9 Famous Filming Locations You Can Host an Event at in Real Life

August 7, 2019

The demand for unique event venues is on the rise. Taking your attendees beyond the typical meeting room to a space that’s historical or famous can give them an unmatched sense of place and blow up on their social media feeds.

For film fans, there is perhaps no greater treat than standing on the sets of some of Hollywood’s most famous movies.

In fact, many directors set scenes in real-life locations that you can visit on your own time. Even better, this group of famous filming locations—from The Shining and Iron Man to Shawshank Redemption—are available for private rentals for meetings and events.

Read on to see how you can give your attendees the chance to step into the shoes of some of cinema’s most recognizable characters at these nine venues.

1. Hollywood Roosevelt, Catch Me if You Can

The Hollywood Roosevelt hotel has been the playground of famed film icons like Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe since 1927. The hotel’s history has inspired directors to set their movies within the hotel’s storybook backdrop, according to Shant Apelian, director of corporate communications at L.A. Tourism.

In Catch Me If You Can, the hotel stands in for the Tropicana Motel, where Leonardo DiCaprio’s conman character Frank Abagnale is nearly caught by FBI agents.

The hotel has also appeared in Almost Famous and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.

The hotel recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation, restoring the Spanish colonial-style building to its original vintage Hollywood grandeur.

The hotel has more than 25,000 square feet of event space, including:

  • The Blossom Ballroom: This space was the host for the first Academy Awards in 1929 and features 25-foot-tall LED light ceilings, nearly 4,500 square feet of space, custom chandeliers, vintage tiles and original ceiling details.
  • 13 meeting and banquet rooms that can accommodate parties of 10 to 1,500
  • Rooftop and Tropicana Pool

2. Walt Disney Concert Hall, Iron Man

The iconic Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Master Chorale, but has also starred in many big-time movies, most notably in Marvel’s Iron Man. Tony Stark attends a charity event there, where he meets Shield’s Phil Coulson and dances with his romantic interest, Pepper Potts.

Ferrari Event at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Filming Location of Iron Man
Ferrari Event at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Filming Location of Iron Man

Its sweeping staircases and impressive architectural detail were fit for fictional A-lister Tony Stark, and L.A. Tourism’s Apelian says a private event at the Walt Disney Concert Hall is just as regal of an atmosphere for attendees. Some of its spaces include:

  • The Founders Room, which accommodates a seated group of 150 with a view of downtown Los Angeles.
  • The entire concert hall can also be rented, with a capacity up to 2,252.

Apelian noted that outdoor spaces can also be used at the concert hall upon request.

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Other recent movies filmed here include Get Smart, Her and The Soloist.

3. Natural History Museum, Pretty Woman

The third largest national history museum in the U.S. can be found in Exposition Park in Los Angeles. The museum’s ornate Grand Foyer, located just past the main entrance, is one of the property’s most well-known spots, according to L.A. Tourism’s Apelian, thanks to the fighting Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops skeletons that are displayed there.

Natural History Museum, African Mammal Hall, Filming Location for Pretty Woman
Natural History Museum, African Mammal Hall, Filming Location for Pretty Woman

The same Grand Foyer masked as the War Memorial Opera House in the 1990 classic Pretty Woman, starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.

“In the movie, Edward Lewis [Richard Gere] flies Vivian Ward [Julia Roberts] to San Francisco to catch a showing of La Traviata,” Apelian said. “While filming was supposed to take place in the City by the Bay, the Loma Prieta earthquake rendered that impossible.

“Instead, the Natural History Museum was utilized,” he continued.

“In the scene, Vivian—wearing her iconic red dress—and Edward enter the main doors of the museum before heading right and walking upstairs,” Apelian added. “Had the camera panned just slightly farther to the right in the shot, the famed ‘Dueling Dinos’ would have been visible.”

In this exact filming location of Pretty Woman, event planners can rent out the whole space for private events. Guests of up to 200 can mingle cocktail-style and up to 100 can be accommodated for banquets.

4. Ohio State Reformatory, The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption is the most highly rated movie of all time on IMDb (the internet movie database), and groups can tour its most famous scenes at the filming location, The Ohio State Reformatory.

Ohio State Reformatory, Filming Location for The Shawshank Redemption
Ohio State Reformatory, Filming Location for The Shawshank Redemption

On a private group tour, you can sit in a chair across the table in the Parole Board room where Red was denied, and eventually granted, parole; see the “hole” where main character Andy Dufresne spent solitary confinement; and even gaze through the sewage tunnel through which he (spoiler alert!) crawled to his freedom.

The movie utilized all sorts of spaces throughout the former Ohio Penitentiary, and now, groups can use the prison-turned-museum for private events.

The Gothic columns and spooky history make it a unique space for offsite fundraisers, conferences and corporate events. Available rentals include:

  • The Central Guard Room: Groups of up to 200 can meet in the same room where The Shawshank Redemption cafeteria scenes were filmed. The adjoining East Diagonal room can expand the total capacity to 400.
  • The Warden’s Dining Room: For smaller groups of up to 15.
  • The Reformatory Lawn: The outdoor space is flexible and can be requested for events.

Groups can also walk through the Corrections Museum, featuring relics from Ohio prison history like shanks and shivs found on the property and the stained-glass windows rescued from the chapel at the former Ohio Penitentiary building.

5. Timberline Lodge, The Shining

In the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s thriller The Shining, aerial shots and exteriors of the terrifying Overlook Hotel were filmed at Timberline Lodge in Mt. Hood, Oregon.

