For a while now, I have been planning a trip to visit Tree Hill. Of course, Tree Hill isn’t a real place. Instead, it’s a fictional town in one of my favorite tv shows. So that makes it real to me. It’s a special place in my heart because metaphorically some of my favorite memories and best lessons learned took place in Tree Hill. It helped me through my first years of college. It helped me cope with a tough breakup. It taught me to not gain my value from the labels people place on me. It encouraged me to be a woman confident in my abilities. It helped me believe in love, whether that be with a boy, a parent, or a friend. It taught me the power of forgiveness, and to never give up on someone. Tree Hill is home to me in a way. And if you’ve never seen the show, I encourage you to just try it out. Get past the cheesy story lines and over the top characters at first, and you’ll grow to love it.
So anyway, One Tree Hill… I love the show and I’m really dorky when it comes to shows I love. I’m one of those people who gets obsessed with pop culture and annoy all my friends with my constant raving about the best new show or the five star movie that’s in theatres. So naturally, I had to go tour the filming locations of One Tree Hill. It’s a good thing my mom is pop culture crazed too, because she indulged my obsession and traveled with me to Wilmington, North Caroline, otherwise known as Tree Hill. (She hasn’t even seen most of the show, and she still loved it!)
Step One. Google articles from people who visited the set and posted all the locations they visited. My mom and I did a lot of research prior to our trip in order to make plans of what locations we wanted to see. Most articles we found had all the addresses listed for the locations, so all we had to do was put the address in our GPS and let it take us! We were very thankful for the genius invention of GPS. I would tell you the websites we used to find the locations, but now that I’m writing this all you have to do is read on to figure out all the details 🙂
Step two. Book a cheap bed and breakfast. Wilmington is such a cool little town. It is full of historical buildings and old houses. We could have taken the easy road and booked a Comfort Inn or even a hotel on the beach (which is about fifteen minutes from Wilmington). But we wanted/needed to be a little cheaper, so we saved money by looking on Airbnb and finding a quaint bed and breakfast. It was about $70 per night versus a hotel that was $100 or more.
Step three. Put some extra spending money aside for One Tree Hill apparel. We had heard there were plenty of souvenir shops in Wilmington that sold One Tree Hill shirts, sweatshirts, hats, stickers, coffee mugs, etc. I made sure I had a little money to buy me a Clothes Over Bros shirt. (Then I couldn’t help myself and also bought a Tree Hill Ravens, Lucas Scott jersey.)
Step four. Plan to go to the beach while you’re there. Like I said, the Wrightsville beach was only about fifteen minutes away from our hotel. We went ahead and planned to spend a whole day on the beach while we took a break from Tree Hill sightings. It was so nice, except for the parking situation so make sure you leave early in the morning to find a parking spot and have some extra money since parking costs there. Fun fact though if you’re still wanting to find One Tree Hill easter eggs at the beach: there were several cool filming spots on the various beaches surrounding Wilmington. For example, the beach house often seen in the show is there, as well as Haley and Nathan’s original wedding spot found at Fort Fisher beach.
Step five. Get on the road and have fun! Get excited to step inside the world of Tree Hill!
Now that you’re all set on how to plan your One Tree Hill vacation, here are all the AWESOME places we found and some tips on how to get the best experience out of them.
1. The Tree Hill Bridge
Seen in the credits with Lucas Scott bouncing a basketball with “I don’t wanna be anything other than what I’ve been trynna be lately…” playing over it, you’ll drive right over this bridge coming into Wilmington. Don’t confuse it with the famous bridge that the limo crashed over into the water. That’s a different one we couldn’t find, but this bridge is still cool!
2. Peyton Sawyer’s house – 1901 Chestnut Street
This was right around the corner from the bed and breakfast we stayed at, so we practically were neighbors. The house looks the same except for the pretty trees in front and the fact that in the show the house seemed a lot more secluded. There’s me pointing at the window Psycho Derek was thrown out of.
3. Haley James’ house – 1811 Chestnut Street
This house was surprisingly right next to P. Sawyer’s house, which of course you don’t realize in the show. Haley didn’t stay in this house for very long, but it’s still the spot where she and Nathan first kissed. I was pretty excited about that.
4. Brooke Davis’ house – 2314 Tattersalls Drive
This was definitely the house I was most excited about. I aspire to be like B. Davis in every single way, so you could call it an obsession. The house was just as beautiful in person and was located in a neighborhood full of huge houses. You can’t miss hers though because it still has the red door. In fact, the owners of the house painted it back red because of all the fans constantly looking for their house. Anna and Felix’s house is right next door too, but who cares about them, right?
5. Lucas and Karen Scott’s house – 1829 Wrightsville Avenue
I loved this house because it really looks exactly the same as it did in the show. It’s in the middle of a smaller and tighter neighborhood, but their house is just so cute. You can tell the owners are a little irritated with the fans coming on their property, because they have several signs telling you to respect them. But I had to sneak a pic on the porch Lucas and his mom are always having deep conversations. Just don’t go peering in their windows of course!
6. Nathan Scott’s house – 1621 Country Club Road
Nathan’s house was a popular place for fights with him and his awful dad, Deb yelling at Dan in the driveway, and occasional high school parties. The house is located in a wealthy neighborhood, right down the road from the country club.
