New Jersey Movies: Starring the Garden State
New Jersey has played a supporting role in hundreds of movies, so fans of nearly every film genre can scout familiar locations while exploring the Garden State.
At the north end of the state, start at Ramapo Mountain State Forest, which might look familiar due to its appearance in the blockbuster hit "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." This wooded area was the filming location for the opening scenes when Katniss Everdeen was experiencing flashbacks of hunting in the woods with Gale. Go for a hike and imagine what it must be like to participate in The Hunger Games.
Nearby, stop by Closter Plaza, a shopping area that served as a filming location in Leonardo DiCaprio's "The Wolf Of Wall Street." This plaza at 71 Vervalen Street (Closter) is where Brad and Donnie get into a public altercation with a suitcase full of cash, and Brad ends up getting arrested.
Then, continue your journey to South Orange, the main setting of the romantic comedy "Garden State." Explore the small downtown and then admire the truly excellent Victorian architecture on Ridgewood and Wyoming streets, between South Orange and Maplewood. If you need exercise after your drive, hike the South Mountain Preserve and enjoy spectacular Manhattan views. If you crave food instead, try Lorena's in Maplewood for a fine meal or nearby Arturo's for a simple one.
"Chasing Amy," a romantic comedy set around Red Bank, explores a love triangle among comic book artists. After watching the movie, walk the Red Bank waterfront and the turn onto Broad Street where you'll see many film locations and many interesting shops. If the tour makes you hungry, drive just out of town to what might be the state's best restaurant, Nicholas. Or stay on Broad Street for a well-reviewed but less expensive meal at the BYO Dish.
A major portion of the 1982 musical "Annie" was filmed at historic Wilson Hall on the Monmouth University campus in West Long Branch.The structure is a centerpiece building at the university. "The Station Agent," a little-seen gem about a loner who inherits a disused railway station, takes place amidst the rolling hills and green forests in the rural areas north and west of Paterson. The charming little station lies on Green Pond Road, just south of Rt. 23 in Newfoundland. But the real charm lies in the many nearby parks and reservoirs. Try hiking Buck Mountain or Splitrock Reservoir and Farney State Park.
"A Beautiful Mind" and "IQ" both highlight Princeton University's campus. Watch them both and take your own tour, noting not only the stately old buildings but also the varied contemporary structures. Newly built Whitman College looks a century old. Frank Gehry's Lewis Library looks like it comes from the future.
The 1998 thriller "Fallen" shows off a wild New Jersey region unique in the world, the Pinelands. See the movie, read "The Pine Barrens" by John McPhee and then take a tour. After you're done, grab a bite in Atlantic City. Photographs at the White House Sub Shop recall countless stars who've eaten there, including George Clooney, when he was filming Ocean's 11.