A ensemble of famous Sci-Fi characters.

Explore the Magic and Mystery: Ultimate East Coast Road Trip to Sci-Fi and Fantasy Film Locations

Are you a fan of sci-fi and fantasy movies? Have you ever dreamed of stepping into the worlds of your favorite cinematic universes? 

Pack your bags and fuel up your car, because we’re taking you on the ultimate East Coast road trip to some of the most iconic sci-fi and fantasy film locations in the USA! 

From the alien landscapes of War of the Worlds to the wizarding wonders of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, this journey offers unforgettable experiences for every film buff and adventure seeker.

Why This Road Trip?

Imagine walking through the very spots where your favorite movie heroes and villains clashed, conversed, and conquered. This road trip isn’t just a travel itinerary—it’s a portal to the realms of your favorite stories.

Each stop is steeped in cinematic history, offering a behind-the-scenes look at the magic of movie-making and the allure of iconic film locations.

How to Use This Guide

The first section lists film scenes and a basic itinerary to take you up the East Coast. Feel free to skip some stops, stay longer at others, or add your own. Design your perfect road trip!

Once you know where you’re going, the next section is a guide to themed restaurants at each stop on our list. If you add your own stops, you can always Google themed sci-fi or fantasy restaurants in that area to add to the list.

Finally, the last section includes some fun places to stay. Happy trails!

Day-by-Day Guide to the Ultimate Sci-Fi and Fantasy Road Trip

Prepare to trace the cinematic steps of some of your favorite films. This detailed guide not only directs you to iconic filming locations but also describes the memorable scenes that brought these settings to life.

Contact (1997)
Contact (1997)

Day 1: Launch Your Adventure at Cape Canaveral

Start your journey at the heart of space exploration, Cape Canaveral, where scenes from Contact (1997) brought the cosmos to life. Stay in a space-themed vacation home to immerse yourself fully in the galactic vibe.

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Directions: From downtown Orlando, take FL-528 E for approximately 45 miles. Follow signs for NASA Pkwy W to reach the Kennedy Space Center.

Scene Description: This site is where Ellie Arroway, played by Jodie Foster, first hears the alien signal, marking a pivotal moment in this exploration of life beyond Earth.

Tomorrowland entrance at Disney.
Tomorrowland entrance at Disney.

Day 2-3: Magical Realms in Orlando

Dive into the world of Tomorrowland at Universal Studios in Orlando. Spend a full day enjoying rides and attractions, making sure to sip some Butterbeer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Location: Downtown Orlando

Directions: Within Orlando, use I-4 and FL-408 to navigate downtown. Specific scenes were filmed around Lake Eola Park, which can be accessed via E. Central Blvd.

Scene Description: Scenes depicting the innovative and futuristic city of Tomorrowland were shot here, showcasing Orlando’s modern architectural elements.

Swan House from The Hunger Games films.
Swan House from The Hunger Games films.

Day 4: Atlanta’s Cinematic Scenes

Next, hit the road to Atlanta, where the dystopian districts of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the thrilling antics of Ant-Man were filmed. 

Location: Atlanta History Center for Catching Fire, various downtown spots for Ant-Man

Directions: To reach the Atlanta History Center, take GA-400 to exit 2, follow Wieuca Rd and Paces Ferry Rd to your destination. Downtown locations can be accessed via I-75/I-85; use Peachtree Street for scenes from Ant-Man.

Scene Description: The Atlanta History Center’s Swan House was transformed into President Snow’s mansion for the party scenes in Catching Fire. Downtown Atlanta was featured in Ant-Man as the backdrop during thrilling chase scenes.

Tribute Parade from The Hunger Games, filmed in Charlotte NC.
Tribute Parade from The Hunger Games, filmed in Charlotte NC.

Day 5: Action in Charlotte

Relive the intense arena battles from The Hunger Games in Charlotte, NC, a.k.a. District 12.

