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Discover the Northeast’s Most Famous Movie Locations

The Northeast has been the backdrop for some of Hollywood's biggest hits, but you don't need a movie ticket to experience these sites.

Marshall Point Lighthouse

"Marshall Point Lighthouse" by Kay Gaensler is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

From historic towns and gilded mansions to charming seaside neighborhoods and awe-inspiring scenic landscapes, the Northeast has more than its fair share of storybook settings. Hollywood has taken notice and over the years, with more and more films using the area as the backdrops of major motion pictures.

Whether you’re a film buff yearning to trace the same steps as your favorite actors and actresses or looking to experience firsthand the sights that brought Hollywood to this corner of the country, a road trip to any of the locations will be well worth the journey.

Note: Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 crisis, please see official websites before visiting to check for restrictions or closures.

Mystic, Conn.

“Mystic Pizza”

In the 1980s, screenwriter Amy Jones was spending a summer vacation in the town of Mystic, Conn., when an unsuspecting pizza shop caught her attention. Fast-forward to 1988 and “Mystic Pizza” became a box-office smash, putting the charming coastal town on the map.

Although the restaurant scenes were not filmed in the real-life pizza parlor, several Mystic locations were used in the movie, including the Mystic Seaport. Other scenes were filmed in neighboring towns.

Visitors can still get a hot slice at Mystic Pizza but the food isn’t the only reason to visit this Connecticut town. Other must-see destinations include the Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Seaport Museum, one of the country’s preeminent maritime museums.

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Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

“Jaws”

Although the novel took place in another Northeast location (the east end of Long Island), the movie was filmed on picturesque Martha’s Vineyard. While every inch of the island is worth exploring, there are several notable locations that you’ll recognize from the film, including the American Legion Memorial Bridge between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, the port town of Menemsha Harbor and Joseph Sylvia State Beach in Oak Bluffs.

There are no bridges connecting Martha’s Vineyard to the mainland, but drivers can reach the island by utilizing one of the many ferry services available.

Salem, Mass.

“Hocus Pocus”

There’s no better setting for a witch tale than Salem, Mass. While the famous town has made appearances in a number of films, it plays a prominent role in the 1993 cult classic “Hocus Pocus.” The cast, which includes Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker, filmed at various locations throughout the historic town, such as Ropes Mansion, Salem Common, Pioneer Village, the oldest living history museum in the country, and Old Town Hall, the longest standing municipal structure in Salem.

Holderness, N.H.

“On Golden Pond”

Nestled in the heart of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, Squam Lake served as the location for the fictional Golden Pond in the Academy Award winning film. The lake is the second largest in the state and well regarded as one of the area’s most peaceful and pristine locations. Visitors can explore via canoes, kayaks, sailboats and boats, or take a guided boat tour to learn about Squam Lake natural history and look for bald eagles flying above.

Port Clyde, Maine

“Forrest Gump”

While a road trip retracing Forrest Gump’s crisscrossing run across the country sounds like the adventure of a lifetime, it’s likely you don’t have the requisite time to complete the journey. You can, however, drive to see one of the locations the iconic character visited.

After reaching the Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Ocean, Gump turns around and runs clear across the country to The Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde, Maine. Tom Hanks and the film’s crew traveled to Port Clyde, located on the southernmost end of the St. George peninsula, to film that brief scene in 1993.

The lighthouse has been standing in its current location since 1858. In 1990, a museum was opened and a few years later the Town of St. George successfully applied to receive ownership of the property. The grounds are still open to visitors daily from sunrise to sunset.

Huntington, N.Y.

Citizen Kane

Arguably the greatest film ever made, “Citizen Kane” was filmed mostly in California, but if you look closely you’ll see a few aerial glimpses of a location right in our own backyard. Long Island’s Oheka Castle was used for exterior shots of Xanadu, the fictional estate of Charles Kane.

Although it has a fairly meager role in the film, in reality, the property is anything but. The estate was the second-largest private residence ever built in America at the time of its construction roughly a century ago. Nowadays, the castle features a bar, restaurant and hotel.

saratoga race course

Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

“Seabiscuit,” “Saratoga”

Saratoga Springs, in upstate New York, is home to Saratoga Race Course, one of the most famous horse racing tracks in the country. So it would come as no surprise to learn that 2003’s “Seabiscuit,” about the famed racing horse, was filmed there. The race course was also featured in 1937’s aptly named “Saratoga” starring Clark Gable and Jean Harlow.

Races are held at the track throughout the summer and guests can also receive walking or tram tours of the historic property.

Newport, R.I.

“Great Gatsby,” “True Lies,” “Amistad,” “Heaven’s Gate”

For a small coastal town in the country’s geographically smallest state, Newport has seen more than its fair share of film crews pass through town. It helps to be home to some of the most historic and exquisite mansions in the entire country. The Newport Mansions, notably Rosecliff and Marble House, have provided the backdrop for a host of films, including “True Lies,” “Amistad,” “The Great Gatsby” and “Heaven’s Gate.”

Need a ride as you tour the historic sites in the Northeast? AAA members can save up to 20% on Hertz rentals. And up to four additional drivers (who are AAA members) can drive for free, so everyone can take turns in the driver’s seat. 

Comments
  • rick g.

    As a native New Englander from Massachusetts, it’s always fun watching some of these movies and realizing you’ve walked those very village’s street.

    Reply
  • Anne G.

    The opening scenes of “The War of the Roses” were set in Nantucket, and one scene shows what definitely looks like Nantucket’s harbor & ferry dock. Does anyone know if it was actually filmed there?

