July 12th, 2022
We woke up in Myrtle Beach for the day I had been waiting for all trip (plus 2 years…plus 20 years actually!): We were going to Wilmington, North Carolina aka Capeside aka One Tree Hill!!
Neither of us had been particularly taken with Myrtle Beach and was looking forward to Wilmington so we left the hotel just after 9 am and drove out of Myrle Beach, stopping at IHOP for breakfast. The restaurant was fairly quiet and the menu had so many choices we struggled to choose one breakfast- but of course, this being IHOP means getting a cooked breakfast with a side of pancakes so you don’t really need to choose LOL.
Southport Marina- True Love Dock
With our tummies nicely filled and me being armed with Dawsons and OTH merch, we set off in the car for the last couple of hours to Wilmington. Our first stop planned was Southport Marina, just outside Wilmington, and the filming site for ‘True Love’ dock site. This dock was used regularly in Season 3 of Dawsons Creek as the home of Pacey’s boat ‘True Love. The most famous scene at the end of the Season 3 finale is where Joey tells Pacey she loves him and joins him on his summer sailing trip.
When we arrived, the heavens opened and a downpour occurred. We jested that you wait all your life to go somewhere and it bloody rains! Jesting aside though, we know Wilmington has tropical weather, and rain showers like this do not last long so sought shelter in Potters Seafood Market. Potters Seafood Market is the yellow hut you can see just off from the True Love dock.
We started talking to one of the owners and explained the pilgrimage trip we (mostly I) were on. She asked if there was a bus tour of U.K. tourists visiting Dawsons Creek as she had several fans come into the shop a few days earlier! I noted that a lot of people re-watched Dawsons on Netflix U.K. during the lockdown and with travel back open, people were probably just starting to visit again.
The staff in the shop were lovely and happy to chat. We definitely recommend you go in and speak to them if you are there. The seafood they had on offer looked amazing too. Being big seafood lovers, we would have loved to purchase some but we had not yet checked into our apartment so were not sure of what kitchen appliances we were going to have.
Layton Meeting Spot
Before we arrived, we had tried to plan the Dawsons Creek and One Tree Hill filming sites by location so that we could see as many as possible during our 48 hours in Wilmington. This meant that there was a One Tree Hill location nearest to us at this moment so we switched teen dramas and drove to Plantation Road, a quiet road with a large lake that just looks like the perfect place for a car to break down… Remember Episode 1 of One Tree Hill when Lucas and Peyton first meet? The side of this lake is where they filmed ‘Leyton’ meeting for the first time when he comes with the Keith Scott Motors pick up to rescue her after her car breaks down.
The lake on Plantation Road is also a perfect home for Alligators! Steve spotted one pretty close to our car so while I took the perfect insta shot, he got some shots of the gator!
As we continued our drive into Old Wilmington our next stop was the University of North Carolina Wilmington aka Capeside High. Alderman Hall is the entrance that provides the doors to Capeside High. There is a bench and plaque commemorating the filming of the series. The campus was pretty quiet as we wandered around due to the summer holidays but there was a professor on the steps of Alderman Hall who got talking to us and was there when the crew was filming.
He was happy to share his memories of what he called ‘the good times’ saying that he missed the show being on campus. Already we had come across people who lived and worked in Wilmington and enjoyed having the tv sets there and were happy to speak to fans. This was a surprise to us as previous experience had shown us otherwise! When we visited the outside of Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaws apartment in NYC in 2016, the current owner was not happy with fans outside his house and made sure he let us know!
Tree Hill High
Keeping with the high school theme, our next filming spot nearest to us was Tree Hill High, filmed at the front entrance of the Joe and Barbara Schwartz Center near downtown Wilmington. The center was closed when we arrived but we were searching for the famous white entrance used in many episodes of the show so didn’t need to go inside.
We walked around for a while, struggling to find it. We found a section of white beams along an entrance but this just didn’t feel right to me. As Steve was totally relying on my fan memory for all these spots he pulled up google to see where we were going wrong. Eventually, using his eagle eye on Google images, he found where the famous white entrance was supposed to be… and it had been covered up by a brick extension! You could see the doorway into the building, the corridor that Lucas famously carried Peyton out after the school shooting but the white structure along the outside is no longer there. Dreams of pretending to walk into Tree Hill High with Lucas Scott were thwarted!