Location: Uptown and surrounding wilderness areas

Directions: Uptown Charlotte is accessible via I-77. For wilderness scenes, travel north toward Lake Norman or the Uwharrie National Forest southeast of the city using US-49.

Scene Description: Charlotte’s dense forests and urban areas represented the District 12 and Capitol settings, including the fiery arena sequences.

Grace Community Lutheran Church in War of the Worlds.
Grace Community Lutheran Church in War of the Worlds.

Day 6: Aliens in Richmond

Next, drive to Richmond to witness the haunting locales from War of the Worlds.

Location: Metropolitan areas and rural outskirts

Directions: Use I-95 to navigate through Richmond. Rural scenes can be accessed by driving east toward Williamsburg on I-64.

Scene Description: Richmond’s eerily quiet suburbs and desolate fields were used for dramatic scenes of the alien invasion and human struggle for survival.

D.C. cityscape.
D.C. cityscape.

Day 7: D.C.’s Futuristic Filming Sites

Explore the futuristic settings of Minority Report in Washington, D.C..

Location: Various locations including the National Mall

Directions: In D.C., most locations are accessible via I-395. Parking can be found downtown, with walking access to National Mall and surrounding areas.

Scene Description: Washington, D.C.’s futuristic cityscapes served as the primary setting for this dystopian thriller, where PreCrime police foresee and stop crimes before they happen.

The Matrix reloaded.
The Matrix reloaded.

Day 8: Step into the Matrix in Baltimore

Experience the cyberpunk atmosphere of The Matrix Reloaded in Baltimore.

Location: Inner Harbor and industrial districts

Directions: Use I-95 N to enter Baltimore. For Inner Harbor, exit on 53 and follow signs. Industrial scenes are best accessed via the I-95 S corridor.

Scene Description: Baltimore’s industrial zones doubled as locations within The Matrix, where Neo battles agents and machines in his quest to understand the depths of the virtual world.

View of Philadelphia in Unbreakable.
View of Philadelphia in Unbreakable.

Day 9: Philadelphia’s Heroic Backdrop

Philadelphia offers a deep dive into the gritty, real-world superhero landscape of Unbreakable

Location: Various city locations

Directions: In Philadelphia, use I-95 for access to most city parts, including the historic district and downtown where key scenes were filmed.

Scene Description: The stark, moody streets of Philadelphia perfectly complemented the film’s exploration of human fragility and strength, setting the stage for David Dunn’s realization of his superhuman abilities.

Filming location for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Filming location for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Day 10: Jersey City’s Mystical Side

Train to be a wizard for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Jersey City. 

Location: Downtown Jersey City

Directions: Take I-78 E, exit on Columbus Drive, and head towards downtown. Many urban scenes were shot around Grove Street.

Scene Description: The bustling streets of Jersey City transformed into the backdrop for mystical battles and the training ground for the film’s apprentice sorcerer.

Battle of NYC in The Avengers.
Battle of NYC in The Avengers.

Day 11-12: Marvel at the Final Act in New York

Your cinematic journey peaks in New York City, where Doctor Strange and Ghostbusters turned familiar streets into scenes of fantastical and paranormal activity. (Bring your own portals.)

Dr. Strange Location: Greenwich Village, specifically around Bleeker Street

Directions: In NYC, take the subway to West 4th Street Station, then explore on foot around Greenwich Village and Bleeker Street.

Scene Description: The iconic Sanctum Sanctorum of Doctor Strange is set in Greenwich Village, where mystical portals open to various dimensions right in the heart of Manhattan.

Ghostbusters Location: Times Square and other Manhattan locations

Directions: Subway access is easiest for Times Square; take the 1, 2, or 3 lines to 42nd Street-Times Square. Walk to nearby filming sites.

Scene Description: The vibrant and chaotic Times Square was a focal point for ghostly disturbances and the action-packed confrontations of the new Ghostbusters team.

