Since 1983, more than 400 film-related projects have been filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina’s Historic River District and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville beach. The region is often affectionately referred to as “Hollywood East.” DAWSON’S CREEK, Sony Pictures Television’s popular hour-long drama that airs on The WB and other cable stations, is among the many productions made in this region. Filmed in historic Wilmington and nearby island beaches (Wrightsville, Carolina, Kure) and Southport, North Carolina, DAWSON’S CREEK chronicles with wry humor the undeniably intense period of awakening known as the teenage years. A startlingly fresh and realistic portrayal of this passage from adolescence to young adulthood, "Dawson's Creek" wrapped its sixth and final season in 2003. On the show, the Wilmington region doubles as “Capeside,” a small fictitious coastal town in Massachusetts, as well as for other locales. During the show's fifth and sixth seasons (2001-2003), filming also took place in the Durham and Raleigh, North Carolina.
DAWSON’S CREEK starred six of Hollywood’s brightest young stars: James Van Der Beek, (Rules of Attraction, Varsity Blues); Katie Holmes (First Daughter, Pieces of April, Wonder Boys); Michelle Williams (Me Without You, Dick, Prozac Nation); and Joshua Jackson (The Laramie Project, The Mighty Ducks trilogy, Skulls); Kerr Smith (Final Destination); and Busy Phillipps (“Cougar Town,” Freaks & Geeks).
The show was created by NC native Kevin Williamson (Scream; Scream II; I Know What You Did Last Summer; Teaching Mrs. Tingle). DAWSON’S CREEK is loosely based on Williamson's real-life experiences growing up in rural North Carolina. Fans of DAWSON’S CREEK can watch the show and see familiar sights of Wilmington and the island beaches when it airs on television. The series is now available on DVD and lives on in syndication. Paul Stupin, Tom Kapinos and Greg Prange were executive producers of DAWSON’S CREEK for Sony Pictures Television.
From 2003 until 2011 another WB television series, “One Tree Hill,” filmed in Wilmington. In 2005, NBC’s one-season sci-fi series “Surface” lensed in Wilmington. The HBO series “Eastbound & Down,” NBC’s “Revolution,” (season 1) and FOX’s series “Sleepy Hollow” (seasons 1 & 2). The CBS series “Under the Dome” and TNT's "Good Behavior" (seasons 1 & 2) also filmed in Wilmington and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach.
Frequently Asked Questions about DAWSON’S CREEK:
1. Can I see the show being filmed?
DAWSON’S CREEK wrapped its final season in April 2003. DC sets are no longer in use or available to the public. However, EUE/Screen Gems Studios (1223 N. 23rd Street), the largest production facility east of Hollywood, still hosts visiting productions. Weekend studio tours are not available during 2017/18, however when they are available they often include sets from current productions. For information on weekend studio tours, visit http://studios.euescreengems.com/nc/tours/ (Please keep in mind that production schedules sometimes change and may affect tour/set availability. Prior to your visit, please call the tours hotline at 910-343-3433 to confirm tour dates/times.) Visitors can also experience Wilmington’s film history via a guided walking tour of downtown movie locations. The Hollywood Location Walk of Old Wilmington (www.hollywoodnc.com) includes some of the locations used in ONE TREE HILL and DAWSON’S CREEK and other films and TV shows, including more recent productions.
2. Self-guided Tour: Filming also took place at various locations in Wilmington and the island beaches. You'll see familiar sites along the Cape Fear Riverwalk (located at the foot of Market Street) and Riverfront Park (Water Street, across from the Alton Lennon Federal Courthouse – where Andie and 2 Pacey first kissed). Fans are welcome to take a self-guided tour of businesses and attractions in Wilmington’s Downtown Historic District that are frequently used as locations, including: Riverboat Landing (2 Market St.--appears as a coffeehouse); Island Passage Elixir (4 Market St.--the boutique in the episode “Full Moon Rising”); Black Cat Shoppe (8 Market St., a Capeside CD shop); Kabob Grill & Café (5 S. Water St.-- Leery's Fresh Fish); the Riverfront Visitor Information Booth (riverside at Market and Water streets -- appeared as a hot dog stand and as a snack bar); Blue Post Billiards (15 S. Water St.--must be 21 to enter); Reel Café (100 S. Front St.); Buzz’s Roost Restaurant (15 S. Front St.--where Joey made her singing debut); Elijah’s Restaurant (2 Ann St.); “Platypus & Gnome” (9 S. Front St., various episodes); Pender's Luncheonette (205 N. Front St.); and N Salo (212 N. Front St., former location of Screen Play Video--Pacey’s after-school workplace); The Cotton Exchange (300 N. Front St.) parking lot and courtyard. The Schwartz Center at Cape Fear Community College (610 N. Front St.) appeared as a film festival lobby. "Hell's Kitchen" (118 Princess Street) was a temporary set that is now a pub with the same name. At Third and Princess streets is historic Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts (310 Chestnut Street--interior of the “Rialto Theatre”) and the Historic New Hanover County Courthouse (24 N. Third Street--train station interior). A few blocks south on Third Street is the historic Graystone Inn (100 S. 3rd Street).
