This piece was written as part of the Female Travel Bloggers Power Hour.
For as long as I can remember, television and movies have been my life.
As a child, I grew up watching Full House and dreamed of driving over the Golden Gate Bridge; and sitting in the park at Alamo Square – just like they did!
In my pre-teen years, it was Dirty Dancing (yep, thanks Dad for that one!), and the beautiful hotel the Houseman’s vacation at in the Catskills; as well as Mrs Doubtfire; the prettiest house (inside and out) that I could ever wish to see.
Hell, even Christmas wasn’t safe, with Home Alone the one house at the top of my to-see list ever since I first watched it.
In high school, it was Dawson’s Creek. I wanted to live in Dawson’s House. I wanted to go to that high school, and live that American lifestyle in such a beautiful creekside town. Australia just didn’t ever cut it.
And upon graduating high school, this feeling only grew as One Tree Hill, another teen drama (filmed in the exact same town as Dawson’s Creek) made me truly fall in love with television and wanting to see ALL of the locations I could find on a trip over there.
And so it begins…Filming Location Inspired Travels
In 2008, at 22 years old; I went overseas for the very first time to the United States. I worked at Summer camp for 8 weeks in Philadelphia, and then started the trip of a lifetime.
A trip that was planned, based on all the filming locations I HAD to see whilst I was there.
Touching down in Wilmington, North Carolina was all but a dream!
Have you ever been to a city and felt like you knew it? That you have been here before? That’s what walking around here was like for me. It all looked so familiar – which isn’t hard after watching (and re-watching) 6 seasons of Dawson’s Creek and 5 of the current seasons of One Tree Hill. It felt like home.
I trekked to Dawson’s house from the shopping mall (which was one LONG ASS walk of about an hour); as the bus system didn’t go right there and it was just easier to take a map (no smartphones) and walk to it.
Being at this house, to truly start my filming location journey changed my life forever.
It was a beautiful day…and standing here was 10 years in the making.
Looking at Dawson’s window and imagining Joey climbing the ladder up to it; sitting on the pier and remembering Dawson cry when Joey chose Pacey (funniest facial expression ever haha!); or just the hundreds of little moments that happened right here on the front lawn of this house; that sat right on the creek…it was as if I was in the show for real.
I met the owners of the house, an elderly couple. The woman of the house even showed me inside – so I got a tour of the real thing! She also explained about the many marriage proposals that happened here on her dock; and also about how all of the props and exteriors that were built for the show, they kept. So, the seating area that looked out on the creek, the dock, and the porch at front of the house we all know and love (which is the back of the house); all remained as it was in the show. They kept it all.
This was the first time, I truly felt that something I watched on television was not fiction. No, it was a real place. It existed and it was perfect.
Standing on the Rivercourt from One Tree Hill on another day was also life changing; because at the time, it still had the Comet and The Cure lyrics drawn on it (by Peyton, who had written it to Lucas on the finale of Season 5)…and Season 6 was yet to offer answers on what happened.
My two favourite shows were now as real as they ever would be. And I will never forget those moments of taking in everything around me as if I was a character on the show.
Breathing it in.
It was true love.
Ticking More Filming Locations Off My List
I would soon leave Wilmington, after seeing a variety of locations from both Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill – I even saw them filming One Tree Hill and did the set tour at Screen Gems which was amazing! Fast forward 5 years later, and I would be lucky enough to meet 8 of the stars of One Tree Hill (which i traveled to Paris specifically to attend!) and surprisingly, would have my life’s course actually changed by meeting Hilarie Burton that weekend.
As I traveled through America; I stopped in Roanoke, Virginia…where there literally is nothing much to see; to live another dream: staying at the Mountain Lake Hotel aka the Dirty Dancing hotel: one of my favourite films of all time! The hotel was full of reminders of the film, and was during Patrick Swayze’s illness battle, so he was still here. There was no water in the lake due to a major drought though, but what an amazing place to stay!
I ate in the restaurant, I walked the grounds and saw the other locations that were still here; including dancing in the gazebo! It was just magical. The water is now back, so I hope to return in 2016 for a repeat stay and really enjoy it now that I am not such a novice traveler.
After Virginia, I made my way to Chicago. I caught the train out on my first morning there to a town 40 minutes away called Winnetka.
Here was the Home Alone house in all its magical glory! Although smaller than it looks on screen, this house is just amazing! I will always pay it a visit whenever I am Chicago because it is my favourite film.
And I am not ashamed to admit that I had the instrumental theme playing as I walked the short walk from the station to the house. It put me in a Home Alone mood that’s for sure!
After seeing so much, one of the last stops was San Francisco. Here I took in many locations, but it was the 2 that I cared most to see that mattered most: The Full House locations of the house on Broderick Street and Alamo Square and the Mrs Doubtfire house on Steiner St (a few doors away from the Party of Five house actually).
Seeing these were true dreams come true.
Many people visit San Francisco to see all the main sights. And whilst this may be true for me; feeling as though I was part of the film and tv show that I grew up with and loved; made it that much better!
Why Do I See Filming Locations?
I can’t explain to someone who doesn’t enjoy films and tv shows how it feels to invest into something that isn’t real. Or why I pay so much money or spend so much time traveling to a city (even one in the middle of nowhere), to see a location from something I love.
Since 2008, I have returned to Wilmington, North Carolina 3 times. I plan to return in 2016. I will be back in Chicago for the 3rd time this year, as I love the city so much…and I will detour to Winnetka (and a few new places) when I do. I always visit my favourite San Francisco filming locations every time I visit. And every time I stop, there are other fans there too. So it isn’t just me!
I don’t just see locations from the United States. I have seen them all over the world, as I detour to places to see them all; and I look forward to sharing them with everyone as I have the time to write them.
But if you want to see some of what I have written so far, (especially if you are a Nicholas Sparks fan!) check them out under Filming Locations.
Who knew loving movies and tv shows would make me a traveler?
But that’s exactly what it did!
And I LOVE it!