“Hey! I recognize that!” If you’ve ever caught yourself exclaiming that phrase, you’ve likely spotted something familiar in an article, or better yet, you saw it in a movie. 

We know exactly how you feel, and we’re not ashamed to admit that we do a happy dance every time one of our old starring roles hits a cable network.

If you’ve never seen Virginia’s Blue Ridge as the backdrop for a Hollywood flick, let us introduce you to the classics filmed in our neck of the woods.

Dirty Dancing

It’s highly likely that everyone over 35 years old knows that “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” and who said it. That’s right, an all-time favorite of Virginians is Dirty Dancing, the 1987 movie starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.

The film’s signature song won an Oscar, Golden Globe, and a Grammy in 1988. What was it? “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” the song that still pops up at weddings for couples brave enough to give that famous lift a try. Case in point.

Portions of Dirty Dancing were filmed at Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke, which still offers “Dirty Dancing Weekends” for those who wish to relive and celebrate moments from the movie. Will you catch yourself muttering “I carried a watermelon?” or perhaps practicing steps to the Merengue in the moonlight? 

Either way, we promise you will have the time of your life when you stay at Mountain Lake Lodge, especially since 2017 is the movie’s 30th anniversary!

What About Bob?

This 1991 comedy starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss was filmed in several locations around Smith Mountain Lake. Dreyfuss played psychiatrist Dr. Leo Marvin and Murray was his very needy patient. So needy, in fact, that Murray’s character, Bob Wiley, followed Dr. Marvin to Lake Winnipesaukee, otherwise known as our beloved Smith Mountain Lake.

Our starring moments:

  • The asylum is the old Elks National Home in Bedford, which is now a senior living community.
  • The lake house! HookedOnHouses.net wrote a nice article about the lakeside home in Wirtz when it was on the market for sale several years ago. (Do not trespass for the sake of seeing a movie location.)

When you come to explore Smith Mountain Lake, consider a stay at Bernard’s Landing. That’s where the cast and crew of What About Bob? stayed.

Lake Effects

Another flick shot at Smith Mountain Lake, Lake Effects stars Jane Seymour and was filmed in Moneta in 2012. Perhaps the most “local” part of Lake Effects is that it’s written and produced by the daughter of a local couple, includes original music by local bands, and features many locals as extras.

Experience Lake Effects Yourself:

  • Attend the annual Smith Mountain Lake Wine Festival, just as Sara and Lilly did.
  • Spend time on the water with a boat of your own or rent one. There’s no place like life on the lake.

A Walk in the Woods

A 2015 drama starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, A Walk in the Woods is the comedic tale of long-lost friends conquering the 2,200-mile long Appalachian Trail, based on the book by Bill Bryson. Not young and sprite, but older and…wiser, the friends embark upon a journey that brings them back together after decades apart.

The most iconic photo of the Appalachian Trail is McAfee Knob in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. So iconic, in fact, that it’s the promotional photo for the movie cover and poster.

Take A Walk in the Woods:

  • Hike to McAfee Knob, a movie location worth the drive but also worth preserving.
  • Hike any of the Appalachian Trail. Virginia has more miles of the AT than any other state.


While Lawless was not filmed in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, it was absolutely born here. Our moonshine heritage is so well known that Franklin County, Virginia is called the “Moonshine Capital of the World” and the “wettest county in the world.” If the latter sounds familiar, here’s why: Lawless was based on the book titled “Wettest County in the World” by Matt Bondurant.

Lawless is based on the true story of the Bondurant Boys, liquor runners during Prohibition. The Bondurant Boys were Matt Bondurant’s grandfather Jack (played by Shia LeBeouf) and great uncles Forrest and Howard (played by Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke, respectively). 

Get your taste of Lawless by reserving a spot on the Moonshine Express, an annual history tour and event highlighting the history of moonshine in the region.

Wish You Well

In 2013, Virginia native David Baldacci saw his novel come to life in cinema form. Wish You Well was shot in various Southwest Virginia locations, including scenes shot at Cascade Falls in Pembroke (as seen in the trailer above). The drive along Route 460 toward Cascade Falls is one of our favorites and one of the ways you can walk in the footsteps of Wish You Well.

Of the novel and the movie, Baldacci said, “The story in Wish You Well is entirely fictional, but the setting, other than the place names, is not. I have been to those mountains, and also was fortunate to grow up with two women who called the high rock home for many years.”

Has our star power enchanted you? It should. Come spend time in Virginia’s Blue Ridge and you’ll love it as much as we and Hollywood do.