the careers of Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepard and Randy Quaid.
Utah — ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ (1969)
Many great Westerns were at least partially shot in Utah over the years, but “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” beats them all. The majority of this ’60s icon was shot in Utah, especially inside Zion National Park. This film helped launch the career of Robert Redford and further established Paul Newman as arguably the most charming actor in Hollywood history. One moment Utah cannot claim, however, is the iconic jump into the river canyon, which was filmed in Colorado.
Vermont — ‘Beetlejuice’ (1988)
Equal parts fun and bizarre, director Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice” is a fun part of recent Vermont history. All the exterior shots of the charming town that is the plot’s setting were filmed in East Corinth, Vermont. The story is about a couple who dies and must haunt their old house as ghosts while waiting for a spot to open up in heaven. Sadly, the house itself was just a facade built in the town for shooting, with all interior scenes filmed in a Hollywood studio.
Virginia — ‘Lincoln’ (2012)
Steven Spielberg’s third movie to make this list of state’s bests is his historical flick about Abraham Lincoln, shot on-location around Virginia. Historical locations around the Richmond area dominated the shooting locations, including the Virginia State Capitol, while Petersburg also provided some locations. “Lincoln” earned Daniel Day-Lewis an Oscar, one of two the movie won.
Washington — ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ (1993)
This romantic classic was filmed across several states but, obviously, Seattle provided some memorable scenery. Tom Hanks’ character, a single father and widower, lives in a houseboat on Lake Union, which has a gorgeous view in some of the nighttime shots. Seattle’s Pike Place Market also hosts a memorable scene where Rob Reiner gives Hanks some advice on modern dating.
West Virginia — ‘Super 8’ (2011)
When director J.J. Abrams was looking for the backdrop of his nostalgic sci-fi thriller in 2011, he thought Weirton, West Virginia was perfect. Set in the 1970s, “Super 8” is about a group of kids who witness a train crash in their small town, leading to strange events. Abrams and his crew spent about a month shooting all around Weirton, using locals as extras.
“When I saw pictures of Weirton, it was so beautiful,” Abrams said after finishing the film. “The whole setting was just perfect.”
Wisconsin — ‘Major League’ (1989)
This classic baseball comedy is all about the struggling Cleveland Indians, but most of it was shot in Wisconsin. Milwaukee County Stadium, home of the MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers at the time, had to fill in for Cleveland’s stadium because the costs of making a movie in Ohio were too high. Other Wisconsin cities, like Franklin and Glendale, also filled in for Cleveland in several scenes.
Wyoming — ‘Shane’ (1953)
This classic Western about an aging gunfighter who tries, unsuccessfully, to settle down and give up his past was shot across Teton County’s beautiful countryside. Jackson Hole and the Teton range are just a couple of the scenic places used to help tell the story, which was set in Wyoming. Today, “Shane” remains one of the most celebrated Westerns ever made, holding down a 97-percent score at Rotten Tomatoes.