We’ve been big Hunger Games fans for the past two years, so of course we left the kids at home and RAN to see the movie. We know what you’re thinking….Why would we post this if the kids were left at home? Well, some of our readers asked us to do a few posts for parents with older kids. The Hunger Games definitely fits the bill for kids 12 and up! Visiting these sites in North Carolina is a great way to bond with older kids and enjoy the natural beauty of North Carolina.
Picture the mountain forest where Katniss and Gale hunted. Imagine the stand of trees that spit fireballs at terrified Tributes. Envision a gleaming city where schemers jerked the reins of power.
Makers of the “The Hunger Games” film found those settings and more in the diverse landscapes of North Carolina. They shot their adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian novel on locations and soundstages across the western half of the state.
With the movie’s release, you can see their results and follow their cues to create your own “Hunger Games” experience — complete with film locations, star hang-outs and sites that tap the novel’s spirit.
DuPont State Recreational Forest
Welcome to the arena, a dramatic landscape of waterfalls, pines and poplars, hideaway lakes and fishing streams. Hit the trails and see if you can spot Katniss’ pond, the place where Peeta camouflaged himself and traces of the pyrotechnics from the fireball sequence. Shots of the airstrip were fashioned into the aerial view of the train speeding toward the Capitol.dupontforest.com
With its urban sheen, North Carolina’s largest city presents the Capitol’s over-styled residents and the unlucky District tributes at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center’s Knight Theater and other locations. It’s quite a show. www.charlottesgotalot.com
Private warehouses west of the South Lafayette Street hub accommodated the Reaping, the Hob and other District 12 sites (plus the paparazzi’s would-be perch). Visit the restaurants and shops that served the Hollywood visitors — Pleasant City Wood Fire Grill was a favorite. Ask locals about their encounters and keeping mum about Miley Cyrus’ visit to see beau Liam Hemsworth (Gale). www.uptownshelby.org
Craggy Pinnacle Trail
Blue Ridge Parkway
The lake beside the Cornucopia quenched the Career Tributes’ thirsts, and so it is with the North Fork Reservoir, where the Games’ bloodiest action was filmed. Because the reservoir is tapped for drinking water, access is restricted, but hikers can catch a glimpse or two from the Craggy Pinnacle Trail, accessed at the Craggy Gardens visitor center above Asheville. The trail leads to a grassy area with a view of the reservoir, then to the pinnacle, where the crystal blue water is part of the panorama. Visitors are advised to follow the law and stick to the established trail, the better to minimize damage to the environment.www.blueridgeparkway.org
Henry River Mill Village
Pull off Interstate 40 at Exit 119 and drive by the abandoned Henry River Mill Village, which stands in for the Seam and the Mellark family bakery. Beware: The village is private property and posted as such, but the new Hildebran Heritage Museum can help satisfy curiosity.hildebrannc.com
Navitat Canopy Tour
Rue would have loved soaring through the trees at Navitat, one of a dozen or so ziplines in Western North Carolina. In real life, Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) climbed aboard with then-girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens. Another reason to visit: Pre-games scenes with Katniss and Gale were filmed nearby at Coleman Boundary in Pisgah National Forest. www.navitat.com;www.fs.usda.gov
Nantahala Outdoor Center
A Hunger Games tribute would do well to attend Survival School at the NOC, which has 40 years of experience teaching people to thrive in the great outdoors. Wilderness first aid, animal tracking and trapping, friction fire, wild foods and medicinal plants are among the topics covered. www.noc.com
U.S. National Whitewater Center
Gamemakers would no doubt love to tap the talent behind this multi-adventure wonderland, home of the world’s largest manmade river. The long list of activities includes survival programs for adults and families as well as rock climbing, which reportedly enticed Woody Harrelson (Haymitch) during the “Hunger Games” shoot. usnwc.org
On North Davidson Street, the historic NoDa neighborhood has become Charlotte’s hippest, most artsy destination, home of galleries, bars and lively restaurants. “Hunger Games” cast members found their way to Cabo Fish Taco and Amelie’s French Bakery, among other places.www.noda.org
Lexington Avenue Brewery, Wasabi, the Laughing Seed … there’s a long list of spots that attracted cast members during their stay in Asheville. And the trio of young stars stayed at Hotel Indigo. www.exploreasheville.com
Troy & Sons
With his craving for white whiskey, Haymitch would have stashed case upon case of the moonshine made here from heirloom Crooked Creek corn, grown on a nearby farm. And Haymitch wouldn’t have broken the law to buy it. www.troyandsons.com
Nature Research Center
Anyone looking for the lowdown on jabberjays and tracker jackers is advised to try the new wing of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Opening in April, the Nature Research Center will offer a Meet the Scientist experience, in which visitors can pick researchers’ brains. And who knows? If these lab wizards can reverse-engineer a dino-chicken (yes, they’re working on one), they might know how to go about making …… or stopping … a hissing humanoid reptile or wolf mutt. naturesearch.org
Are you planning on visiting North Carolina to experience The Hunger Games for yourself?