7 Charming Towns Where Romantic Movies Were Filmed (& Where to Stay While You’re There)

Maybe it’s proof that we are what we binge. Maybe we’re trying to escape the anxiety-stricken days of pandemic life with a fantasy getaway, where there’s always a happy ending. Maybe we just really want to see what a movie backdrop is like when the cameras and trailers have been hauled away. Whatever the reason, when Airbnb released its 2021 travel forecast, some of the most popular stays jumped out at us: They were in places where famous romances were filmed.

If you’re considering a (socially distant) road trip this year—and you want to shout “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird” while running along the very same beach RyGos and Rachel McAdams did—you’re in luck. Here are some of the most charming towns where romantic movies were filmed (and where to stay while you’re there).

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best romantic towns wilmington
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1. Wilmington, Nc

Movie Filmed There: A Walk to Remember

Author Nicholas Sparks lives in New Bern, NC, and as a result, the Tar Heel State is often his preferred backdrop for his stories, including the 2002 tearjerker (starring Mandy Moore) that made him a household name. With its restaurant-laden historic district and close proximity to the Cape Fear River and surf-friendly beaches, there’s plenty to do there, beyond scope out the spots where the two high schoolers fell in love. Like check out the spots where other high schoolers fell in love (Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill were filmed there too).

Where to Stay:

best romantic movies crawfordville
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2. Crawfordville, Ga

Movie Filmed There: Sweet Home Alabama

Despite ‘Alabama’ being in the name, this rom-com was largely filmed in Georgia. Reese Witherspoon plays Melanie, a newly engaged Manhattanite who returns to her hometown to request a divorce from her ex, who refused to sign the papers. Along the way, she gains a new appreciation for him—and for her small town, which is actually Crawfordville, GA (population: < 1,000). While there, you can eat at Heavy’s Barbeque—aka Stella’s bar in the movie—and check out the Victorian architecture at the Taliafarro County Courthouse. If you’re up for a drive, check out Oak Hill, which served as Melanie’s wedding venue.

Where to Stay:

best romantic movies carmel by the sea
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3. Carmel-by-the-sea, Ca

Movie Filmed There: Malcolm & Marie

While you may not be able to stay at the Caterpillar House, where the drama between filmmaker Malcolm (John David Washington) and Marie (Zendaya) unfolds as they await critics’ reviews of his latest work, there are still plenty of reasons to visit Carmel-by-the-Sea. There are nearly 20 outdoor wine tasting venues, art galleries, plenty of shops and restaurants, and Carmel Beach, where you can surf, stroll or play fetch with Fido (dogs are allowed off-leash, provided they respond to verbal commands).

Where to Stay:

best romantic movies fort langley
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4. Fort Langley, Bc

Movie Filmed There: Just about every Hallmark Christmas movie

OK, it’d be a bit hyperbolic to say “nearly every,” but Fort Langley in British Columbia has hosted dozens of Hallmark movies. Brunner’s Village Square, a shopping complex with a quaint, historic-looking façade, has been the backdrop to 30 movies in the past 15 years, according to Canadian women’s magazine Chatelaine. The town of 3,400 features nearly all small businesses (the only chain is a Subway), and during the holiday season, Fort Langley goes all out, becoming the stuff of elves’ wildest dreams.

Where to Stay:

best romantic movies rodanthe
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5. Rodanthe, Nc

Movie Filmed There: Nights in Rodanthe

People headed to theaters to see Diane Lane and Richard Gere’s on-screen chemistry (this is their third movie together, after all)…and wound up dreaming of moving to North Carolina. Airbnb saw one of the highest increases in search year over year for the area, and within minutes of watching the movie, it’s easy to see why. The Outer Banks steals the show as the backdrop to this story of a doctor who falls for an “unhappily married woman.” Rodanthe is part of a group of villages in the Outer Banks, with miles of coastline, plenty of campgrounds and some of the best seafood around. You can stay at the actual inn from the movie (!), or visit it as part of this two-day itinerary to take in every sight from the film.

Where to Stay:

best romantic movies charleston
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6. Charleston, Sc

Movie Filmed There: The Notebook

Staying in the town from The Notebook can be a bit tricky. You see, while the novel takes place in Sparks’s hometown, the movie takes place in Seabrook, SC—but it wasn’t filmed there at all. Noah (aka Ryan Gosling) builds his house and woos Allie (Rachel McAdams) all around Charleston, SC. (Well, except for that “I’m a bird” scene, which was actually shot at El Matador Beach in California.) In the Charleston area, you can scope out Boone Family Plantation, which served as Allie’s family’s summer house, and Calhoun Mansion, where the interior scenes were filmed. You can also tour the College of Charleston, where Allie went to school.

Where to Stay:

best romantic movies forks
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7. Forks, Wa

Movie Filmed There: Twilight

The relationship between Bella, a teenager, and Edward, a 100-and-something-year-old sparkly vampire, is questionable at best. But in quarantine, it sparked a resurgence in popularity, maybe due to its escapist quality. Or the fact that author Stephenie Meyer released Midnight Sun, the story told from Edward’s perspective. Or maybe due to a combination of the two and the Hot and Bothered podcast, where the hosts break down each chapter of the series. Who knows? What we do know is that Forks was another Airbnb hotspot that’s exploded in search interest over the past year, and the town itself hosts a Forever Twilight in Forks Festival every September to celebrate the series.

If you travel outside of that time frame, you can still take in several filming locations (including seeing Bella’s trucks up close, apparently), as well as go fishing, clamming, camping or strolling along the beach.

Where to Stay:

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VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...