Wilmington, North Carolina 2022
It has always been a dream of mine to visit the Filming Locations of the 90’s hit teen drama Dawson’s Creek. As a teenager in the U.K, I desperately wanted to go to Capseside, Massachusetts. Thanks to the invention of the internet, I would soon learn that the fictional town of ‘Capeside’ was not in Massachusetts but a lot further south in a little town called Wilmington in North Carolina.
As a teenager and then young adult, traveling to this obscure little town was expensive and not going to happen anytime soon. Imagine my joy when in 2019, my husband Steve announces he plans an ‘East Coast’ USA Roadtrip which we would end by driving down to North Carolina. The teenager in me was giddy with excitement. Then the world shut down. Never one to give up on our plans, we rescheduled the trip for July 2022, and finally, 2 years later I made it to Capeside.
The filming of Dawson’s Creek took place in Wilmington from 1997 to 2003. Yes, even the ‘Boston’ scenes where the gang all move away are actually filmed in Wilmington! Here is a list of the key Dawson’s Creek Scenes and where exactly in Wilmington they are filmed.
Map Of Dawsons Creek Filming Locations
Use our free Google Map above or click the individual Google Map links when you are close by and we will take you right there.
Oh, how I wished as a teen that I attended Capeside High! To walk across that iconic lawn just as Dawson and Pacey did. Capeside High was filmed at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (601 S College Rd, Wilmington, NC 28403) in Alderman Hall. Alderman Hall is located on the left-hand side of the lawn and ‘fond memories of filming the show’ is commemorated with a plaque on a bench by the entrance door.
Leery’s Fresh Fish
Season 3 of Dawson’s Creek was my favorite and one of my favorite episodes (and there are so many!!) was the ‘Anit- Prom’ held at Dawson’s parents’ restaurant: Lerry’s Fresh Fish. The scene where Pacey recognizes Joey’s mom’s bracelet- oh how I wanted a Pacey Whitter in my life! (FYI- I’m a Massive Pacey fan. I was always Team Pacey!)
Leery’s Fresh Fish is actually called Michaels on the Waterfront (5 South Water Street, Wilmington) and is located at the end of the riverwalk past the Lennon Courthouse.
Just adjacent to Leery’s/ Michaels Restaurant is the Courthouse where opposite stands a part of the Riverwalk that has been used for many Dawson’s Creek scenes including Pacey and Andie’s first kiss and many, many other over-discussed and over-analyzed teen angst moments.
The River Walk
The Riverwalk runs right down Cape Fear River and is instantly recognizable as the location for numerous scenes in the show. It’s hard not to walk along the wooden slats in such familiar surroundings and feel like you are right there in the show. The Cape Fear Bridge stands out as a regular backdrop to scenes in the show.
The Leery House and Jen’s House
Ok, so no major self-respecting Dawson’s Creek fan would go to Wilminton and NOT want to visit the home of Dawson himself and his self-titled Creek. Fun Fact: the creek used for the location of Dawson’s home is actually called Hewlett Creek.
Before we embarked on this trip, we reached out to the owners of the Leery House to see if we would be allowed to visit. Any previous blogs we could find of fans visiting the house were over 10 years out of date and had mixed reviews on whether they were welcome at the house or not. The Famous Creek, Lawn, and exterior of the house might be the ultimate Dawson’s Creek filming location but it is still private property and we did not feel comfortable trespassing just for photos without prior permission.
The current homeowners replied via email that the house, creek, lawn, and driveway were no longer open to the public and they appreciated their privacy. As Jen Linley’s House is along the driveway down to the creek this also rules out visiting Jen’s House too. We politely replied that we respected their privacy, would stay away on our trip, and included this updated information in our article about Wilmington so that fans planning a visit are aware that the House is closed off. As a result, we do not have any photos of the Leery House.
Wrightsville Beach- Opening Credits
The beach and pier the gang walk along and play around on is Crystal Pier on Wrightsville Beach (S Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480). Wrightsville beach is named one of the top beaches of North Carolina and 90’s nostalgia aside, its a very beautiful beach to visit: we even spotted Dolphins swimming along the shoreline We parked in one of the paid parking spots near Crystal Pier and set up camp next to the very same area that the Dawson’s cast walked along. Try sitting there without the theme tune running through your head- I bet that you can’t help it!
In season 3, in an attempt to show his yet undeclared love (probably even to himself at this point) Pacey bought (well, rented) Joey a wall for her to continue her painting after her school memorial was vandalized by another student. It was part of another major scene between these two later in the same series when Pacey writes ‘Ask Me To Stay’ on the wall before leaving on his boat for the summer.
