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Can You Visit Dawson’s Creek in Real Life?

Dawson’s Creek was set in an idyllic seaside town, but did you know you can visit many of these picturesque locations today? 

That’s right. More than 25 years after the show’s premiere, many of these film sets are still recognizable. Even better, they’re open for business.

We know where to go if you want to stroll the boardwalks where the drama played out. 

Let’s explore.

About Dawson’s Creek

Dawson’s Creek captured hearts around the country. This teen drama centers around the lives of teens in the small town of Capeside.

It follows aspiring filmmaker Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek) and his best friend and love interest, Joey Potter (Katie Holmes), as they transition from adolescence to adulthood. Raging hormones and budding sexuality lead to high drama and polarizing situations. And everyone watching had a strong opinion about who should get the girl. 

The show ran for six seasons that you can still binge today on Hulu, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime. 

Where Is the Real Location of Dawson’s Creek?

Capeside is a fictional town, but you can visit many filming locations from Dawson’s Creek in coastal Wilmington, North Carolina. 

It lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River. The downtown riverfront has plenty of shops, restaurants, and a thriving nightlife scene. It’s highly walkable, which is perfect for events like Riverfest and the North Carolina Azalea Festival. 

The National Register of Historic Places designated 230 blocks as one of the largest historic districts in the south. Fortunately, many of these preserved buildings appeared in Dawson’s Creek.

Pro Tip: Take a day trip from Wilmington to visit these 7 Amazing Waterfalls in North Carolina.

Wilmington, North Carolina
Dawson’s Creek was filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Best Dawson’s Creek Set Locations to Visit

Many prominent locations from Dawson’s Creek maintain their 90s charm today. We’ve put together a few highlights of this charming seaside town.

Wilmington Riverwalk

Many scenes from the show feature docks and boardwalks along the water’s edge. These mostly took place at the Wilmington Riverwalk. If you have a keen eye, you might spot the site of Pacey and Andie’s first kiss at the bottom of Market Street. 

The Riverwalk is one of the most popular attractions. You can stop at some of the 200 restaurants, shops, and art galleries along the river. If you want to cast a line, you can visit Conlon Pier. Or simply meander through the marinas and admire the boats.

UNC Wilmington

The UNC Wilmington campus served as the iconic Capeside High School. In line with the aesthetic of Dawson’s Creek, the location is lush and serene. Of course, this contrasts the high drama that took place here.

You can stroll the grounds and enjoy the architecture or take in a performance at the Sarah Graham Kenan Auditorium. Whatever you choose to do here will probably give you flashbacks to your adolescence.

Elijah’s Restaurant

Pacey’s Icehouse becomes a prominent location in the later seasons of Dawson’s Creek. But these scenes were filmed at an actual establishment called Elijah’s Restaurant. Business is still booming at Elijah’s, so you’ll want to stop in for a drink or a bite.

Set locations for The Icehouse changed over the years, but Elijah’s is our top choice for soaking up a bit of nostalgia. 

Pro Tip: Want to ditch Wilmington for Asheville? These are 5 Reasons to Avoid Asheville, North Carolina.

Best Places to Stay in Wilmington

You’ll need more than an afternoon to take in everything Wilmington offers. Whether you’re RVing or looking for all the perks of a high-end hotel, we’ve got you covered. 

Carolina Beach State Park

Carolina Beach State Park has plenty of pads for RV and car campers. The grounds are shady and wooded, with plenty of space for each campsite. 

Most spots are ideal for dry camping. Only a few sites have hookups, so if you want to use them, you should reserve a spot before your visit. 

We’ve also heard that the gate locks at closing time. Unless you don’t mind sleeping on the side of the road, we suggest calling to confirm their hours before it gets late.

Graystone Inn

You might recognize the Graystone Inn as another filming location from Dawson’s Creek. This stately B&B is among the US’s Top 10 Most Romantic Inns. 

The historic building dates to the early 1900s, but recent renovations modernized the space. The rooms are bright and luxurious, but the dining room and library maintain the grandeur of the early twentieth century. 

Blockade Runner Beach Resort

The Blockade Runner Beach Resort might be your speed if you want more excitement. This hotel sits between the Atlantic Ocean and Banks Channel on Wrightsville Beach. Guests can swim, kayak, paddleboard, sail, and more on either side of the resort.

A charming seaside garden overlooks the beach. You can enjoy a meal at the award-winning restaurant or grab a cold drink at the poolside bar. They also have all the amenities you’d expect, like a pool, hot tub, and sauna.

The rooms are decorated in a beachy, art-deco style but include all the modern comforts you want in a high-end hotel. 

Relive Your Favorite Dawson’s Creek Moments on Location

This teen drama is one of those shows that evokes a sense of nostalgia. Even the theme song brings that angsty feeling we loved so much. And the town of Wilmington feels like a time machine. The charming quaintness makes visitors feel right at home. And there’s no shortage of activities to enjoy! 

If you can’t make it to the North Carolina location now, you can put on the first season of Dawson’s Creek and relive a bit of your youth.

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