If you’re looking for a unique way to see the city of Chicago, why not see it like you do on the screen, whether that’s the small screen or the big screen. I’m talking about movies and television and the houses that, in a sense, have made Chicago famous. At least famous on the silver screen! They are landmarks in their own right as any TV or movie buff would agree. And there are lot of these silver screen landmarks to see in Chicago!
Pretty much all of John Hughes’1980’s classic pop culture movies were filmed in Chicago. That alone could be a tour of its own, but I’m making this movie homes tour as easy as can be with the exact route to take to some of my favorites, which will not only give you a great glimpse into your childhood memories, but also a really cool way to explore different parts of the city and surrounding suburbs. And if you aren’t in Chicago, you can take the tour from the comfort of your own home. Plus, you’ll have plenty of films to watch (or likely re-watch) when your’re done.
(Full map included below as well.)
1. We are going to start our tour in the heart of downtown with one of my all time favorite movies, My Best Friends Wedding! A classic 90’s film starring Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, Dermot Mulroney and the best of Chicago’s architecture.
- The Drake Hotel: This is where Jules stays in the movie. A vintage hotel at it’s best, located in a prime spot off Michigan Avenue.
- Union Station: This train station is where Jules chases Michael, then has a heart to heart, finally realizing he is in love with another woman and she has to let him go. It’s been beautifully renovated over the last several years and has so much of its original charm back. A public building you can easily explore, and a must see in Chicago.
- Fourth Presbyterian Church: One of the most famous wedding rehearsal’s takes place in this gorgeous church. Jules’ friend George quickly bonds with Kimmy’s mother and pretends to be Jules’ fiance.
- Cuneo Mansion: While it’s not downtown, and the farthest out on the tour, in Vernon Hills, IL, it’s one of the most beautiful stops. This historic home is where Kimmy’s parents reside in the movie, and where you will catch Jules chasing Michael across the lawn in an attempt to win his affections. It’s also where one of the twin cousins gets her tongue stuck to an ice sculpture (a male one – you can guess where) and Kimmy and Michael’s reception takes place.
2. If you haven’t seen this next one, showcasing a rowdy high-schooler and his antics on his “sick day,” odds are you might be living under a rock. Of course, I am referring to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. For movie buffs all over the world, especially those of us in Chicago, this is a classic film always guaranteed to bring a lot of smiles. Ferris and his friends fake sick and take an epic adventure around the city. You can follow their route on your own sick day and see some of the best Chicago has to offer! So who is up for it? Bueller….Bueller….
- The Art Institute: Ferris and friends wander through this museum contemplating life.
- Picasso Sculpture/Daley Plaza
- Wrigley Field: What sick day in Chicago doesn’t consist of a ball game at one of the country’s most renowned stadiums? While it’s been renovated over the years a lot of the original charm, and all the original appeal still stand. While Wrigley has been on the silver screen countless times, it was known as another name, Harvey Field, in the film A League of Their Own.
- Cameron’s House: The all glass masterpiece where Cameron and Ferris launch Cameron’s dad’s car out of the garage and launch themselves into freedom. It was also featured in the movie Risky Business, starring Tom Cruise. It’s an architectural gem tucked into the middle of the woods of a Northshore suburb.
3. The Brat Pack is featured a lot on this tour, but the first stop from their many moments in Chicago comes from the film About Last Night with Demi Moore and Rob Lowe (literally at his finest!). We follow them becoming adults and experiencing the highs and lows of city living and their relationship. One of their regular hangouts is a well known underground bar called Mother’s. It’s just as dingy as it appears in the movie, but just as fun too. I spent many a night dancing and playing beer pong at Mother’s in my early 20’s.
4. Next up, a tidy little house tucked into the neighborhood I call home, Lakeview East. It’s the charming home of Danny (John Candy) and his mother Rose (Maureen O’Hara) from Only the Lonely.
5. Let’s stay in Lakeview East for another moment and take a peek at the condo where Gary (Vince Vaughn) and Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) cause each other heartache, leading to The Break-Up. Nearby you can also see the famed Riviera Theater, where sadly Gary stands Brooke up for a concert. This film has many sad moments for the couple, but great moments for the city of Chicago. [Fun Fact – Before moving to Chicago, I was visiting with a friend. We stayed with her cousin in Lakeview and after a day shopping downtown took the train back north. The Break-Up happened to come out that weekend, and we happened to stumble right into the premier at the famous Chicago landmark theater the Music Box. Everyone was there, including Vince, Jennifer and Justin Long.]
6. Most of the suburban kids who ruled the screens in the 80’s and 90’s came from Chicago based movies. The Brat Pack were a big part of that. This group of teens was repeatedly featured in John Hughes’ films, which makes sense, as John grew up in the Northern suburbs of Chicago. Sixteen Candles featured the famous red-head Molly Ringwald and her teen angst. We saw her fawn over hunky Jake Ryan (Michael Shoeffling), while geeky Ted (Anthony Michael Hall) fawned over her. And who could forget wacky exchange student, Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe).
