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ARMCHAIR EXPLORER: Florida on film

With corona cases surging in Florida, it may yet be some time before Canadians can or are willing to venture to the Sunshine State. To help bide that time, Visit Florida’s curated list of cinematic options where “it just so happens that Florida sets the scene” will undoubtedly viewers remember what they’re missing.

“Escaping the stress of the day-to-day – especially now – through TV and movies is a wonderful and safe way to travel the world…” says the state tourism agency, which invites future travellers to “Sit back, relax and explore the sunny shores of Florida from the comfort of your couch… and when the time is right, experience it for yourself!”

Lonely Hearts – Jacksonville

In ‘Lonely Hearts’ (2006), a neo-noir film based on the true story of the notorious “Lonely Hearts Killers” of the 1940s, John Travolta plays a detective chasing the infamous duo (played by Salma Hayek and Jared Leto). The film was partially shot in downtown Jacksonville and on the idyllic neighbouring destination of Amelia Island.

My Girl – Bartow

Off the beaten path, well-known film locations also await visitors. Though set in “Pennsylvania,” the movie ‘My Girl’ (1991) – starring Anna Chlumsky as Vada Sultenfuss and Macaulay Culkin as her best friend Thomas – was actually shot in Florida, and the Sultenfuss home (and funeral parlour) can be found at 555 East Stanford St. in Bartow, located between Orlando and Tampa.

Scarface – Miami

The remake of one of the most famous gangster stories of all time, ‘Scarface’ (1983) was not filmed in Chicago like the original but in Miami, where Cuban refugee Tony Montana – played by Al Pacino – becomes a mafia boss. From the famous chainsaw scene on Ocean Drive to the iconic Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel where Manny (Steven Bauer) gets slapped in the face after flirting with a girl by sticking his tongue out at her, Florida is featured throughout. In fact, this famed hotel also appears in the James Bond film ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘The Bodyguard’ starring Whitney Houston.

African Queen – Florida Keys

African Queen, photo – Andy Newman Florida Keys News Bureau

In the classic film ‘The African Queen’ (1951), Katharine Hepburn’s character is offered safe passage on a boat of the same name by a dissolute steam captain (Humphrey Bogart). Set during WW1, the two spend most of their time fighting each other rather than the Germans, and time alone on the river leads to love. Of particular note for film tourists, the iconic vessel from the production was discovered in Ocala, Florida in 1982 and completely restored and refinished, and today visitors to Key Largo can set sail on a 90-minute tour.

The Truman Show – Seaside

“Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!” Every morning, Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) greets his audience… without knowing that he even has one. Rarely has there been a more suitable location for a film than Seaside – located in northwest Florida, between Panama City Beach and Destin – was for ‘The Truman Show’ (1998). The town itself was the first planned community in the State, and today it’s a resort town consisting of summer homes, including Truman’s own house (proudly labelled ‘The Truman House’) found at 31 Natchez St..


Florida is also featured in countless TV shows, ranging from Miami Vice to Dexter and Flipper to The Golden Girls.

First published at Travel Industry Today

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