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8/16/2010 Atlanta Journal Constitution: Southeastern vacation spots featured in films

By Brooke Rawlins

Hollywood may be the first location to come to mind when one thinks of filming locations, but there are many towns dotted along the Southeast that are just hours from Atlanta that have been the setting of timeless and cult classic movies.

"Caddyshack," "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls," "Dear John" and the all-time favorite "Dirty Dancing" are just a few that were filmed in Southeastern towns. If you're planning a vacation and aren't sure of the destination, then consider walking where Patrick Swayze danced at Mountain Lake Hotel in Virginia or where Chevy Chase made us laugh in Florida.

Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale may be known the most for being a tourist town, chock-full of fun-in-the-sun adventures, including pristine beaches and the infamous Everglades. But the large city in South Florida is also known for being the filming location for the 1960 film "Where the Boys Are."

When stars George Hamilton and Connie Francis came to town to shoot the teen drama about the adventures of college kids who hit the beach for spring break, Fort Lauderdale's beaches and city life were featured, showing viewers the beauty and appeal of the city.

"Where the Boys Are" isn't the only movie filmed in Fort Lauderdale. The 1980 comedy "Caddyshack," starring Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield, also was filmed in the area.

Don't miss

Flamingo Gardens and Wildlife Sanctuary

Bird watchers and nature enthusiasts will appreciate the Flamingo Gardens and Wildlife Sanctuary in Fort Lauderdale. The gardens include 60 acres of rare, native and tropical plants, an array of natural habitats, an arboretum and even an alligator lagoon. There is also a 25,000-square-foot Everglades free-flight aviary, which houses a large collection of wading American birds, including flamingos. This family-friendly destination gives visitors the opportunity to stroll and peruse the gardens, all while seeing nature in action. General admission is $17 people 12 and older, $8.50 for 4- to 11-year-olds and free for children 3 and under. 3750 S. Flamingo Road, Davie. 954-473-2955, Ext. 127, for groups;

John U. Lloyd Beach State Park

Visiting the beaches in Fort Lauderdale should be one of the first things a tourist does when visiting the area. The John U. Lloyd Beach State Park has sandy beaches and sparkling ocean waters that give visitors their much-needed relaxation and rejuvenation, but the state park also offers canoeing, kayaking, scuba diving, boating and hiking adventures. Bird watching, wildlife viewing and photographing nature can also be done at the park. Admission to the park is $6 for two to eight people per vehicle. 6503 N. Ocean Drive, Dania Beach. 954-923-2833,

The Riverwalk

If shopping, dining and enjoying the nightlife are what interest you, then the Riverwalk offers it all. Nicknamed "Florida's Most Beautiful Mile," the paved Riverwalk takes walkers along palm trees, tropical views and a wide array of shops, eateries and even the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society Museum and the Museum of Discovery and Science. It's free to stroll along the Riverwalk. Southwest Second Street, Fort Lauderdale. 954-428-4477, 954-468-1541,

Getting to Fort Lauderdale:

It takes about 11 hours to drive from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale. From Atlanta, take I-75 South for about 370 miles, then take Florida's Turnpike for about 200 miles. Finally, take I-95 South for another 60 miles.

Where to eat:

Capt. Shrimp. Fried oysters, calamari and shrimp are just a few items on the menu of this casual eatery. $5.99-11.99. 1550 North State Road 7, Lauderhill. 954-327-1880,

Where to stay:

The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale. The five-star hotel offers a special "Where the Boys Are" vacation package (expires Sept.30), which includes an oceanfront stay, a water taxi pass for two and two signature cocktails upon arrival. This hotel is a short drive to the Grande Oaks Golf Club, the set location of "Caddyshack." The "Where the Boys Are" package is $249 per night. Regular rates are $179-$999 through September. 1 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. 954-465-2300,

Tourist info:

Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, 1-800-227-8669,

Edisto Island, S.C.

If you've seen the 2010 romantic film "Dear John," starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, then you probably noticed the beautiful sand dunes, beaches and charm of Edisto Island, S.C., the set location of the film.

Edisto Island, which is also where the slapstick, laugh-out-loud comedy "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" was filmed in the 1990s, is a small noncommercial town south of Charleston with a population of around 3,500. Although the island doesn't have a big-city feel like some tourist towns, it does have a lot to offer travelers.

