It’s no wonder so many filmmakers have chosen to make movies in Texas. The Lone Star State is filled with tall tales, both real and fictional Old West heroes, breathtaking scenery and a landscape that can change from ocean to desert in a single drive. Below are 10 Texas filming locations you can visit today.
10. Blanco: True Grit (2010)
The courthouse scene in the Coen Brothers remake of the 1969 western, in which Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) stands trial for killing a man, was filmed on the top floor of the Old Blanco Courthouse in the small Hill Country town of Blanco.
9. Austin: Boyhood
Boyhood made headlines before its release because of director Richard Linklater’s unique filming style. Linklater filmed the movie over the course of 12 years, capturing the natural aging of the characters in the coming-of-age story. But Texans had another reason to love the movie: the entirety of the film is set in Texas. Austinites immediately recognized the bowling alley where Mason, Sr. (Ethan Hawke) bonds with his kids as their beloved Dart Bowl.
Other Boyhood Texas filming locations include Austin’s Continental Club, Pedernales Falls State Park and Houston’s Minute Maid Park.
8. Marfa: Giant
The west Texas ranching town of Marfa is now a hot spot for artists and tourists alike, but in 1955 the only talk of the town was the Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean-lead film Giant. The remnants of the huge ranch house on the fictional Reata ranch are still standing, but just barely. It’s a little tough to get up close as the remains of the building are located on private property, but the ruins of Elizabeth and Rock’s Texas mansion look just as majestic against a west Texas sunset when gazed at from a distance.
7. Luck, Texas (a.k.a. Spicewood): Red Headed Stranger
The set for 1987’s Red Headed Stranger, starring the Red Headed Stranger himself, is still largely in tact. Willie loved the set so much he kept the land for himself, naming the makeshift Wild West town Luck, Texas. The set is located in Spicewood, about 40 minutes outside of Austin. Each year during Austin’s SXSW Willie opens up the ranch to the public for the daylong Luck Banquet music festival.
6. Manor: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?
The water tower that a young Leonardo DiCaprio climbs in this quirky early ’90s film is obviously pretty easy to find. It’s located in the small town of Manor, Texas.
5. Pilot Point: Bonnie and Clyde
Visit the bank Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty held up in the 1967 film. Just don’t steal anything.
4. Archer City: The Last Picture Show
The 1971 film The Last Picture Show based on the Larry McMurtry novel of the same name traces the lives of teenagers living in a desolate north Texas town in the 1950s. Fittingly, the movie was filmed in McMurtry’s hometown of Archer City. You can still visit the Royal Theater that Sonny and Duane frequent in the movie.
3. Smithville: Hope Floats
Many small Texas towns have hosted movie sets, but few are as proud as Smithville is of “Hope Floats.” A “Smithville: Home of Hope Floats” billboard greets visitors as they enter the central Texas town. The picturesque McCollum-Chapman Trousdale house, where Sandra Bullock stays while reconnecting with her hometown, is located at 201 E. Eighth and Olive Street. A sign for Honey’s Diner, a fictional restaurant where Bullock and love-interest Harry Connick, Jr. dine in the film, is still visible on a brick building in the heart of downtown Smithville.
2. Austin: Dazed and Confused
It’s the movie that gave us Matthew McConaughey and “Alright, alright, alright.” Pay tribute to Wooderson and the crew (and get the stellar Longhorn Special burger) at Austin’s Top Notch.
1. Kingsland: Texas Chainsaw Massacre
It’s understandable if you’re a little apprehensive about visiting the place where Leatherface and his cannibalistic family resided but the iconic horror house has now been transformed into the quaint Grand Central Cafe restaurant. Enjoy a delicious chicken fried steak with no sign of chainsaws in sight.