Note – The corridor shot may look like we were in the building, but this was just shot through the window.
No time to be too disappointed though as it started raining again and we needed to get to Downton Wilmington to check into our apartment, Water Steet Retreats. Steve had really excelled his booking skills on this one! Knowing how important all the locations of my 2 favorite T.V shows were, he had booked us a place at the bottom of the riverwalk with a balcony view of the U.S North Caroline and OTH’s Rivercourt! The apartment and view were perfect for our stay, the apartment even had a bath- something that usually takes too much space in American hotel rooms!
After quickly unpacking, I loaded up WALL-E with my tv show merch and we set off to explore the historic Old Wilmington. The first location we saw was Micheal’s Restaurant on the Riverwalk aka ‘Leery’s Fish House’ from Dawsons Creek. Just past the restaurant opposite the courthouse is where Andie and Pacey had their first kiss (along with many other scenes filmed in that spot next to the river).
We ventured down the Riverwalk further to be greeted by Nathan and Hayley’s first date bench. The Bench has been preserved as a historic filming artifact and has been written all over by One Tree Hill fans visiting the site. Pre-warned by my research, I got my sharpie out of my bag and added my own stamp to the famous bench.
As we continued down the Riverwalk I felt like I was in an episode of Dawsons Creek, as the show prominently used the Riverwalk on a regular basis. After stopping to take photos of the iconic bridge in the background we headed up into the Old Historic town.
The area of ‘Old Wilmington’ right by the riverwalk mainly serves as the town of Capeside but has been used for locations of OTH too. One of the most notable locations is ‘The Black cat Shoppe’ which has served as both a CD store in Dawsons Creek and OTH- where Nathan asked Hayley for their first date. There is memorabilia from both shows on the walls and merchandise available for fans to purchase too. I had trouble deciding which t-shirts from which shows to purchase but I fell in love with a Dawsons Creek shirt with ‘Ask me to Stay’ written on it. Again, the staff in the shop were lovely and welcoming to us and were enthusiastic about tourists visiting the area.
Purchasing that shirt was clearly fate (or just well planned by myself) as the next location we found was Joey’s Wall. The wall Pacey buys her for her artwork and later writes ‘Ask me to stay when she is still wavering over her feelings for him. Now my previous research had already warned me that the wall has since had a canopy built over it. You can still see the back of the white wall though and being a huge Pacey Witter fan, I threw on the new shirt and posed for photos.
As we continued our walk around Wilmington we were starting to get hungry and I suggested we eat at Hells Kitchen. Hells Kitchen was used in Dawsons Creek in the College years when the gang moved to ‘Boston’ (spoiler: it was still Wilmington) and Joey gets a job as a Barmaid, cementing it as the group’s new hang-out spot. There are signed artwork from both shows on the wall and a special Dawsons Creek tribute booth for fans to sit at. The food was good too, it was Taco Tuesday so Shrimp tacos were $3 each. We ordered 6. Fan Girling is hungry work! Steve said following me around, watching me Fan Girl was hungry work too!
After dinner, walked towards the Corner of Grace St. and N Front St aka Karen’s cafe, and later in One Tree Hill: the location for Clothes over Bros. The main street the building is on is having major repairs and even though there was pedestrian access, the shops and cafes that run along this street are closed. You can still easily spot Karen’s Cafe though by the red detail on the outside of the building.
We then ventured back down to the Riverwalk for Sunset, taking more photos along the iconic walk…the sky really popped this evening! Before heading back to the apartment we decided to check out the local brewery Front Street and have a couple of drinks. Steve enjoyed trying the different local beers and I had a couple of the North Carolina Iced Tea (when in Rome!). It was a lovely ending to our first day in Wilmington and we headed to bed to get some rest before more film sightseeing tomorrow.
Walking Total – 13,253 Steps – 6.8 Miles
While we hadn’t really gone anywhere today the steps still clocked up and we covered a pretty hefty distance. We had really just explored the old town but when you are constantly two-ing and throwing it all adds up. However, after the exertions earlier in the trip, and our easy few days this was no problem for us at all.
Day 12 – Wilmington – One Tree Hill Filming Sites >>>