Famous Film & Television Locations in Illinois

Visit famous filming locations in Illinois from movies and TV shows such as The Dark Knight, Chicago Fire, and The Blues Brothers.

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by Amber Holst in Arts & Culture, Chicago
September 14, 2018

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From giant catsup bottles to spectacular rock formations, Illinois is full of memorable landmarks — but some might already be more familiar than you'd think. Over the years, Illinois has served as the setting for many popular movies and TV shows.  

Here are just a handful of the famous films and television locations in Illinois, all of which are worth a detour to frame a few shots of your own.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Chicagoland

Let’s start with the obvious. From Northbrook to Highland Park, Winnetka to West Wacker Drive, Ferris Bueller makes his wacky way around the Chicagoland area throughout the entirety of this 1986 John Hughes classic. Some of the most famous scenes can be reenacted on the steps of The Art Institute of Chicago and across their exhibits, or while looking down on sidewalk dwellers below from the 103rd floor of Willis Tower at Skydeck Chicago – The Ledge.

The Dark Knight

Chicago

“Why so serious?” Because we’re about to put a smile on that face as we shed light on where to find the best of Gotham City right here in Chicago. Remember the opening scene where the Joker robs Gotham National Bank? That was filmed at the old Chicago Post Office (404 W. Harrison). Further south, the West Building of McCormick Place is the exterior of the Applied Sciences Division of Wayne Enterprises, and Wayne Enterprises HQ is actually the Daley Center in the Loop.

As for Mr. Wayne himself, his swanky bachelor pad wasn't actually a penthouse — the scene was staged in the lobby of the One Illinois Center. That building is located at 111 E. Wacker Drive — just above the sub-street-level Lower Wacker, where Batman's Tumbler chased after Joker's henchmen.

Remember the epic Batman/Joker face-off? That filmed on the historic stretch of South LaSalle Street in the Loop. Snap your shot facing south toward the Chicago Board and Trade building, which you may also recognize from the infamous baby carriage scene in the movie The Untouchables.

Groundhog Day

Woodstock

When you can’t shake that uncanny feeling of déjà vu, you’re probably in Woodstock, IL. A replacement for Pennsylvania during the winter months, the town served as the backdrop for Bill Murray’s unshakeable time loop as a weatherman with disdain for Punxsutawney Phil. One of the more recognizable images in the film is the Victorian bed and breakfast in which Phil Connors stayed. Today, you too can get a room in the historic building, which today is known as The Cherry Tree Inn. (Just don't expect your overnight stay to keep repeating on an infinite loop.)

Wayne's World

Aurora

A psych-out for the books, Wayne’s World was set in Aurora, IL but filmed primarily in Los Angeles. Exsqueeze me?

That said, Berwyn's Cermak Plaza Shopping Center did house a piece of public art made famous in the film. Remember those eight cars impaled on a 40-foot-tall spike in the center of its spacious parking lot? Named "Spindle," the car kebob was proudly on display in Berwyn, IL, until it was demolished in 2008. Party on, Illinois. We still get to claim the film.

If you're itching for a taste of Wayne's World history, though, be sure to catch a show at The Second City, where Mike Meyers got his start in comedy along with other comedy icons such as Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Catherine O'Hara, and Stephen Colbert.

The Blues Brothers

Chicago and Joliet

Speaking of Second City alumni: John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd also cut their teeth at the famed institution. The two would later star together in 1980's The Blues Brothers, which features many prominent Chicago sites. When Belushi’s character is released from prison, he’s actually being released from the Joliet Correctional Center in Joliet, IL. That building has recently reopened for tours as the Old Joliet Prison Park.

Downtown Chicago cameos also take place on sites all throughout the city, including W. Van Buren Street, Jackson Park, W. Addison Street and more. Remember when the Bluesmobile jumped the raised urban drawbridge, ascending to eternal pop-culture fame? That’s the 95th Street Bridge in Chicago, which proudly still stands — and raises — to this day.

A League of Their Own

Chicago (Wrigleyville)

This 1992 film starring Geena Davis and Tom Hanks follows the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during WWII. Though you may remember it referred to as “Harvey Field” in the movie, the real location of team tryouts took place at the iconic Wrigley Field.

On most fair-weather days, you can take guided tours of Wrigley Field to see the field up close. Staying at Hotel Zachary at Clark and Addison puts you right in the center of the Wrigleyville neighborhood.

Chicago Fire

Chicago

The brave heroes of Chicago Fire operate out of Engine 18 in Chicago. Luckily, the fictional firehouse is also a real-life firehouse located at 1360 S. Blue Island Avenue. While the station is not an official tourist attraction — it is a working firehouse, after all — many visitors on TripAdvisor report that the friendly crews often lead informal tours of the station during their downtime.

Shameless

Chicago (Lawndale)

Though Shameless is mostly shot at a Los Angeles studio, the production team and cast visit Chicago to film for a few weeks each year. While attentive viewers will catch references to the Gallagher clan hailing from Canaryville, the residences you see are actually located in the Lawndale neighborhood. (That does explain the “L” cars you regularly see running through the neighborhood, though — Canaryville doesn’t have that.)

So, can you snap a selfie in front of the Gallagher house? Yes, you sure can. It’s at 2119 S. Homan Ave. You can get ones in front of Sheila’s (1937 S. Spaulding Ave.), Kevin and V’s (2113 S. Homan Ave.), and the Milkovich’s (1955 S. Trumball Ave.), too.

As for grabbing a drink at the Alibi Room, you’ll have no such luck unless you visit the Warner Bros lot in Burbank, CA. You can, however, try Ricobene’s (252 W. 26th St.) pizza for yourself (the Gallagher’s delivery pizza of choice). It’s a South Side institution.

By Amber Holst of Concierge Preferred


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