    Also, the “county fair” scenes in “Big” were filmed at Playland in Rye, NY. Not quite New England, but definitely worth a visit!

    Reply
    • Leonard H.

      The amusement park scene in Fatal Attraction was also filmed at Rye Playland.

      Reply
    • Stephanie T.

      I grew up going to Rye Playland in Rye, NY quite often and when I first watched the movie Big, I recognized the location right away!!

      Reply
  • Nancy M.

    Don’t forget “The Town,” homeboy Ben Affleck’s heist film in which
    Fenway Park was notable featured. Another Fenway flick was “Fever
    Pitch” with Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore.

    Reply
    • Helena

      Well, since “Fever Pitch” was ABOUT the Red Sox, it’s hardly surprising it was filmed at Fenway.

      Reply
  • Anthony

    Also, Meet Joe black, at the end of the movie ( Anthony Hopkins home ) was filmed just north of Newport Rhode Island at Aldrich Mansion.

    Reply
  • Norm S.

    I think that “A Civil Action” had some good Massachusets scenery. Boston, Fenway Park, etc.

    Reply
    • Denis S.

      They filmed a scene by the Quaboag River in Palmer,MA where Travolta is in the woods by the river

      Reply
  • Erico B.

    Most of the exterior shots of “Ghostbusters, Answer the Call (2016)” were shot in Boston’s Financial District. Set in NYC, but shot in Boston.

    Reply
    • Jim F.

      Some scenes were shot at my high school , the former Everett High School

      Reply
    • Yes, my walk to work at the time was from South Station to Tremont Street so I walked by the set numerous times. Even raided the crafts table once when no one was around!

      Reply
  • You forgot a very important one. “Peyton Place” was filmed in Camden, Maine.

    Reply
  • Pat G.

    There must have been 1,000s of movies filmed in NYC. The most notable that come to mind are: Moonstruck, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve got Mail.

    Reply
  • Suzette

    “The Finest Hour” with Chris Pine, was filmed in Marshfield and the Cape. “The Judge” was filmed in Buckland and Shelburne, Massachusetts, as was “Labor Day”.

    Reply
  • Lest we not forget…
    Shelburne Falls – the movies “The Judge” & “Labor Day”, as well as the new season of “Dexter”
    Orange – Hulu series “Castle Rock”

    Reply
  • Peggy B.

    The Reincarnation of Peter Proud was filmed in Holyoke, MA with scenes shot at Forest Lake in Palmer,

    Reply
  • The Departed and Gone Baby Gone both had scenes shot in the Boston area.

    Reply
  • Don’t forget Shelburne Falls, Ma home of the Bridge of Flowers and Trolly Museum! The Judge, Dexter and Labor Day were all filmed there!

    Reply
  • The hysterically funny Post Office scenes in the Men in Black film series label the PO in “Truro, MA” but are actually filmed at a lighthouse in Provincetown MA, one town over.

    Reply
  • Anne F.

    Also, parts of Deeds with Adam Sandler was filmed in New Milford, CT

    Reply
  • Robert G.

    I’m surprised you forgot the movie “Hachi” with Richard Gere which mostly filmed at the Woonsocket Depot in Rhode Island along with scenes in Bristol.It wasn’t shown in theaters ,but was popular world wide.We saw it on board a Princess cruise ship on our way to Hawaii.

    Reply
  • Andrea P.

    There are several sites much closer to the NYC area. A lot of shows are filmed in Nyack, New York (JACK RYAN) and Piermont New York (Woody Allen’s Purple Rose of Cairo) was filmed in the latter

    Reply
  • Easton, MA for Knives Out, Taunton for Shutter Island, and Boston is not listed, why? And BTW, in 1981 Sidney Poitier used the New England Aquarium as a filming location for a movie he directed, says someone who was an extra in a scene with Gilda Radner. Here are more Massachusetts locations – https://mafilm.org/made-in-mass/

    Reply
  • John S.

    In the movie Clear History with Larry David, there’s plenty of scenes shot in Massachusetts but one place in particular that sticks out with me is the scene where Larry is having breakfast in a small local roadside diner. The diner: Farnham’s on RT 133 in Essex MA, right on a coastal marshland, was a favorite haunt of ours.

    Reply
  • Was on Martha’s Vineyard that summer they were filming JAWS; watched them film the scene at the bridge. Of course none of us had any idea at the time just how huge the movie would be.

    Reply
  • Suzette

    “The Way Way Back” with Steve Carell and Toni Collette was filmed all over the South Shore, in Massachusetts. “Moonrise Kingdom” was filmed in Rhode Island.

    Reply
  • Vince d.

    You left out the kingpin of movie locations. Marty- shot mostly in the Bronx- 187th Street, Jerome Av. A real winner and true taste of cinematic Bronx.

    Reply
    • Jerry A.

      great point; I always favored the Steiger/Marchand live TV version, but Borgnine’s portrayal is every bit as dynamic (and as you say, there’s a taste of the bronx to boot).

      Reply
  • Michael L.

    “Before and After,” with Meryl Streep has a beautiful shot of the center of Lee, MA, and the surrounding area, including shots at Hillcrest Hospital and St. Charles Church in Pittsfield, Mass. “Pretty Poison” in 1968, Anthony Perkins can be seen walking up Main Street in Great Barrington, MA. “Malice” with Nichole Kidman was filmed throughout Northampton, Mass. The Arlo Guthrie classic “Alice’s Restaurant” was filmed in several southern Berkshire communities in MA.

    Reply

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