- Baker’s Home: In the lovely town of Evanston, just north of Chicago, you will find the home of Samantha Baker and her family. A lovely little place to call home.
- Party House: This is where we see all the “cool” kids at a typical 80’s party – or at least what we think was typical based on 1980’s movies – and we find Long Duk Dong drunk and passed out on the lawn.
- Glencoe Union Church: This lovely little chapel is where Samantha’s sister ties the knot. But most importantly, it’s where we see Jake Ryan waiting for her across the street, validating his feelings and making girls swoon all over the world. She got the guy she wanted – the popular jock who turned out to be a total sweetheart.
- High school: A movie about high school kids has to feature a high school building. Sadly this one, in real life known as Niles East and located in Skokie, IL is mostly gone today. Only the basement from the original building remains, with a modern college now taking over above ground.
7. Maybe the most well-known Brat Pack movie is The Breakfast Club. It takes place mostly in the library of a high school as a group of students bond during detention. It’s a lesson in accepting others and not judging a book by its cover. But, let’s be honest, the best lesson is that 1980’s teen movies are truly timeless.
8. Last on the tour, but most certainly not least is one of the most iconic Christmas movies of all times. All I need to say is “Keviiiiiiin.” That’s right it’s Home Alone! I made a tradition early on in my time in Chicago to visit the McCallister house around the holidays, and I have done it every year since. The first time, I kid you not, there were tears. It’s a movie I grew up watching. I can’t even count the number of times I have seen it and being in front of the famous home was a little overwhelming. Word of warning – there is no tree house in the backyard or little sculpted man for the pizza guy to knock over in the driveway. The kid in me totally came out here and I expected just what I had seen so many times on screen. One thing you have to remind yourself on this tour is that you aren’t on a sound stage or backlot – real people lead real lives in these places! (With that said, also be respectful when taking pictures.)
- McCallister Home: One of the most famous houses in the world. It’s nostalgic just being in front of it, remembering funny scenes from the Home Alone movies, but more importantly the joy they have always brought. You can almost see Kevin sliding down the stairs, or the pizza boy knocking on the front door.
- Flooded Neighbor’s: Not only can you see Kevin’s home, but the house that was flooded is directly across the street.
- Scary Neighbor’s: Just next door is the home of Old Man Marley. The scary guy who turns out to be not-so-scary. I actually have been inside this home when it was for sale and there was an open house. It is incredibly beautiful and full of charm. No scary vibes lingering!
- Church Exterior: Fun fact about this movie – the church is actually two separate buildings. One in the Northern suburbs was used for all the exterior shots.
- Church Interior: Across town in the Western suburbs is where all the interior church scenes were shot. It’s pretty majestic inside and sitting in the pew I could almost hear the children’s choir singing, the church bells ringing and Kevin’s heartbeat rising. Apparently I was so taken by it, I forgot to take pictures.
- Ice Rink & Pharmacy: The village of Hubbard Woods houses the pharmacy where Kevin inquires about his toothbrush, then proceeds to steal said toothbrush and run out of the store, across the street and onto the ice rink (that is now a year round park with pavilion) before making it back home.
- O’Hare Airport: Any time you sprint through the airport, or if you aren’t like me and are actually on time and just watch other people sprint through the airport, you probably picture the entire McCallister clan running through the airport, under a long row of international flags. Well, you too can run through that exact spot, on your way to Florida or New York (like Kevin and family), or wherever your heart desires – it’s Terminal 5 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
You can find all addresses and locations of the tour stops on this detailed map I put together. I recommend making your way from downtown North through the Northshore suburbs.
This tour is enough to fill an entire day (at least it took that long for me!), but the journey doesn’t have to end there. There are many more amazing movies who call the great city of Chicago “home” and feature it in a starring role on the silver scree. A few of my favorites are below!
- Adventures in Babysitting
- Curly Sue
- The Blues Brothers
- Baby’s Day Out
- Return to Me
- The Vow
- While You Were Sleeping
To see a full list of all of the movies filmed in or around Chicago, visit the Chicago Film Office website or the Choose Chicago website. To check out more filming locations for your favorite movies (maybe not based in Chicago) click here and here.
Signed with Style,
Save this post to Pinterest so you can take your Chicago Movie Homes Tour, and maybe Come & Knock on My (aka their) door – but, remember real people live and work here, so don’t do that unless it’s a public place!
3 thoughts on “Come & Knock On My Door: Movie Homes of Chicago”
Great tour. Fun activity for everyone!
Thank you! I agree – it’s an easy one for people of all ages, especially in Covid times.