This wall does still exist opposite the Reel Cafe on 100 South Front St however, someone has since built a canopy over the wall. You can still see the wall though and the place Joey and Pacey stood in those scenes. It is still an important location for any Dawson’s fan to visit.
CD Store- now The Black Cat Shoppe
The CD store that is featured in a few episodes but namely where Dawson bumps into Pacey’s sister Gretchen in season 4, is now a souvenir/gift shop called The Black Cat Shoppe at 8 Market Street Wilmington, NC 28401. This quirky gift shop sells Dason’s Creek merchandise and I couldn’t resist purchasing the ‘Ask me to Stay’ wall t-shirt. Did I wear it in front of Joey’s wall? Absolutely! Told you: Team Pacey. The staff in the shop were very welcoming and gave lots of information on many filming locations that had been used in Wilmington. Apparently, Wilmington is used so often for filming that its nickname amongst locals is ‘WilmingWood’!
Town of Capeside
When watching the show, the characters regularly walk through what is intended as the center of Capeside town. This main street used is Market Street, in Historic Old Wilmington. Looking down the street you can see the River Walk and just like walking along the river, you get a real familiar feeling of walking through Capeside just like on the t.v.
Joey and Pacey’s Big Kiss
Who can forget the scene where Pacey pulls the car over, demanding Joey explains her feelings towards him, and goes in for the big Kiss??!! Probably one of the most pivotal moments of the show that quite literally meant nothing between the 3 friends was ever the same again, creating a love triangle that spanned 3 more seasons until Joey finally made her decision in the series Finale.
This scene was filmed on Airlie Road. Just up from the Dockside Restaurant, there is a clear bend on the left where Pacey pulls his car over.
Airlie Road was used 2 more times in the series: first, later in Season 3 when Deputy Doug pulls Joey over to tell her that his little brother is leaving for the summer, and again in Season 5 where they filmed the death of Mitch Leery (R.I.P Mitch).
Just up Airlie Road is Airlie Gardens, a public southern garden that costs $9 to visit. Many Dawsons Creek scenes were filmed here but most famously was the scene at ‘The Ruins’ where Pacey and Miss Jacobs get intimate, all recorded by Dawson’s video camera (accidentally of course). ‘The Ruins’ are located in the Pergola Gardens and are instantly recognizable from the show.
Bradley Creek in Airlie Garden was also used for the many row boat scenes of Joey rowing down the creek to Dawsons House.
True Love Dock
One of the major storylines in Season 3 was Pacey renovating a shipwrecked boat and naming it “True Love”. The dock that was used in the episodes “The Longest Day” and the season finale is just outside Wilminton at Southport Marina sits right on Yacht Basin Drive and West Brunswick Street. It is distinctively recognizable by the yellow wooden building next to the dock that features in the episodes. Ironically, the yellow building is actually a Fresh Fish Shop called Potters that has been open for many years, prior to the show being filmed there.
Originally a temporary set built for seasons 5 and 6, Hells Kitchen is the bar used for the college years when the gang moved to ‘Boston’. After the show ended, a restauranteur opened it up to the public under the very same name. Inside, there is a ‘Dawson’s Creek’ booth in honor of the show. We ate here one evening and can say the food is great!
There were 2 ‘Icehouse’ Restaurants in the show. The first was burnt down by Joey’s dad early in the show and the 2nd, which pacey opened at the end of the show.
The location for the first ‘Icehouse’ once stood is at 115 South Water Street. However, the location for Pacey’s icehouse is Elijjahs Restaurant on the Riverwalk at 2 Ann Street. Being such a huge Pacey fan, we had to eat here on the second night of our trip. We got a table overlooking the river and the food was amazing. It even started raining at one point and I had images of Joey walking towards the restaurant in episode 1 of season 6.
One Tree Hill Filming Locations
Shortly After Dawsons Creek ended, a new show arrived on the scene to try and replace the Dawson’s shaped hole in our lives. This too was shot in Wilmington and we naturally combined Two Filming Location hunting trips into one, read all about One Tree Hill filming locations here.
Have Your Say
Our 48 hours in Wilmington were a 90’s teen drama whirlwind! There are just many locations to see! Which of the locations mentioned are your favorites? Please use the comments section below to let us know! If you have any questions about Wilmington and Dawson’s Creek, please ask them in the comments section.