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Are you feeling all Texas Forever? Would seeing the sights from Dazed and Confused have you feeling alright, alright, alright? You could easily spend a day traveling to the shooting locations for some of the best TV shows and movies shot in the Austin area.
Here’s where you can find the best Austin movies and TV filming locations!
1. Smithville, the home of Hope Floats
Head over to Smithville to see the real downtown strip of shops featured in Hope Floats. Of course, you don’t want to miss the Calvert House (201 E. Eighth & Olive St.) with its wraparound balcony and stately presence. Fun fact: the Brad Pitt film Tree of Life also shot in Smithville.
2. Last Chance Gas Station
On the way out to Smithville, stop off in Bastrop to visit the Last Chance Gas Station (1073 TX-304), which served as the infamous setting for much of 1974’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s now a joint called We Slaughter Barbecue which features a music venue, movie-themed gift shop, and motel with cabins in the back for fans who want a full horror experience.
3. The Landing Strip
On your way back into Austin, stop by the Landing Strip (745 US Highway 183 S.), just like the boys did in Varsity Blues. The adult entertainment venue is where James Van Der Beek, Paul Walker (RIP), Scott Caan, and Ron Lester got all hot for teacher and then blew a big game, much to the chagrin of Coach Kilmer.
4. West Canaan
Want more Varsity Blues? Drive out to Elgin and cruise down Main Street. Located East of Austin, the downtown strip is most memorably featured when Tweeder steals a cop car and pulls up to Jonny Mox, beckoning him to help entertain the three naked ladies accompanying him on his joy ride.
5. Endora, Iowa
Situated between Elgin and Austin is Manor, which served as Endora, Iowa, in the ’90s film What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. The water tower Leonardo Dicaprio’s character Arnie infamously climbed is situated at the junction of Old US-20/Parsons Street and South Lexington Street. After Arnie is hauled into the police station, though, it’s the town square of Georgetown where mama has to go claim him. Unfortunately, the Pflugerville area house featured in the film no longer exists as it was burned to the ground at the end of the film.
6. Tim Riggins’ House
Who doesn’t love Taylor Kitsch as Tim Riggins in “Friday Night Lights?” Of all the FNL filming sights, the Riggins home in Austin (2604 Lehigh Drive) is our fave. It may have something to do with the sign hanging in the front window, marking it with his Dillon High football number. We love that the home owners have as much Panther pride as we do. Just around the corner, you’ll find the Taylor household as well (6805 De Paul Cove). If you want to see all the FNL locales that are still standing, check out this updated list.
7. “The Real World Austin” House
While the “Real World Austin” house is technically still standing, you’ll barely recognize it (301 San Jacinto Blvd). Following the MTV reality series, the space was turned into a restaurant called Rio Grande which kept some of the features in place (including the Austin sign on the roof). When Vince Young Steakhouse took over, the space received a complete overhaul and any resemblance to what you saw on screen was erased from the interior. Fans can still take a picture in front of the building, of course. Afterwards, hit Sixth Street and reminisce about all the drama the gang experienced there, including Nehemiah allegedly bitch-slapping a dude at the Best Wurst stand and Joanna getting charged with public intoxication after being accused of stealing a rose from a street stand.
8. Top Notch
What is completely recognizable is the North Burnet drive-in, Top Notch (7525 N. Burnet Rd). Best known as the locale where Matthew McConaughey first uttered the phrase, “Alright, alright, alright” in Dazed and Confused, it’s also where Jules works in Varsity Blues. The Emporium, where MM talks about “those high school girls” is now Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew (6610 N. Lamar Blvd), located in the Violet Crown Shopping Center on North Lamar.
9. Omni Austin Hotel at Southpark
The pageant hotel in Miss Congeniality was supposedly set in San Antonio, however the hotel where they actually shot those scenes is right here in Austin at the Omni Austin at Southpark (4140 Governors Row). You’ll most recognize the room doors that face the pool, as that’s where Benjamin Bratt would rap on the door of Sandra Bullock’s Gracie Hart character to have late night convos. The pageant itself took place at Bass Concert Hall.
10. Miracle, Texas
One of the most recent filming locations in the Austin area is the fictional town of Miracle, Texas, in HBO’s “The Leftovers.” The courthouse of Lockhart (110 South Main Street) is the most recognizable. You can also snap pics at the St. Paul United Church (728 S. Main Street) where Matt practiced while in Jarden, as well as the Garvey and Murphy houses (420 and 426 W. Prairie Lea Street). Back in Austin, Onion Creek Park’s famous bridge, known as Old Moore’s Crossing, stands in for the show’s entrance to Miracle State Park. Fun fact: Lockhart’s town square was also featured in Christopher Guest’s Waiting for Guffman.
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All original photos by author.