Locations outside the Historic District, but worth the drive: Just across the river, there’s Battleship Park (on Eagle’s Island, beside the Battleship NC--site of “The Winter Fair” in the “Psychic Friends” episode). Other filming locations in New Hanover County include: Airlie Gardens (Airlie Rd., 2 mi. west of Wrightsville Beach); New Hanover County Arboretum (6206 Oleander Dr.—where Jen said her final episode ‘goodbye’); Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park (5320 Oleander Dr.--filmed in the main arcade and in Big Splash Café); UNC-Wilmington (601 S. College Road--doubled as the Capeside High School campus); Kenan Auditorium (UNCW campus, 601 S. College Rd.); Greenfield Lake (1702 Burnett Blvd.--appears as “Burham Lake” in the show); Banks Channel (across from Blockade Runner Resort) and various docks at Wrightsville Beach, among other locations, including the Dockside Restaurant (1308 Airlie Rd.--appeared as "The Icehouse" when the camera was facing the water). On Pleasure Island, the Carolina Beach Marina (the Winner Queen--at Carl Winner Blvd.), Carolina Beach Boardwalk (Carolina Blvd.) and Carolina Beach State Park (off Hwy. 421 S.) in Carolina Beach appeared in the show's early episodes. The beach around the Kure Beach Fishing Pier (K Ave. off Fort Fisher Blvd.) doubled as the Maine coastline during season 5; and in season 6, the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher (900 Loggerhead Rd., Kure Beach) stood in as the New England Aquarium in Boston. The Cape Fear Shoals exhibit with its quarter-million gallon saltwater tank doubles as "Cape Cod Shoals." Filming has also taken place at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site (1610 Fort Fisher Blvd. S., Kure Beach) and the Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry (Ft. Fisher Blvd. S.). The quaint village of Southport (30 mi. south of Wilmington) is also used as a location.
3. How can I see movie/TV stars?
During filming of a movie or television production, security is very tight both on location and at the studios. The only way to see the stars in person is a chance celebrity sighting at a public place such as a restaurant, shopping mall, boutique, video store, etc. Although TV and movie stars appreciate their fans, please respect their privacy.
4. Where can I buy DAWSON’S CREEK memorabilia?
TV/film souvenirs (including some Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill memorabilia) can be purchased in Wilmington at the Black Cat Shoppe (8 Market St., Wilmington; 910-251-6663); Krazy Mike’z (1 N. Front St., Wilmington; 910-632-2806); and Poodle's Island Wear (18 S. Water Street, Wilmington; 910-763-4523). Or you may order DVDs, music and photographs at www.dawsonscreek.com.
5. How can I find out more about the show and its stars?
You may visit the Official DAWSON’S CREEK website at www.dawsonscreek.com. 3
6. How can I be an extra on a TV show or movie?
Several Wilmington-based casting companies casts extras for local productions. If you’re interested in being an extra or have other questions about film production in Wilmington, please check the Wilmington Film Office website Frequently Asked Question page at www.wilmingtonfilm.com/Intro/FAQ/tabid/65/Default.aspx. Before visitors travel any distance to be an extra they are encouraged to check the website and contact casting companies directly to find out about casting needs and employment requirements.
Info about recent productions can be found on our Hollywood East page at https://www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com/things-to-do/tours-and-cruises/famous-film-and-tv-sites/. For more info about Wilmington, NC’s historic river district and island beaches (where DAWSON’S CREEK was filmed) please call 1-866-266-9690, or stop by the year-round Visitor Information Center located at 505 Nutt Street, Unit A, in downtown Wilmington, or the Riverfront Visitors Booth (April-October) at the foot of Market Street. You may also visit the Wilmington and Beaches website at www.GoWilmingtonAndBeaches.com. NOTE: Tours and individual businesses are individually operated. Hours of operation, fees and availability subject to change without notice.