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Famous Movie Locations You Can Visit in Boston

One of the best ways to spend your time in New England might be visiting movie locations around Boston. The scenic city has been used as a set for nearly 100 motion pictures.

But what are some of these must-see sites, and can you check them out yourself?

Luckily, we have all the details about which films were shot where, and how you can visit them.

Let’s roll!

Boston, Massachusetts, USA city skyline at the harbor.
Boston, Massachusetts, is a prime location for movie fans to visit.

Directors have selected Boston as a movie location for over 100 years. The city’s historic architecture and scenic river make it an ideal backdrop for the silver screen. Buildings like the Old State House and the Old North Church have stood for over 100 years, and Boston’s narrow streets lined with brick and brownstone buildings give it a unique feel. 

Filmmakers choose to shoot in Boston not just for its picturesque scenery but also because of its distinctive personality. Residents of Boston have deep ties to Irish-Catholic culture as portrayed in movies like The Departed and The Fighter. Classic New England films that truly capture the city’s character usually feature stars from the area, like Matt Damon or Ben Affleck.

Another reason that filmmakers flock to Boston is for the tax credits. If the movie’s production value exceeds $50,000, it can be exempt from sales tax. The MA Film Office also details that movies shot in Boston can receive a 25% credit for payroll and production.

Between the state’s tax incentives and the city’s unique charm, it’s no surprise that directors select Boston for their box office hits. 

Pro Tip: Want to go for a sail while in Boston? Find out just How Many Islands are in Boston Harbor?

Harvard Square Movie Location

The historic district of Harvard Square has been a neighborhood hub since its founding in 1630. At the time, colonists called the area Newstone. About 200 years later, locals coined its current name because this intersection separated Boston’s business district from its university area.

Today, you can hop on the subway from Harvard Square, run errands at the CVS, or grab a bite to eat at one of the local establishments. Additionally, the surrounding area houses the Harvard Art and Natural History Museums. 

Many movies have been shot on location in Boston’s Harvard Square, most famously in Good Will Hunting. You can see the main characters grabbing a bite from Tasty Sandwich Shop. Other films with scenes shot at this location include The Paperchase and The Town

Boston Public Garden Bench

Established in 1837, the Boston Public Garden is considered the first public botanical garden in the US. Amongst the plants, you can enjoy statues and a scenic lagoon and even take a tour via a swan boat. Even better, the 24-acre garden offers free admission and remains open 365 days a year. The beautiful scenery of this space has resulted in its use in several films. 

You might’ve seen Mark Wahlberg’s character in Ted cruising on the swan boats with his teddy bear. Maybe you’ve seen the 2020 flick Love, Weddings & Other Disasters, with scenes filmed in the botanical garden. 

Many visitors want to see one place in particular, the bench where Robin Williams delivers a monologue in Good Will Hunting. This might be one of the most beloved movie locations in Boston. Try typing “Good Will Hunting bench” into Google Maps for precise directions to the spot. 

Boston’s Cheers Restaurant Film Location

After you visit the public gardens, you can grab a drink right across the street. Try going somewhere where everybody knows your name. While Cheers isn’t technically a movie, we still think this famous watering hole deserves a place on this list. 

Producers for the show wandered the streets of Boston searching for a typical American bar and landed on this spot.

The show didn’t film at this location but used a photo of the exterior Cheers on Beacon Hill on TV. This bar started receiving increasing foot traffic when the show took off, so they built a replica of the set inside. You can’t visit the actual filming location, but we think this should be considered the next best thing.

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Movie Location at the Iconic Fenway Park

Sports lovers will probably really enjoy this location. Catch a Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park, and you’ll also be visiting an iconic movie location. At over 110 years old, this stadium can be considered the oldest in the nation. 

You can also see soccer, football, and hockey, depending on the time of year you visit. The US Grand Prix Tour even hosted a big air ski contest at Fenway Park in 2016. Several concerts have also taken place here, including famous artists like Lady Gaga and Guns N’ Roses.

Some of the films that take place at the park include Fever Pitch, starring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon, as well as Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones. More recently, it’s been featured in Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Patriots Day

Beacon Hill Movie Location in Boston

The historic Massachusetts State House, built in 1798, sits atop Beacon Hill. In the 1600s, colonists used the high point as a lookout to watch for invasions. The hill’s surrounding affluent neighborhood features Federal-style row houses and brick sidewalks. This residential area includes Boston Common and the Public Garden. 

Consider taking a walk in this area to get a good look at the historic buildings and streets. You can even take a film-location walking tour for a guided experience of Boston’s famous movie sites.

Several directors have selected the aesthetic neighborhood for filming because it truly captures the city’s character. It’s depicted in the 1968 films The Thomas Crown Affair and The Boston Strangler. The 2014 movie The Equalizer, and Spartan, a flick from 2004, also feature shots set in this neighborhood.

Boston’s Film Locations will Reel you in!

This northeastern city has an endless list of things to do and places to explore. We love narrowing down our options when traveling by looking up film spots, and usually, we find these locations beautiful and fun to explore. And movie locations in Boston are no different.

Whether you catch a ball game or stroll through the garden, we think you’ll have a grand time in Beantown! Remember to keep your eyes peeled for familiar sites. You never know what cinematic treasure lies around the next corner.

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