Silver Screen Cities: How Movies Boosted Tourism

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Movie locations aren't just pretty backdrops on a screen. You can visit a lot of the spots that provided the scenery for some of our most beloved – or reviled – films.

Here are five of our top picks. If you'd like to plot more points on your cinematic trip -- especially if you're starting in Los Angeles -- pick up "Hollywood Escapes" by Harry Medved and Bruce Akiyama, which is stuffed with movie locations you can visit within an hour's drive of Tinseltown.

Place: Forks, Washington | Movie: "Twilight"
Forks Washington

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This region of Washington State has seen such a tourism boom from the "Twilight" films that the local chamber of commerce started their own Forks Twilight website mapping out the sights fans crave. Even though most of the "Twilight" movies were filmed in Oregon, Forks has still become a Twi-hard destination.

Must do: Take the Twilight Tour. For $39, you'll see all the Vampire goodness (or badness?) that Forks has to offer.

Place: Cleveland, Ohio | Movie: "A Christmas Story"
Cleveland Ohio

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"A Christmas Story" is a classic. Who can forget the Red Rider BB Gun, the leg lamp or the tongue stuck to a pole? The movie has given a tourism bounce to Cleveland, where it was filmed. The Christmas Story home is in the neighborhood of Tremont, and has been restored and opened to visitors.

Must Do: Visit the house, of course, but also make sure to go to the "A Christmas Story" House Museum, which is located across the street.

Place: Philadelphia | Movie: Rocky
Philadelphia Pennsylvania Rocky

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For anyone facing a challenge, Rocky bounding up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is the perfect inspiration. Go at almost any time of the year, any time of the day, and you'll see copycats running to the top of the stairs, which offers a stunning view of the city.

Must Do: Even if you aren't up to running, make sure to get your picture taken in front of the Rocky statue at the foot of the stairs. Or pick up a copy of "Rocky Stories", which tells the stories of why people have traveled thousands of miles just to run those steps.

Place: Estes Park, Colorado | Movie: "The Shining"
Estes Park Colorado

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You might not want to exactly reenact the horror movie "The Shining," but you can experience the creep of the Stanley Hotel. Stephen King stayed at this Estes Park hotel and used it as inspiration for the book that became the movie. Even though the movie wasn't actually filmed there, the Stanley Hotel has become a tourism hot spot for horror fans and those who believe the dead live among us.

Must Do: Take the Stanley Hotel's historic ghost tour, where you'll learn about the history of the hotel and its connections to "The Shining." For only $15 a pop, it's worth the visit – if you dare.

Place: Las Vegas | Movie: "The Hangover"
Las Vegas Nevada

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Las Vegas is no stranger to tourist or movies ("Ocean's 11," "Swingers" and "Diamonds are Forever" are just a few that have been set there), but "The Hangover" brought the "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas" slogan to a new cinematic level. The Las Vegas tourism folks even told me that requests for the mega suite at Caesar's Palace that was used in the film – you know, where they wake up with a chicken and a tiger – have shot up.

Must Do: We could tell you, but as the saying goes...

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