4 Famous River Towns From The Movies

Have you ever watched your favorite movie and wished you could relive the iconic film moments in person? In these various river towns throughout the United States, you can! These four US towns were used as film locations for popular movies including the Rocky film franchise, Grumpy Old Men, The Goonies, and Sleepless in Seattle. Today you can still visit the filming places and spaces from the movies, and enjoy the surreal feeling of being in the world of one of these entertaining movies. Some of these places even go further to memorialize these iconic films with guided tours and tour lists and festivals that commemorate the movies. Start planning your next trip to one of these iconic movie set locations!

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Photo by Visit Philly

Towns from the Movies: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Rocky Film Franchise)

Best For Guided Tours
To some, the Rocky film franchise is one of the best film series of all time. The film franchise includes the six original movies (Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, Rocky V, and Rocky Balboa) with Sylvester Stallone, and then the adjacent Creed film series (Creed, Creed II, and Creed III) with Michael B. Jordan. Luckily the sheer amount of films and screen time is a positive thing for fans, especially those who wish to explore the places they see in the films. Many of the Rocky scenes are filmed in Philadelphia, PA and the city is still a great place for fans to head out on guided tours, like The Yo, Philly! Rocky Film Tour or to explore the sights on their own. Many fans like to live out their fantasy of recreating Sylvester Stallone’s iconic jog up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. You can also see the statue that was made for Rocky III, and visit many more places that you’ve seen on the screen.

Philadelphia Trip Tips
Places to stay: Chestnut Hill Hotel, The Lokal Hotel, Places to eat: The Italian Market, Victor Cafe, Most memorable movie location: The Rocky Steps, Local tourism guide: Visit Philly

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Towns from the Movies: Wabasha, Minnesota (Grumpy Old Men)

Best For Movie Festival
The 1993 American romantic comedy film Grumpy Old Men is known for being set in Wabasha, Minnesota, even though most of the film’s scenes were actually filmed at various locations around the state. In fact, the only scene filmed in Wabasha was the picture of the Wabasha town sign and the scenic overlook of the town which was filmed in Red Wing. This hasn’t stopped the Minnesota town from commemorating the movie, though, as they hold the Grumpy Old Men Festival every year. If you visit in February, you can attend the popular festival and even participate in the Grumpy Plunge, a festival fundraising event where participants plunge into the icy Mississippi River. The festival also includes a whole day of events relating to the comical 90s hit and is an entertaining event that brings together the community in true Minnesotan fashion.

Wabasha Trip Tips
Places to stay: Anderson House Hotel, Places to eat: Herb & Arrow Kitchen, Hoppy Girl Brewing, Local tourism guide: Wabasha Kellogg

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Towns from the Movies: Astoria, Oregon (The Goonies)

Best For Family Oriented
If you’re a fan of the popular eighties kids’ adventure film, The Goonies, then you may enjoy a visit to Astoria, the charming river town that played the backdrop for the iconic film. Astoria, Oregon plays the setting of the fictitious waterfront neighborhood of The Goon Docks, and fans still flock to the town to see the neighborhood and many other places found in the film. Movie sites like The Flavel House Museum, Ecola State Park and Haystack Rock, plus the Clatsop County Jail now known as the Oregon Film Museum are open to the public and great places to see in person during your trip. Specifically, the Oregon Film Museum has an entire gallery dedicated to the film and fun interactive exhibits for fans to experience. If you visit during the summer, June 7th is Goonies Day in honor of the movie!

Astoria Trip Tips
Local places to stay: The Benjamin Young Inn, Grandview Bed & Breakfast, Places to eat: Astoria Coffee House & Bistro, Nekst Event, Most memorable movie location: Clatsop County Jail, Local tourism guide: Astoria Oregon

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Towns from the Movies: Seattle, Washington (Sleepless in Seattle)

Best For Accessible Movie Locations
Sleepless in Seattle, a popular and well loved rom-com from the early 90s is another film that is set in and features the well known city of Seattle. The film, directed by Norah Ephron, unites main characters Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) and Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) in the Washington city, and highlights many places around town that are still available to visit today. Fans who travel to Seattle can visit the Arctic Building, Peabody Conservatory of Music, Gas Works Park, and the famous Pike Place Market, all of which are scene settings from the movie. The Athenian Seafood Restaurant and Bar and the Dahila Lounge are two restaurants from Sleepless in Seattle where you can get something to eat or grab a drink during your visit. Lastly, you might not want to miss out on viewing Sam’s floating bachelor pad on Lake Union, which can be seen while sightseeing on Argosy Cruises’ Locks Cruise.

Seattle Trip Tips
Local places to stay: Inn at the Market, Places to eat: Athenian Seafood Restaurant and Bar, Dahlia Lounge, Most memorable movie location: Sam’s Home On Union Lake, Local tourism guide: Visit Seattle

Content Writer and Social Media Coordinator. I paint, listen to music, and play with my dogs a lot. When I’m not doing all that, I love to read and try new things.

Maeve Miller

Writer, River Travel Magazine