Movie and TV Tour of Charleston
Charleston has been the site of many Hollywood movies. You might even feel as though you’ve been here before (maybe in another lifetime?).
If you’ve seen the movies “The Notebook,” “Dear John,” “The Patriot,” you’ve seen Hollywood’s version of Charleston! And yes, of course the TV show “Southern Charm” is filmed here, though we hate to break it to you: much of that “reality” show is staged.
Cue: woman clutching her pearls.
While you’re visiting, you might even recognize a few Charleston sites made famous to the rest of the world by these 9 movies.
American Theater — “The Notebook”
Even if you don’t recognize the American Theater from “The Notebook,” you’ll still get a kick out of the retro marquis. This theater opened back in 1942 and is a prime example of Art Moderne architecture (often confused with Art Deco; it’s similar, but not quite the same).
This King Street theater is where Nicholas Sparks’ somewhat star-crossed lovers go on their first date.
Don’t expect to re-enact Allie and Noah’s date here, though. The theater no longer shows moves and instead has been transformed into an event space.
The College of Charleston & Folly Beach Pier — “Dear John”
Yes, Nicholas Sparks set many of his novels in Charleston — but can you blame him? This city is just about as romantic as it gets. Travel + Leisure Magazine even named Charleston as the U.S.’s most romantic city.
If you’re a huge Nicholas Sparks fan, you won’t want to stop stalking the filming sites for his movies at the American Theater. Instead, head up to The College of Charleston to see where scenes from “Dear John” were filmed. When you’re finished, head over to the Folly Beach Pier to check out John’s and Savannah’s meeting spot — the perfect spot for your own meet cute.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort — “Legend of Bagger Vance”
Not a fan of Will Smith movies? It’s OK, we won’t hold it against you. But whether you love golf, beautiful scenery or are just a Will Smith movie buff, you should head to Kiawah Island to the Kiawah Island Resort.
This is where many scenes from “Legend” were filmed (you’ll recognize it immediately). It also happens to be a beautiful scenic spot. It’s also rated one of the best golf courses in the U.S.
Boone Hall, College of Charleston & Meeting Street – “The Patriot”
Mel Gibson’s Revolutionary War movie was a hit when it was released in 2000. Following a widowed farmer who avoids the war, the movie is about family, fighting for your country and the peace we all seek.
This movie was filmed all over Charleston, so you can check out several spots. First, head up to Boone Hall for the day to visit the plantation’s grounds — where many exterior scenes were shot. Then make your way back into the city for a stop at the College of Charleston — where many of the movies on this list were filmed. (Pst: it’s also the oldest municipal college in the U.S.) Finally, you can head right down to Meeting Street to get an idea of what Charleston looked like back in the 1700s (well, mostly anyway).
Park Circle Neighborhood — “Vice Principals”
“Vice Principals” didn’t get a very long run (only two seasons), but it has a cult following. If you happen to be one of those die-hard fans, head up to the Park Circle neighborhood in Northern Charleston where much of the show was filmed.
Ravenel Bridge — “Die Hard With a Vengeance”
OK, technically it wasn’t the Ravenel Bridge in “Die Hard With a Vengeance.” Mostly because the Ravenel didn’t open until June 2005; “Die Hard With a Vengeance” was released in 1995 — back when the Old Cooper River Bridges still stood.
While the old bridges weren’t demolished until 2007 (two years after the opening of the Ravenel Bridge), the Grace Memorial Bridge was unusable since the 1970s, and the Pearlman Bridge couldn’t ease the flow of traffic between Downtown Charleston and Mount Pleasant.
The defunct Grace Memorial Bridge was the perfect spot to film the scene where Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson jump from a bridge onto a shipping container (though the movie was set in New York and Connecticut). The crew simply filmed the scene from the Pearlman Bridge.
Magnolia Cemetery, Military Magnet Academy & Danny Jones Complex Armory — “Halloween 2018”
It’s a wonder that more scary movies aren’t filmed in Charleston. For one, the city is super haunted. It’s full of old cemeteries. And the weather stays mild year-round — perfect for filming.
The film scouts for the “Halloween” released in 2018 sure knew this. If you head to Magnolia Cemetery, you’ll be at the site of the graveyard scene. You can also head to the Military Magnet Academy to check out where the prison scene was filmed (the academy’s stark architecture was perfect for this movie!).
Finally, if you’re a die-hard fan of “Halloween,” head up to the Danny Jones Complex Armory, otherwise known as Haddonfield High School.
College of Charleston – “O”
Tim Blake Nelson’s redo of the famous Shakespeare play “Othello” was also filmed in Charleston — most of the school scenes were filmed at the College of Charleston. Legend has it that the college campus looks like it could be set in England, which is why the film scouts chose this site.
The movie depicts teen and high school violence in the late 1990s.
Bay Street & Beaufort River — “Prince of Tides”
It doesn’t get more classic Hollywood than the movie “Prince of Tides.” Fans of this Barbara Streisand and Nick Nolte movie won’t be able to visit Charleston without a trip to Bay Street — where Tom Wingo’s mother lived in the movie.
If you have a little extra time, you might want to take a day trip to Beaufort, South Carolina, where most of the movie was filmed. Beaufort is on the way to Savannah, another perfect city for day tripping.