The new adaptation was filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana and North Carolina… Here’s some tips for the perfect location vacation
A growing trend is set jetting – travelling to destinations that are seen in films. Some examples being Albuquerque, New Mexico, the setting of Breaking Bad and New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park, where Lord of the Rings was filmed. Of course, closer to home, the north coast of Northern Ireland, where Game of Thrones was shot has reinvigorated tourism. (Fans should check out the new, immersive Game of Thrones studio tour at Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, Co Down; www.gameofthronesstudiotour.com).
Fans of Delia Owens’ bestseller Where The Crawdads Sing wax lyrical about the novel’s evocative sense of place, arguably the biggest character she created. In the film adaptation released on July 22, the cinematography by Polly Morgan captures the beauty of the marshland, with vivid sunsets, gliding herons and its maze of waterways.
Crawdads was filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana and North Carolina, which may prompt many to plan “location vacations” to these states. Certainly the cast loved the experience. Actor Taylor John Smith, who plays the romantic lead in the film, told Variety: “I’m so grateful we got to film in New Orleans with the gators and snakes and humidity. There’s almost a thickness in the air when you watch the movie, like the hot heavy air that you can feel.”
Here’s where to stay and what to see:
Maison de la Luz, New Orleans
This bold, whimsical new boutique hotel is located in the Warehouse District of New Orleans, just beside its sister hotel The Ace Hotel. The former Beaux Arts office building has been transformed and interiors include a cinematic staircase, destination bar (designed by the sought after Quixotic Projects) and a plush library with a secret bookcase that opens up into a private salon. For lovers of Wes Anderson and art deco, this “lighthouse of the senses” will appeal. Away from the hotel, Lafayette Square and several art galleries are only steps away, while New Orleans’ French Quarter is a five-block walk; www.maisondelaluz.com.
Audubon Cottages, New Orleans
This collection of historic seven one- and two-bedroom suites give the feeling of a secluded hideaway even though they are in a plum location in the French Quarter. Set around a courtyard with a shared saltwater pool, said to be the oldest pool in New Orleans, guests are close to Bourbon Street but a world away in terms of tranquillity and calm. Breakfast can be served in the pool house, and while there is no on-site restaurant, there are plenty close by. Apparently the best place to sample traditional jambalaya, or Southern staples like grits and crawfish boil – a favourite of the film cast while filming – is the laidback Coop’s Place, which is in the French Quarter. While in New Orleans, to transport yourself into the book, visitors can rent a kayak and explore the wetlands around New Orleans – one of North America’s richest places for birdlife; www.auduboncottages.com.
Maison de Ville, New Orleans
Don’t let the fact that the historic Maison de Ville hotel is a short walk from the infamous Bourbon Street put you off staying. This is a tranquil spot with an idyllic courtyard surrounded by galleries and antiques stores, mirrored in the interior design of the hotel, with its vintage furniture, chandeliers, hardwood floors, and paintings by conservationist John James Audubon. Former guests include Tennessee Williams and Liz Taylor, who no doubt enjoyed the Big Easy right on the hotel’s doorstep – live jazz echoes down the block; www.maisondeville.com.
Where to stay in North Carolina
The highest mountain peaks in the Eastern USA meet 482 kilometres of shoreline in North Carolina, both landscapes offering endless views and Instagram-worthy spots. The North Carolina mountains are home to hundreds of waterfalls such as Catawba and Crabtree, including more than 250 in the Brevard area alone. It’s the perfect place for hikes and watersports along the coast – including kiteboarding, surfing, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. Climb historic lighthouses; board a historic battleship; or take in both a sunrise and sunset from the very same beach. And get your camera ready: wild horses roam the sands of two separate banks.
Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville, North Carolina
A setting in several pivotal scenes, the foodie city of Asheville is a must visit location for lovers of the book. The scenic Blue Ridge Mountains provide the picture-perfect backdrop for the Omni Grove Park Inn, an oasis with distinctive stone architecture which combines rustic décor, a luxe subterranean spa (with features resembling natural caves and waterfalls) and activities galore – there’s an 18-hole golf course, nine tennis courts, horse carriage riding, eight gift shops and a nightclub.
The hotel, originally built in 1912, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has hosted presidents such as Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Dwight D Eisenhower. F Scott Fitzgerald lived at the Inn for a year when he was struggling with tuberculosis and alcoholism, while his wife Zelda, was institutionalised with schizophrenia in an Asheville hospital. Mementos of its past guests are found throughout the hotel and they were no doubt drawn to crisp mountain air and sweeping views. It definitely gives off country club vibes. One of the simplest pleasures may well be sitting on the porch in a mission rocking chair, while its Sunset Terrace is the most popular dining place; www.omnihotels.com.
Old Edwards Inn and Spa, Highlands, North Carolina
This posh, European-style Relais & Chateaux property and mountain resort features a private golf club, impressive spa and elegant restaurants. Accommodation options include luxury rooms, suites and cottages individually decorated with period antiques, oriental rugs, hardwood floors, Frette bedlinen acing comfort and convenience. The hotel is integral to the vibrant town of Highlands, on the (fun) scenic southwestern plateau of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains; www.relaischateaux.com.
The Swag, Waynesville, North Carolina
Originally built as a family home, this unusual hideaway is on the summit of the Great Smoky Mountains and combines authentic hospitality (and group dining) with epic natural beauty and unrivalled views. Guests can choose from a variety of unpretentious private cabins, a renovated cottage on the grounds or nestle into main lodge, where rooms are named after original family members. Restorative activities (reading in the 40-year-old library to jigsaws or admiring the garden) and complemented by more challenging ones such as hikes, horse riding, kayaking, all bound to work up an appetite. As a Relais & Chateaux hotel, its food offerings range from Chef’s Picnic days, seasonal four-course dinners, barbecues every Thursday and s’mores around the firepit after dinner!; www.theswag.com.