7. Nathan and Haley’s apartment – 4395 Birchwood Park Drive
This is where Nathan and Haley first moved when they were married, and later in the series the apartment was tossed around to people like Brooke. Their apartment was in 4395. I couldn’t figure out which room was exactly theirs, but it was still pretty awesome.
8. Keith Scott’s Body Shop – 1901 Covil Avenue
This location wasn’t hard to find. It’s about a street over from Haley and Nathan’s apartment complex, and it looks exactly the same (minus the Keith Scott Body Shop signs). The people working there were so nice. They came outside and immediately recognized us as One Tree Hill fans, and took our picture! There was also a basketball goal, so we imagined Lucas and Keith shooting some hoops together.
9. The Riverwalk
The Riverwalk is not only a popular place in Tree Hill, but it’s popular in Wilmington too. It’s located in the downtown area and it’s easy to find. The Riverwalk in Tree Hill is seen often in early seasons when Lucas and Haley are hanging out, or for town events like the Burning Boat. Right across the river is where The Rivercourt once was, but it’s been stripped down sadly. Along the Riverwalk, you can find a lot of good restaurants, ice cream parlors, and shops like Poodles with One Tree Hill goodies and The Black Cat Shoppe that once was the cd shop in the show.
10. The Naley Bench
Known for their first tutoring session when she went behind Lucas’ back but found true love!! It’s where Nathan handed her a bracelet from a cracker jack box and said, “Don’t say I never gave you anything.” There are actually a lot of these picnic tables so we just picked one. Despite the construction happening around them, we made the best out of it!
11. The Dixie Grill – 116 Market Street
Found along the Riverwalk, this restaurant was yummy and a part of One Tree Hill. The Dixie Grill is the restaurant used as the diner Brooke’s foster child Sam always hung out at. She and Sam had many interactions there, and she and Julian ate together there a few times. We found a booth that was seen in a lot of episodes, and I felt just like B. Davis!
12. The original Karen’s Cafe/Tree Hill Cafe – 300 North Front Street
The building is now a coffee chain called Port City Java, but the inside still looks pretty similar to the Karen’s Cafe seen in the pilot. It was used for the pilot episode, but then they moved to the location right next door. Later in the series, Tara opens up a rival coffee shop of Brooke’s newly opened Karen’s Cafe. That coffee shop, Tree Hill Cafe, was shot at this building.
13. Karen’s Cafe/Clothes Over Bros – Corner of Grace St & N Front St
The building looks a little different now, because they have added more windows instead of the doors seen on the tv show, but it’s still easily recognizable. This tall yellow building was used for Karen’s Cafe in most of the series, and then Brooke later opened Clothes Over Bros there as well.
14. Tree Hill City Hall – Corner of Third Street and Chestnut Street
We couldn’t really figure out where the steps used in the show were, but we were still proud of ourselves for finding it. The City Hall was seen several times in the show when Mayor Dan Scott gave press releases. The building looked like it was used as Wilmington’s city hall as well as a performing arts center.
15. Brooke and Julian’s wedding spot – Grace United Methodist Church
The church is so beautiful in person and is a familiar location in the series. Of course, I loved it because Brooke and Julian were married there (swoon!!), but it’s also where Lucas almost married Lindsey and Crazy Carrie kidnaps Jamie. Not cool, Crazy Carrie.
16. TRIC – 1121 South Front Street
Tric was one of my favorite places. You wouldn’t think so, because it’s really just an abandoned brick building that they added a staircase to. But all over the bricks, OTH fans had written quotes, messages, and love notes to their favorite characters.
17. Tree Hill High School – Cape Fear Community College (Shwartz Center)
My favorite part of our self guided tour was finding the filming locations for the school. It took us a while to find the exterior of Tree Hill High, but once we came across it we knew what it was. They used only a small part of a building at the community college, then added a school sign and photoshopped in the tall glass building. But the white columns and walkway leading to the school doors was unmistakable. Common scenes filmed here were Prom, the school shooting, and lots of convos between Peyton, Brooke, Lucas, Haley, and Nathan.
18. Tree Hill High School Gymnasium – Laney High School
Okay, now this was the coolest thing ever. We really wanted to see the gym the Ravens played in, so we figured out on this really detailed website that it was filmed at Laney High School. By the way, Michael Jordan played high school basketball here (WHAT?!). So the gym is named Michael Jordan Gymnasium. We discovered that Lucas Scott is number 23 because Michael Jordan is number 23, so that’s cool. When we got to the high school, construction workers were building a brand new gym funded by Michael Jordan, but of course they’re keeping the old gym for historic reasons. We went on a Monday hoping they were having workouts or something, but it was locked. I was not going down without a fight, so I went inside and talked to the sweet secretary. I explained to her my road trip and she called the custodian to open it for us. He was so nice and gave us all kinds of information about the gym. It still looked pretty much the same with the same blue colors, just a little older. If you ever go on a Tree Hill tour, make sure you go get into this gym! Visiting during the week in the Summertime is probably your best bet.
My trip to Tree Hill was so special and fun. I truly felt like I was a part of the show, from visiting Karen’s Cafe, to spotting Brooke Davis’ red door, to being a student for the day at Tree Hill High. Plus, I am now officially a Clothes Over Bros customer. There’s only one Tree Hill, and I so happy I got to visit.