Grills Seafood and Bar in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Grills Seafood and Bar in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Restaurant Guide for Your Ultimate Sci-Fi and Fantasy Road Trip

Get a taste of adventure and local flavor with these My Geekology recommendations for unique eateries and signature dishes near each site. Enjoy your journey through these iconic film sites with delicious stops along the way to keep you fueled and ready for adventure!

Cape Canaveral, Florida: Contact (1997)

Eat at: Grills Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar, Cape Canaveral

Try: Rocket Fuel, a locally famous cocktail made with a mix of rums and tropical juices, perfect for space enthusiasts.

Directions to eatery: Just a few miles from the Kennedy Space Center, located right on the docks, you can enjoy your drink with views of the departing cruise ships.

Orlando, Florida: Tomorrowland (2015)

Eat at: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Three Broomsticks, Universal Studios

Try: Butterbeer, an iconic must-try for any fantasy fan visiting this themed restaurant.

Directions to eatery: Located within Universal Studios, accessible via the park’s internal pathways near the Harry Potter attractions.

The Varsity in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Varsity in Atlanta, Georgia.

Atlanta, Georgia: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) and Ant-Man (2015)

Eat at: The Varsity, downtown Atlanta

Try: The Frosted Orange, a creamy, dreamy drink that’s part shake and part slushie.

Directions to eatery: In the heart of downtown Atlanta, just off the I-75/I-85, a short drive from the Atlanta History Center.

Charlotte, North Carolina: The Hunger Games (2012)

Eat at: Midwood Smokehouse

Try: The Burnt Ends, known for their caramelized outer crust and tender meat.

Directions to eatery: Located in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood, a short drive from the city center.

Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C.
Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C.

Richmond, Virginia: War of the Worlds (2005)

Eat at: Mama J’s Kitchen

Try: Catfish Nuggets, perfectly seasoned and fried to a golden crisp.

Directions to eatery: Nestled in the historic Jackson Ward neighborhood, just a short drive from the downtown area.

Washington, D.C.: Minority Report (2002)

Eat at: Ben’s Chili Bowl

Try: Half-Smoke, a local delicacy that’s a smoked sausage topped with mustard, onions, and spicy homemade chili sauce.

Directions to eatery: Located on U Street, easily accessible via the U Street Metro Station on the Green and Yellow Lines.

Terminal Market in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Terminal Market in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Baltimore, Maryland: The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

Eat at: Faidley Seafood in Lexington Market

Try: Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, known for being among the best in Baltimore.

Directions to eatery: In the historic Lexington Market, central Baltimore, accessible via downtown.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Unbreakable (2000)

Eat at: Reading Terminal Market, specifically at DiNic’s

Try: Roast Pork Sandwich, topped with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe.

Directions to eatery: Located in downtown Philadelphia, just blocks from City Hall.

Mamoun's Falafel in New York City, New York.
Mamoun’s Falafel in New York City, New York.

Jersey City, New Jersey: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)

Eat at: Razza Pizza Artigianale

Try: The Jersey Margherita pizza, praised for its locally sourced ingredients and exceptional flavor.

Directions to eatery: Right in downtown Jersey City, just a few blocks from the Grove Street PATH station.

New York City, New York: Doctor Strange (2016)

Eat at: Mamoun’s Falafel

Try: Falafel Sandwich, a staple of NYC street food, loved for its flavor and affordability.

Directions to eatery: Located in Greenwich Village, just a short walk from Bleeker Street.

New York City, New York: Ghostbusters (2016)

Eat at: Joe’s Pizza

Try: A classic New York slice, known for its perfect balance of crispy crust, tangy sauce, and melty cheese.

Directions to eatery: Located near Times Square on Broadway, easily accessible by walking from the main Times Square area.

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Lodgings for Your Ultimate Sci-Fi and Fantasy Road Trip

These unique accommodations offer a special experience, adding an extra layer of immersion to your road trip experience.

