Planes, Trains, & Automobiles: A Thanksgiving Classic Filmed in Illinois

All images from IMDB

It’s a Thanksgiving classic many Illinoisans sit down to every year with pumpkin pie or mugs of cider. Starring Steve Martin and the late John Candy, Planes, Trains, & Automobiles is a John Hughes classic with lots of references to locations in Illinois. While the movie begins in New York and strands Steve Martin’s character, Neal Page, in Wichita with John Candy’s Del Griffith, the shower curtain ring salesman, many scenes were filmed right here in Illinois!

It’s there that Neal and Del find a hotel room at the “Edelen’s Braidwood Inn.” This inn is actually in Braidwood, Illinois and is the Sun Motel (140 South Hickory Street). When introducing the scene to a new day, the film shoots pigs across a highway to show the “Braidwood Inn,” which is actually Interstate 55. After some filming in New York, Neal and Del end up in St. Louis, where Neal expresses (colorfully) his need for a rental car in the parking lot at Lambert International Airport. It was there he was also punched after an almost accident with Del Griffith’s car.

The St. Louis Bus Station they also end up with is actually in Chicago. It was at 20 E. Randolph Street, but has since been torn down.

After an eventful trip up I-55, Neal and Del Griffith end up at the El Rancho Motel, located in Gurnee. It is there where Neal leaves Del Griffith in the destroyed rental car in the parking lot as it starts to snow, before realizing he did not have a motel room for the night and welcomed him in for chips and drinks in the room he got for $17 and a nice watch.

As the torched car is towed into town, the courthouse shown in the town is in Woodstock, also where the cheese carrying Oshkonoggin semi-truck driver picked them up to drop them off at the LaSalle/Van Buren El Station. It is at this location where Neal finds out that Del Griffith’s wife has passed away and he needs a friend for Thanksgiving Day.

When he invites Del to his home for Thanksgiving dinner, Neal actually brought him to Kenilworth! Though it looks similar to the famous “Home Alone” house in Winnetka, the Page residence is located in Kenilworth southeast of the McAlister’s home.

While this movie is a comedy classic, it also drew attention to the issue of homelessness with John Candy’s character. This time of year is important to remember our neighbors and reach out to people in need. If you know someone who is lonely and could use a seat at the Thanksgiving table, welcome them. Donate to your favorite charity if you are able and be kind to the people you encounter during this stressful time of year.

Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving next week!