Don't miss

Adventure sports

Aside from the beach and ocean, there are creeks and marshes galore at Edisto Island. Step out of your comfort zone, and rent a kayak or canoe at one of the many outfitter companies on the island. Or rent a bike and explore the roads of the island. Take an offshore or inshore fishing trip, with the guidance of a charter company in the area. If sightseeing, bird watching or photography sounds interesting, then visit the nearby Edisto Beach State Park. Simply lounging on the beach with a good book in hand could also be on your vacation agenda. Rental, charter or outfitter companies can be found at the Edisto Chamber of Commerce's website. Prices vary depending on the company. 430 S.C. 174. 843-869-3867,

The Plantation Course at Edisto

Teeing up and playing a round of golf at the renovated Plantation Course at Edisto is at the top of the to-do list for many island tourists. The 6,175-yard course offers a challenging experience for golfers at every skill level. Aside from the course being up to par, there are lagoons that border many of the fairways. After playing the 18 rounds of golf, visit the clubhouse, or grab a bite to eat at the course's Plantation Grill and Grovers Seafood Bar. $59 for 18 holes. Dress code enforced. 19 Fairway Drive, Edisto Beach. 843-869-1111,

Getting to Edisto Island:

It takes about six hours to drive from Atlanta to Edisto Island. From Atlanta, take I-75 South toward Savannah, and then I-16 East toward Jim L Gillis Highway/Savannah. After 157 miles, take I-95 North, and finally, S.C. 64 East.

Where to eat:

Whaley's. Voted one of Coastal Living Magazine's "Top 10 Favorite Seafood Dives," this laid-back restaurant serves the ever-popular shrimp on cheesy grits, along with a wide variety of seafood and cocktails. $7.75-$21.75. 2801 Myrtle St., Edisto Beach. 843-869-2161,

Where to stay:

Southerly Bed and Breakfast. This Southern-style B&B, located just outside of Edisto Island, is about 20 minutes away from nearby golf courses and Edisto Beach State Park. $85-$120. 7760 Little Britton Road, Yonges Island. 843-889-5842,

Tourist info:

Edisto Chamber of Commerce. 843-869-3867,

Pembroke, Va.

The coming-of-age love story between Baby and Johnny Castle makes "Dirty Dancing" one of the most memorable films of the 1980s.

Filmed in small-town Pembroke, Va., at the town's Mountain Lake Resort, the movie became a box office hit and inspired women all over the world to put on their dancing shoes. Many people visit the town each year -- not solely because of the film, but to take in the serene mountain air, the adventurous activities and the nearby Appalachian Trail.

Don't miss

Mountain Lake Conservancy

Pembroke, located within reach of the Appalachian Trail, is chock-full of mountain adventure, as well as magnificent views of wildlife and nature. Visit the Mountain Lake Conservancy, and hike along 20 miles of trails, or take photographs in the wetland area. The conservancy, named by the state as a "Virginia Green" location, strives to protect the thousands of acres of the Mountain Lake Resort, the destination where "Dirty Dancing" was filmed. Admission is free, but it costs $3 per day for parking. 115 Hotel Circle, Pembroke. 540-626-7121,

Andrew Johnston House Museum

For history buffs, the Andrew Johnston House Museum in Pearisburg, located minutes from Pembroke, may be an interesting excursion while on vacation. The Andrew Johnston house, built in 1829, is the oldest brick house in the county. During the Civil War, then Col. Rutherford B. Hayes and then Maj. William McKinley commanded that their Union Army regimen set up camp in Johnston's house. When the Confederate troops invaded the town, the location marked the spot of the Battle of Pearisburg. This house, which is now a museum, can be toured, and visitors can visit the nearby cemetery, where soldiers who lost their lives in that battle are buried. Admission is free. 208 N. Main St., Pearisburg. 540-921-1050,

Getting to Pembroke:

Pembroke is about 400 miles northeast of Atlanta. From Atlanta, take I-85 North for about 230 miles, then take I-77 North to Pembroke.

Where to stay:

Mountain Lake Conservancy and Hotel. Located on 2,600 acres of mountaintop property, this hotel was the filming location of "Dirty Dancing." Hiking and biking trails are nearby, and guests can swim or boat on the nearby lake. This hotel is opened only from May to November annually. $149.99-$920. 115 Hotel Circle, Pembroke. 540-626-7121,

Where to eat:

Mountain Lake Restaurant. Located at the hotel, this casual restaurant offers guests breakfast, lunch and dinner, with prime rib, steak and a Sunday brunch being among the popular menu items. $10-$30. 115 Hotel Circle, Pembroke. 540-626-7121,

Tourist info:

Giles County Chamber of Commerce. 540-921-5000,

  Edisto Chamber of Commerce
42 Station Court
P.O. Box 206
Edisto Island, SC 29438


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