“One of Timberline’s snowcats is featured in the movie as well, with one of our own guys driving it,” said the lodge’s marketing spokesperson, Emily Stoller Smith. “Apparently, the snowcat was also shipped to the production set in England for filming.”

Timberline Lodge, Filming Location for The Shining
Timberline Lodge, Filming Location for The Shining

Though the interiors were mostly shot on constructed sets in England, Smith says that Timberline Lodge may have had a say in room 237’s role in the film.

“There are different theories concerning the use of room 237 in the movie, when it was room 217 in the book,” she said. “I’ve been told that the president of Timberline Lodge at the time of filming, Richard L. Kohnstamm, asked that the room number be changed because Timberline Lodge does not have a room 237. He didn’t want guests to be scared of staying in room 217.”

Attendees can see for themselves if any part of Timberline Lodge really is haunted when meeting in its many spaces, most of which have impressive views of Mt. Hood.

Highlights include:

  • Ullman Hall: Ideal for banquets and receptions of up to 275 people.
  • Mt. Jefferson Room: Providing elevated views of the lodge’s surroundings, this room is ideal for modestly sized meetings of 100 or fewer.
  • Mt. Hood Room: With windows facing the base of the mountain, corporate groups of 80 to 150 will learn with an inspiring view.

6. Mountain Lake Lodge, Dirty Dancing

1987’s Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray, was an instant hit at the time of its release. Its fame remains with one of its dance moves, “The Lift,” a mainstay in popular culture. The iconic scene, among others, was filmed at event-friendly Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke, Virginia.

Mountain Lake Lodge, Filming Location for Dirty Dancing
Mountain Lake Lodge, Filming Location for Dirty Dancing

“The Gazebo is where the first dance lessons take place in the movie, our lake is where ‘The Lift’ was preformed, and The Virginia Cottage is where Baby and the Housemans stayed in the movie,” said Mountain Lake Lodge’s director of marketing, Meg Simpson.

The lodge is extremely group friendly, complete with an onsite conference center and corporate retreat and team-building programs.

Among its many flexible meeting spaces, planners can reserve the Gazebo Lawn featured in the film for up to 200 people (dancing optional).

7. First Avenue, Purple Rain

Minnesota-local-turned-superstar Prince made this downtown Minneapolis concert venue famous when he featured it in his 1984 film Purple Rain. In the film, Prince plays the frontman of a band called The Revolution and spends his time rehearsing and performing at First Avenue. The story concludes with the performance of the song with the same name, Purple Rain, at the venue, which went on to become one of the artist’s most famous songs.

First Avenue, Filming Location for Purple Rain, Credit: Sam Wagner, Shutterstock
First Avenue, Filming Location for Purple Rain, Credit: Sam Wagner, Shutterstock

Lines down the blocks surrounding First Avenue persisted for about a week after Prince’s death in 2016, and a gold star with his name is painted on the side of the building, surrounded by silver stars of past performers at the venue.

Though largely used for music concerts and dance events, the whole club can be rented for large private events.

8. Hatley Castle, X-Men movies

Hatley Castle, just outside of downtown Victoria, has worn many hats since its construction in 1908 for James Dunsmuir, the lieutenant governor of British Columbia. In 1940 it was used as a naval college until 1994, when it was converted into the Royal Roads University.

Hatley Castle, Filming Location for the X-Men Series
Hatley Castle, Filming Location for the X-Men Series

The university remains its current occupation, with the castle standing as the centerpiece of Hatley Park National Historic Site overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Since 1996, it’s been best-known as another school, however, used as the filming location for Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in the X-Men series.

Planners can utilize many spaces within the castle for private events:

  • The Drawing Room can seat up to 100 guests for dinner and has an adjoining terrace that can up its capacity to 250.
  • The first-floor dining and lounge rooms can also be requested for rental.
  • The castles surrounding gardens can accommodate groups of up to 300, reception-style.

The castle is still no stranger to movies and TV, appearing in shows like Arrow and Smallville, and other movies, like Deadpool.

9. Rosecliff Mansion, The Great Gatsby

Newport, Rhode Island, is famous for its lavish mansions. Perhaps the grandest of the bunch is Rosecliff Mansion, a 1902 structure built by architect Stanford White.

Rosecliff Mansion, Filming Location for The Great Gatsby
Rosecliff Mansion, Filming Location for The Great Gatsby

White modeled Rosecliff after a garden retreat of French kings at Versailles. Living up to its model, the mansion hosted extravagant parties onsite soon after, including a fairy tale dinner and a party featuring famed magician Harry Houdini.

It’s fitting, then, that Rosecliff Mansion served as the home of wealthy Jay Gatsby in the 1974 film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary classic The Great Gatsby, starring Robert Redford. Gatsby uses his home to host over-the-top, Jazz Age parties.

The mansion can host real-life parties and events, too.

Tim Walsh, director of sales for Discover Newport, says that the mansion is a frequent host of dinner events, and that attendees like it so much that one even started crying because she couldn’t believe how beautiful the space was.

Rosecliff continues to be a backdrop for movies, with appearances in 27 Dresses, True Lies and Amistad.

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About the author
Danielle LeBreck | Lead Destinations Content Strategist

Danielle started at Meetings Today in March 2019 after seven years of editorial experience in the travel and food industries. She oversees all of the destination content for Meetings Today and collaborates with the team on digital content strategy and content marketing initiatives.