Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Movie buffs love to visit the actual places and filming locations of their favorite motion pictures. A lot of big titles are often are made in some of the most surprising places, and Arizona has contributed a fair amount of scenery to the entertainment industry. Here are some of the places that you can visit that you would definitely recognize on the big screen!
Old Tucson Studios
Out in the southern part of the Tucson Mountain range is a dusty western town that might not look like much from the outside, but holds so many iconic structures in between its walls. Old Tucson Studios has been used in so many famous films since 1940, and has been worked and walked through by some of the movie industry’s biggest celebrities such as John Wayne, Steve Martin, Val Kilmer, and Ronald Reagan. These days the studios are still functional, but visitors are invited to come and explore the town for themselves.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is not only a natural wonder, but it’s a fantastic backdrop for filming movies as well. This amazing Arizona highlight is visited by thousands of people every year for a variety of reasons, so the next time you’re watching Thelma & Louise, National Lampoon’s Vacation, or Maverick, be sure to keep an eye out for some views of the canyon!
Desert Dunes in Yuma
Even if you’re not a Star Wars geek, just about everyone knows what the desert sands on the planet Tatooine look like from the movies. George Lucas knew to go to the one state that has an excess amount of sand, which is how the dunes just outside of Yuma got to represent Luke Skywalker’s stomping grounds.
Tubac Golf Resort & Spa
Golf lovers around the world must be familiar with the hit 1996 film “Tin Cup”, and real die-hard fans can even travel to Arizona to play on the same course that Kevin Costner did in the movie. The Tubac Golf Resort & Spa is in the tiny town of Tubac which is just south of Tucson, and their Rancho #4 hole is the one that gets a lot of screen time in the film.
The University of Arizona
The University of Arizona is a big place, but it seems that the actors of the hit comedy “Revenge of the Nerds” found their way around campus just fine. Several spots at the university were key to the movie, such as the Old Main building, the grassy mall, and a couple of fraternity houses that are still standing (and in use!) to this day.
The Hoover Dam
The impressive dam on Arizona’s northern side, the Hoover Dam, is one that many movie buffs might recognize from a few works. “San Andreas” starring Vin Diesel and the 1992 film “Universal Soldiers” both had shots taken at this desert water fort.
Aside from the Grand Canyon, the ever-popular Monument Valley has got to be the second most recognizable location in the entire state. Those beautiful rock formations out in the middle of the desert compliment any western film or desert scene to the max, which is why hit films like “Forrest Gump”, “Back to the Future III”, and “How the West Was Won” chose to use this enchanting backdrop.
Pima Air and Space Museum
Patrick Dempsey played the awkward teenage who bribed a popular classmate to pretend to date him in the classic 1980’s film, “Can’t Buy Me Love”. While there were many places in the city of Tucson that are fairly recognizable in the movie, the Air and Space Museum is probably one of the most prevalent locations. The scene when Dempsey and his girl head out to the town’s famous airplane cemetery, known to locals as “The Boneyard”, is actually filmed at the museum and visitors who go there today can even see the very helicopter the teens sat in for that heartfelt scene.