Join the Hunger Games tour, or try (probably not very successfully, as water levels and the forest canopy are ever-changing) to pick out locations on your own. Transylvania County is chock full of waterfalls ( visitwaterfalls.com; 1-800-648-4523). A must: Test your courage at Sliding Rock, an 18-metre 60-foot natural rock slide that ends in a plunge pool in Pisgah National Forest, just outside Brevard. Best. Waterslide. Ever. (For video, go to tgam.ca/travel.)
The scene: The Cornucopia
As it’s wont to do in the Blue Ridge region of North Carolina, the skies suddenly open and we find ourselves driving in the middle of a deluge. We regret having to skip the Craggy Pinnacle hike in Craggy Gardens to see the North Fork Reservoir where the critical cornucopia scenes were filmed. When you visit, may the odds be ever in your favour.
Do it yourself
Craggy Gardens is just north of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway. blueridgeparkway.org
The scene: The Capitol
The Capitol of Panem is another world completely foreign to Katniss, who comes from a poverty-stricken coal-mining district. She’s bewildered by the lavish textures and technological capabilities, particularly by a window that transforms into various scenes with the click of a remote. We have our Capitol moment at the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte when Caiden discovers the remote in the washroom turns on a television in the mirror. Later, exquisite treats from Bar Cocoa, in-house, heighten the magic. We don’t run into the delightful Games host Caesar Flickerman, but we do see the stage and theatre his scenes were filmed in when we make it to the Knight Theater.
Do it yourself
Back home, we rush out to see the movie once again, to relive the trip on the screen. And it strikes me that all the simplistic jokes about The Hunger Games teaching children to kill children totally miss the point. Just before a frightening scene, my son grabs my hand and holds on tight: “I know what's going to happen,” he says, “but it scares me whenever someone dies.” The Hunger Games isn't about kids killing kids. It's about kids working together not just to survive, but to inspire hope for change.
That night, I finally start reading Catching Fire. My son can't wait to talk about it.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
Put the various excursions on a circuit, going first from Charlotte to Hildebran, then Asheville, Brevard and Transylvania County, on to Shelby, and looping back to Charlotte.
Where to stay
Asheville: The stars stayed in the penthouse suites at Hotel Indigo. You’ll love the quirky artistic detail in the rooms – and the giant shower. hotelindigo.com
Brevard: For a personal experience, book in at the Red House Inn. Or you can make like the mountain bikers and land at the Hampton Inn just before Pisgah National Forest. It’s clean, the duvets are a step above what you may expect and it’s good value for your dollar. brevardbedandbreakfast.com; brevard.hamptoninn.com
Charlotte: The Ritz-Carlton is a Capitol-worthy splurge at the end of your trip. ritzcarlton.com