Forget being "First in Flight." What's really apt to pump in some North Carolina tourism this summer is "The Hunger Games."
The full movie was shot across the state last year, tapping several different towns to accommodate the vastly ranging set looks and, as a result, the state's already prepared for an influx of tributes from across the globe. In fact, they've got a handy four-day itinerary all lined up to take the heat off making arrangements.
For those really looking to replicate the "Hunger Games" experience in North Carolina, though, there is a lot of nitty-gritty info out there as to which scenes were shot where and favorite hang-outs for the cast. So, to help guide you on your pilgrimage to the area, we gathered up all the intel on the pertinent locales.
In Charlotte, Knight Theater at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center served as the setting for Caesar Flickerman's tribute interviews with the Capitol audience, and the Charlotte Convention Center was reportedly used for filming the district tribute parade scene. The city also served as a (computer-enhanced, of course) backdrop for some of the exterior Capitol scenes, so a stroll through the downtown area might yield some familiar sights.
While filming in the city, Jennifer Lawrence rented a house in the NoDa area, an artsy district which the cast frequented during off-time (one known fave is Cabo Fish Taco). Meanwhile, director Gary Ross rented a house in Myers Park, and the rest of the gang stayed at the Ritz Carlton. Ross notoriously enjoyed the pork belly at Customshop and visited the Battery Park Book Exchange regularly.
The city's Amelie's French Bakery provided the goodies seen on-board the Capitol train and gave Woody Harrelson a spot to play chess with locals. Harrelson was also a noted fan of the U.S. National Whitewater Center's rock-climbing wall, and Lenny Kravitz frequently abandoned his normally healthy diet while in town to sup at Price's Chicken Coop. Kravitz also rented out the Bojangles Coliseum for a month to prepare for his "Black and White America" tour and performed a private concert for the cast and crew there.
In Concord (about 30 minutes northeast of Charlotte), the huge old Philip Morris Cabarrus Plant was transformed into a full-on studio for production on Capitol training scenes and others. Many of the antiques seen in the Hob scene were purchased at Concord's Depot at Gibson Mill.
The big reaping and Hob scenes were done in and around Shelby's old cotton warehouses on Lafayette Road. Two dining hot spots for the cast in town were the Pleasant City Wood Fired Grille and NiFen Bistro.
Meanwhile, the small, abandoned (but still private) Henry River Mill Village in the Town of Hildebran became District 12's Seam for the film and provided the building which would become the Mellark Bakery on-screen. The area has been blocked off from visitation — though it is up for sale — and "Hunger Games" fans are encouraged to check out the town's museum instead of the run-down shacks.
Just outside of Asheville, North Carolina, the cast filmed exterior arena scenes in the DuPont National Forest — specifically the Hooker Falls, Triple Falls and Bridal Veil Falls Road sections; rumor has it, there are even still some remnants of pyrotechnics lying around the area from the massive fireball scene. Pigsah National Forest's Coleman Boundary provided the scenery for early outside shots with Katniss and Gale outside of District 12, and the North Fork Reservoir in Blue Ridge Parkway served as the Cornucopia lake area for the film. The Reservoir is off-limits but can be viewed from the Craggy Pinnacle Trail.
In Asheville, most of the cast stayed at the Hotel Indigo while others stayed at the DoubleTree Biltmore. Malaprop's Bookstore, the Lexington Avenue Brewery, Wasabi and The Laughing Seed are some of the best-known hang-outs for the cast, and Josh Hutcherson was a big fan of the Navitat Canopy Adventures zip-lining tour. The Early Girl Eatery is another Asheville spot to see since it was where Hutcherson did his "Men of the Hunger Games" interview for Entertainment Weekly.
Hit up all these spots, and you'll definitely have earned your Mockingjay pin.
So, will you descend upon the Carolinas this summer to visit the biggest "Hunger Games" spots? Which sites would you check out first and why?
Amanda Bell is a young adult book-to-film enthusiast and has made a name for herself as a fan-friendly, informative and dependable source. In addition to being the District 14 columnist for NextMovie, she runs the popular Twilight Examiner column. Keep tabs on her on Twitter.