A travel guide to the 2011 Oscar movies

Travel guide to Oscar moviesThe 83rd annual Academy Awards are coming up in a few weeks and the Oscars race is on. This year’s nominations contained few surprises, with many nods for Brit period piece The King’s Speech, Facebook biopic The Social Network, and headtrip Inception. While 2010’s ultimate travel blockbuster Eat, Pray, Love failed to made the cut, there’s still plenty to inspire wanderlust among the Best Picture picks.

Read on for a travel guide to the best movies of 2010 and how to create your own Oscar-worthy trip.

127 HoursLocation: Danny Boyle’s nail-biter was shot on location in Utah’s Blue John Canyon near Moab and on a set in Salt Lake City. Go there: Should you want to explore Moab’s desert and canyons while keeping all limbs intact, check out Moab in fall for bike races and art festivals.

Black Swan
Location: Much of the ballet psychodrama was shot in New York City, though the performances were filmed upstate in Purchase, New York. Go there: To see the real “Swan Lake” on stage at Lincoln Center, you’ll have to hope tickets aren’t sold out for the New York City Ballet, performing this month February 11-26.

The FighterLocation: in the grand tradition of Oscar winners Good Will Hunting and The Departed, the Mark Wahlberg boxing flick was filmed in Massachusetts, in Micky Ward’s real hometown of Lowell, 30 miles north of Boston. Go there: For a map of locations in Lowell, check out this blog post and perhaps spot Micky Ward at the West End Gym.

InceptionLocation: The setting of this film depends on what dream level you’re in. The locations list includes Los Angeles, England, Paris, Japan, even Morocco. Go there: There are plenty of real locations to visit, including University College London and Tangier’s Grand Souk. Canada’s Fortress Mountain Resort where the snow scenes were shot is currently closed, but you can ski nearby in Banff.

The Kids Are All Right
Location: Director Lisa Cholodenko is a big fan of southern California, she also filmed the 2002 Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles. Go there: Love it or hate it, L.A. is still a top travel destination in the US and perhaps this year you can combine with a trip to Vegas, if the X Train gets moving.

The King’s SpeechLocation: A prince and a commoner in the wedding of the century. Sound familiar? This historical drama was shot in and around London, though stand-ins were used for Buckingham Palace’s interiors. Go there: It might be hard to recreate the vintage look of the film, but London is full of atmospheric and historic architecture and palaces to visit. If you’re a sucker for English period films or places Colin Firth has graced, tour company P & P Tours can show you around many historic movie locations like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

The Social NetworkLocation: Another Massachusetts and California movie, this very academic film shot at many college and prep school campuses, but none of them Harvard, which hasn’t allowed film crews in decades. Go there: If you enjoyed the Winklevoss rowing scene, head to England this summer for the Henley Royal Regatta June 29 – July 3.

Toy Story 3 – Location: The latest in the Pixar animated trilogy is set at the Sunnyside Daycare. Go there: Reviews are mixed, but Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a new Pixar parade, to let fans see their favorite characters in “person.” Visit any Disney gift shop to make your own toy story.

True Grit – Location: The Coen brothers western remake may be set in 19th century Arkansas, but it was filmed in modern day Santa Fe, New Mexico and Texas, taking over much of towns like Granger. Go there: If you’re a film purist or big John Wayne fan, you can tour the locations of the original film in Ouray County, Colorado.

Winter’s Bone – Location: Many moviegoers hadn’t heard of this film when nominations were announced, set and shot in the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri. Go there: The difficult film centers around the effects of methamphetamine on a rural family, but travel destinations don’t get much more wholesome than Branson, Missouri. Bring the family for riverboat shows and the best bathroom in the country.

[Photo by Flickr user Lisa Norman]

Mystic Caverns for sale on eBay

Looking to invest in some real estate while interest rates are low? How about your own cave?

Steve Rush, owner of Mystic Caverns in northern Arkansas, is looking to unload this tourist attraction. He’s put the set of two caves, which draw approximately 15,000 visitors per year, up for sale on eBay. He’s asking just shy of $900,000 for what he calls a business investment.

Rush has been hosting visitors to Mystic Cave and Crystal Dome since 1992, but attendance has trailed off since a nearby amusement park closed in the late 90’s, and Rush wants to devote more of his own time to Christian ministry. He says the buyer of the caverns should have a flair for entertainment, as visitors want more than just information.

The caverns are tourist-ready, with rock walkways, lighting, and a gift shop all included in your purchase. So far, nearly 20,000 visitors have viewed the listing, but it’s still up for grabs as of this post. How many times do you get the opportunity to buy your own caverns? What would you do with Mystic Caverns if you could buy it?

Photo of the Day (10/24/07)

Here’s a fall color shot that reminds me of a Monet painting. This shot was taken this past Monday by redow in the Missouri Ozarks along the spring branch of Alley Spring. It looks like the part of the country where my mom is from in Southeastern Kentucky.

**If you’d like for your photo to be chosen as a Photo of the Day, post it on Gadling’s Photo Pool on Flickr.**

Exploring the Ozarks – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Jesus Christ of the Ozarks
Making the time to write this piece on Eureka Springs has been no easy task. I’ve been trying to get it off my plate since June 6th – a few days after hanging around the Arkansas town located in the Ozarks, but never got a chance until now. Tanya, one of the walkers on the tour, had proclaimed herself the Ambassador of Fun for the day and I decided to roll with a few others in the group to get in on all this fun. Unusual considering I often enjoyed spending my spare time alone and away from the other walkers, but she promised Eureka Springs to be something of an exciting adventure. I couldn’t pass it up. I needed to see it with my own two.

The ride up to the mountain area was curvy and a bit narrow for my comfort zone. We were high up there and going higher. Once things leveled out a little I opened my eyes and found a cute town before me. Streets lined with shops and summertime local tourists picking up trinkets wandered around. We parked next to the trolley station and got tickets for the next ride further up into this jewel in the Ozarks.

From the trolley ride I could tell one day was not going to be enough time to see everything the town was made of, but I gathered these observations. If you’re wanting to escape somewhere amazing and away from the rest of the world in the U.S. Arkansas and the Ozarks is the place to go. Hidden from practically everything you can check in to a cozy B&B like 5ojo Inn located at 5 Ojo Street or the famous Crescent Hotel & Spa. Expect to feel both pampered and at home. Cabins and cottages are also available for those who want to be closer to outdoor recreational activities like fishing (they have one of the biggest trout populations around). To plan your escape I suggest checking out the Eureka Springs website for further detail on bookings, rates, and attractions.

As far as my day went it was fun, relaxing and the highlight for me was seeing the Christ of the Ozarks Statue (above) where they also host the Great Passion Play. Don’t ask me why I got geeked up by this statue. Oh, and Tanya is not available as an Ambassador of Fun, you’ll need to find one of your own.