Incredible Destinations Featured in This Year's Oscar-Nominated Films
Incredible Destinations Featured in This Year's Oscar-Nominated Films

One of the many reasons we love the movies is because they take us to places — both real and imaginary. From Paris to other planets, Oklahoma to Oz, filmmakers bring diverse places to life, filming around the world, constructing elaborate soundstages or, more recently, creating them almost entirely from CGI. And oftentimes, movies make us want to experience these destinations for ourselves. Here are five of our favorite destinations from films nominated for the Best Picture category of the 2024 Academy Awards.

Seoul, South Korea - Past Lives

Namsan Tower and pavilion during the autumn leaves in Seoul, South Korea.
Credit: ONRUECHA WASAN/ Shutterstock

Childhood friends reunite in Past Lives, which chronicles the reunion of schoolmates who were separated when the girl, Na Young, is relocated to Canada by her parents. The film features beautiful flashbacks of Seoul, South Korea’s economic and cultural capital. In this dynamic metropolis, visitors can find futuristic skyscrapers towering above grand palaces and ancient pagodas.

For the best view, take the cable car up to Namsan Seoul Tower. Towering 774 feet, the communications and sightseeing structure is the second-highest point in the city and offers a spectacular panorama. Changdeokgung Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the country’s most significant cultural sites. In addition to the well-preserved 15th-century palace, don’t miss the glorious "secret gardens" which were off-limits to anyone not invited by the king. Trend-loving tourists will want to spend time in the fashionable Gangnam district, while cosmetics fans will head straight to the shops located in Myeongdong. In Insadong, narrow passageways are lined with historic teahouses along with galleries, restaurants and boutiques.

New Mexico, U.S. - Oppenheimer

Aerial of White Sands Missile Range.
Credit: John A Davis/ Shutterstock

The Manhattan Project catapulted the world into the Atomic Age and ended World War II in the mid-1940s. The project which was headed up by physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who serves as the focus of the 2023 film "Oppenheimer" starring Cillian Murphy. Director Christopher Nolan received permission to shoot Oppenheimer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the atomic bomb was developed, and at White Sands Missile Range, where the first prototype was detonated on July 16, 1945. Some interior scenes were filmed at Los Alamos, but the majority of the New Mexico settings were recreated at Ghost Ranch, a 21,000-acre retreat that was once the home of painter Georgia O’Keeffe.

Both Los Alamos and White Sands are still active federal government sites. At Los Alamos, visitors must be on a guided tour of the historic buildings, which is offered three times a year. Civilian visitors to White Sands must pass a federal background check. Ghost Ranch is privately owned, and offers day passes and tours, as well as overnight accommodations.

Palm Springs, California, U.S. - Barbie

Mid-century modern home and palm trees in Palm Springs.
Credit: Stephanie Braconnier/ Shutterstock

Much of the action in the summer blockbuster Barbie takes place in the imaginary Barbieland, but the inspiration for that perpetually pink and sunny paradise is pure Palm Springs, according to director Greta Gerwig. The film fantasyland’s architecture is especially influenced by the Kaufmann Desert House, which stands as one of the country’s most iconic residences.

That home is privately owned, but you can take a peek through the gates at the driveway while visiting Palm Springs or on a MCM & Martinis architecture tour which also checks out other significant homes. Palm Springs has long been a convenient hideaway for Hollywood celebrities, and stars including Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley have owned homes in the desert hamlet.

Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. - The Holdovers and American Fiction

Courtyard and buildings at Harvard University.
Credit: Marco Rubino/ Shutterstock

Barton Academy, the posh setting for The Holdovers, isn’t a real boarding school, but the fictional New England academy is actually an amalgamation of five. “Here's the deal,” director Alexander Payne told Town & Country. “The fictional Barton Academy of the movie is constructed from five different schools: Groton, Northfield Mount Hermon, Deerfield, St. Mark's, and a very beautiful public high school called Fairhaven in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. One has the good cafeteria, one has the good gymnasium, one has the good hallways, one has the good exterior, and one has the good chapel. That's how it's done.”

For a perfectly preppy campus that’s open to the public, look no further than Harvard University’s Cambridge campus, just three miles from downtown Boston. The leafy 223-acre Harvard Yard houses the school’s most historic buildings, including Massachusetts Hall, which was built in 1720. Free, student-led tours of Harvard Yard are available, and there are numerous other tours showcasing the university’s natural and cultural highlights.

Another Best Picture nominee, American Fiction, also makes Boston its home, with scenes shot in Sand Hills and Peggotty beaches, the Fort Point neighborhood, Harvard Street, and in West Roxbury.  

New York, New York, U.S. - Maestro

Lincoln Center at dawn, David Geffen Hall.
Credit: Kenneth Grant/ Alamy Stock Photo

Bradley Cooper directed himself (and co-star Carey Mulligan) in Maestro, the love story of legendary conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein and his wife, Felicia Montealegre. Bernstein became the first American-born conductor to lead a major American symphony orchestra when he was tapped to lead the New York Philharmonic in 1943.

The Philharmonic performs at the David Geffen Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on Manhattan's Upper West Side. If you can't catch a performance, guided tours are available during the day. Bernstein also wrote the music for the smash Broadway play-turned-movie West Side Story. Visitors to New York City can learn more about this iconic musical at the newly opened Museum of Broadway.

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