Cape Canaveral, Florida

Stay at: Space-Themed Vacation Home

Unique Feature: This rental home is decked out with space decor, including wall murals of galaxies and a spaceship-themed kids’ bedroom. It immerses guests in an astronaut experience, echoing the space exploration theme of Contact.

Contact Details: Available for booking through major vacation rental platforms like Airbnb or Vrbo.

Orlando, Florida

Stay at: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Themed Rooms at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Unique Feature: These rooms are intricately themed to transport guests to the magical world of Harry Potter, complete with props and decorations from the films.

Contact Details: Universal Orlando Resorts +1 407-503-4000

The Ivey’s Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Ivey’s Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Atlanta, Georgia

Stay at: The Twelve Hotel Atlantic Station

Unique Feature: Located near film studios and often frequented by actors, this modern hotel features minimalist design with high-tech amenities, offering a subtle nod to the futuristic films shot in Atlanta.

Contact Details: Twelve Hotels +1 404-961-1212

Charlotte, North Carolina

Stay at: The Ivey’s Hotel

Unique Feature: This boutique hotel blends luxury with historical charm, providing an atmosphere that could serve as a backdrop for any fantasy or historical film narrative.

Contact Details: The Ivey’s Hotel +1 704-228-1111

Quirk Hotel in Richmond, Virginia.
Quirk Hotel in Richmond, Virginia.

Richmond, Virginia

Stay at: Quirk Hotel

Unique Feature: With its quirky, artsy design and gallery, the Quirk Hotel offers a visually stimulating experience, similar to a set from a whimsical fantasy or sci-fi film.

Contact Details: Quirk Hotel +1 804-340-6040

Washington, D.C.

Stay at: The Mansion on O Street

Unique Feature: Every room is filled with hidden doors and secret passages, providing a mysterious, explorative experience reminiscent of a fantasy adventure.

Contact Details: The Mansion on O Street +1 202-496-2020

The Lord Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Lord Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.

Baltimore, Maryland

Stay at: The Lord Baltimore Hotel

Unique Feature: Known for its historical and possibly haunted past, this hotel offers a gothic atmosphere that fans of supernatural and fantasy genres will appreciate.

Contact Details: Lord Baltimore Hotel +1 410-539-8400

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Stay at: Lokal Hotel – Old City

Unique Feature: This hotel uses “invisible service” to create a high-tech, futuristic feel where guests can feel like they are part of a utopian sci-fi narrative.

Contact Details: Lokal Hotel hello@staylokal.com

The Library Hotel in New York City, New York.
The Library Hotel in New York City, New York.

Jersey City, New Jersey

Stay at: The Westin Jersey City Newport

Unique Feature: With sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and modern, sleek design, this hotel offers a setting that feels straight out of a futuristic film.

Contact Details: The Westin Jersey City Newport +1 201-626-2900

New York City, New York

Stay at: The Library Hotel

Unique Feature: Each floor is themed after a different category in the Dewey Decimal System with a wide selection of books in every room, ideal for fantasy and literature fans.

Contact Details: Library Hotel +1 212-983-4500

New York City, New York

Stay at: Staypineapple, An Artful Hotel, Midtown

Unique Feature: The hotel’s art-deco inspired design and unique pineapple-themed decor create a whimsical, fantasy-like atmosphere in the heart of the city.

Contact Details: Staypineapple +1 212-245-1100

Let’s go!

This detailed road trip immerses you in the thrilling worlds of sci-fi and fantasy, offering a closer look at the actual settings where famous movie scenes were crafted. Each location holds a piece of cinematic history, ready for you to discover on this unforgettable journey.

Perfect for families, couples, and solo travelers alike, this road trip is more than just a vacation—it’s an expedition into the heart of the films that have shaped our imaginations. Whether you’re a die-hard sci-fi fan or a lover of all things fantasy, there’s plenty to marvel at along the way.