North Carolina Grabs 'Hunger Games' Enthusiasts: Travelers Visit Movie Locations

Jane Lasky's picture

North Carolina has become a mecca for fans of The Hunger Games. And why not? Nearly the entire film was set in the western part of the state, up to and including the tree-topped mountains that were blown up.

But don't worry.

There were no real trees or land injured in this exercise where fire marshals were on the scene as faux foliage was intentionally embedded and then filled with propane to create a dramatic effect for the sake of the fierce film. (And no, don't try that at home.)

Still, most of the existing landscape seen in the blockbuster that is racking in the bucks in theaters now is intact and ready to be realized by uninitiated travelers from all over the world and who are into that make believe world that took on teen teams fighting to their death.

No worries.

Nothing resembling what happened in The Hunger Games is happening where present day sojourners roam as hordes of visitors check out the movie locations, like Henry River Mill Village which is a tiny textile town in Eastern Burke County and which sat in for District 12.

Yes, that is the where Katniss, Peeta, and Gale lived in the film, a spooky spot that saw the original mill burned down some 35 years ago. Still, about two dozen structures stay standing, including the general store. To be sure, this remote area gives an idea of what life was like for the mill workers and where the movie's fictional dwellers sharpened their archery and slingshot skills.

Meanwhile, a little more than two hours away in Charlotte, plenty of lookie loos are making their way there since this, the largest North Carolina cit, was cast as The Hunger Games' extravagant Capitol. This is the place that served as the seat of power and this is the place where the fighting teens took their training.

Another areas germane to the popular film includes DuPont State Recreational Forest near Brevard where the arena scenes were shot in a beautified environment of tumbling waterfalls and towering pines, skinny poplars and hidden lakes. Fishing streams are also part of the comely landscape, the perfect arena for hunting for Peeta and Katniss.

Meanwhile, from Craggy Pinnacle Trail, movie connoisseurs can set their sights on North Fork Reservoir where some of the real (read: bloody) action took place in today's biggest movie. Not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway, the climb is OK for moderate hikers who will see this spot at its most colorful at the end of June when rhododendrons bloom along the trail. Throughout the year in this high elevation birch forest, trees grow into twisted formations to provide an out-of-this world experience which also happens at the top as 360-degree views take in not only the North Fork Reservoir, but surrounding mountains and valleys too.

Another way to connect with Suzanne Collins' made-up dystopian world is to take the advice of the North Carolina tourist board, who offers 12 Places to Experience The Hunger Games. While nowhere for dramatic killings makes the list, places like Uptown Charlotte at the Blumenthal Performing Art's Center (where District tributes are centered and where the Capitol's uber stylish residents lurk) and Nature Research Center in Raleigh (where all visitors are privy to the real story on jabberjays and tracker jackers) do.

Also on the list provided by the Tar Heel State's tourism professionals are places where the stars of The Hunger Games relaxed during off hours, like the NoDa neighborhood in Charlotte. Also included are lively spots in downtown Asheville, like Lexington Avenue Brewery, Wasabi and the Laughing Seed. Besides these preferred hangouts by the film's thespians, the three main stars stayed at Hotel Indigo, a sustainable boutique hotel that captures urban soul with southern charm in a contemporary retreat filled with bright and bold touches.

Meanwhile, if you visit North Carolina and really want to get into the true Hunger Games spirit, there's always the Survival School at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. This institution is one that will let you will learn how to track animals, locate wild food sources which includes medicinal plants, and ways to create friction fires--all in the name of movie research.

And with that said, and possibly done, remember the North Carolina motto when you go and seek out Hunger Games locations as travelers in for an adventure as well as a rousing good time. And that motto is: Esse Quam Videri--or To Be Rather Than to Seem--which certainly makes a trip to this neck of the US woods a must for anyone who follows in the footsteps of Catniss and company. Right? Right.

Image: Looking down at downtown Asheville, North Carolina via Wikipedia Commons

Add new comment