Our mission was to find the best Boston movie locations in just a few days and honestly… I think we did quite well in the end! Here’s ten nice spots you can visit in this beautiful city feat. sceneframes from movies such as The Departed, Shutter Island, Good Will Hunting and Black Mass.
We flew to Boston directly after our four day StopOver in Iceland and had a brilliant time. We’d rented a car at the very last minute but happily, managed to book one to be picked up directly from the airport after our flight. And we got lucky with the car as well! Usually, you don’t get to pick the rental car personally, all you really get to decide is the size category.
Our home-on-the-road (at this point) turned out to be a Chevrolet Cruze 2016, which we utterly fell in love with. It’s a really comfortable car for roadtripping!
Satu had been to Boston before so she was pretty familiar with it beforehand (and super excited to go back, big fan!), for me it was the first time ever. I had some expectations and I have to say, they turned out to be pretty spot on. Beautiful streets and parks all over, lovely stone houses and Tim Horton’s donuts at every single street corner. Of course, being well aware of the city’s roots deep in American history just adds to the magic.
Boston was founded in the early 1600’s, which you can totally tell if you just pay attention to the traffic downtown. The streets simply weren’t built for cars! That was probably the thing we least liked about the city. All the narrow one-way streets everywhere, the mighty aggressive local drivers, confusing intersections and the challenges of parking streetside.
Usually, I’m super amused by Satu’s sarcastic comments about any drivers who bumble around in traffic, but in Boston even I felt kind of nervous and worried at times. We’re still not certain if the craziest drivers we encountered during our stay were the locals who have just gotten used to getting their way (literally) by just taking it, or tourists feeling as confused and lost as we did.
However, we both and the car made it out alive and without a scratch on our smooth surfaces, which makes it all ok in the end!
Since Boston was one of the first cities on our Movie Roadtrip 2016 route, we were still full of energy when we arrived. We didn’t have a lot of time, but we pretty much dedicated all of it to discovering the best movie locations the city has to offer.
Here’s a list of locations we visited, along with some brand new sceneframes to add to our growing collection from the previous three years!
Good uncompromising Irish setting with booze or beer. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself into the very fiber of history in Boston. –Superflytnt1 on TripAdvisor
That pretty much sums up the L Street Tavern to a casual beer-drinker & pub-goer. But to a film tourist and to any fans of Good Will Hunting it’s much, much more. One of the fun facts listed by MentalFloss states:
Once Robin Williams committed to the movie, he wanted to get a taste of South Boston by having Ben Affleck and Matt Damon take him around the neighborhood. They took him to a rough dive bar called the L Street Tavern, where the colorful locals mobbed the actor and drunk guys tried to fight Affleck. Williams loved the place and told Weinstein they just had to use it as a location (even though his character wasn’t in any of the scenes that took place there). “So then we got a message from Harvey,” Damon said, “and he was like, ‘Don’t take Robin to any more locations!’”
The rest of the article is a pretty good read to anyone who loves the film and enjoys little titbits from film-making.
Another super cute quote from Boston Globe’s archives that shortly mentions Williams’ visit to the pub:
Jack and Susan Woods bought the Southie dive bar in March 1997 with plans to renovate it to keep up with the gentrifying neighborhood. Four days later, “Robin Williams walked in the door with two cute kids who said they’d written a screenplay,” Susan Woods remembers.
We took an afternoon stroll around the little pond in Boston’s Public Garden and even though some bits of the waterline and gardens have changed since Williams and Damon sat on this bench during the iconic scene, we managed to find it quite easily.
What is equally heartbreaking and beautiful is the way this modest park bench became a memorial to the late Oscar winner after the news of his death. His loyal fans brought flowers, thank you notes and decorated the pathways with quotes from the movie. It seems like this might very well turn into a yearly tradition: for two years in a row now people have been coming around on the anniversary of Williams’ death with the same intention.
Aside from Good Will Hunting, the hilarious teddy bear comedy Ted filmed in this beautiful park, Boston’s Public Garden. The two fellas take walks in the park and pose for photos with a group of women… and a boob grab happens. Someone clearly needs to teach this bear what “consent” means!
We, of course, had to re-create this beary scene during our filming location tour with On Location Tours (thanks for having us, guys!)
This impressive church, built in 1865-1867 by the Central Congregational Church, is not only a really beautiful church to visit, but also a filming location for the cult classic Boondock Saints starring The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery.
For this shot, we literally had to crawl on our knees between the pews. We’re very happy and thankful that the people tending to the church on that day we’re ok with us and our odd sceneframing ways.
If you’re looking to eat lunch and sit where the lovely, talented Rachel McAdams once sat all at the same time, then you better head on over to the South End Buttery on 314 Shawmut Ave. This lovely cafeteria is where Rachel’s character on the Oscar winning film Spotlight interviews one of the victims.
This is where the rich people live! But you don’t really need to be rich to have a beautiful walk around Beacon Hill, one of Boston’s oldest and most famous neighbourhoods. This is where people like Senator John Kerry and (Tiia’s favorite because KETCHUP!) Mrs. Teresa Heinz Kerry. The neighbourhood has also starred in a couple of films, although these days they’re apparently pretty strict about any changes made to the buildings or streets.
Beacon Hill is the lovely area right next to Boston Commons and the Public Garden, so it’ll make a great addition to a movie inspired afternoon walk.
The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) was filmed here, as well as some of Martin Scorsese’s The Departed (2006) just a few blocks down – both are some of the coolest Boston movie locations one can easily visit even by foot.
In this short clip you can see Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway having breakfast in the balcony in Beacon Hill, with the buildings seen in the below photo as their backdrop.
AWESOME TRAVEL TIP: If you’re visiting from Finland (like us!), the United Kingdom or the rest of Europe, you should definitely look into Icelandair’s StopOver deals and flights to Boston. This way, you’ll not only get to experience the city, you’ll get to spend a night or few in magical Iceland for no extra flight costs.
On Beacon Street, the Bull and Finch Bar was inspiration and source of exterior shots for the Cheers television show. Although none of the scenes for the show were actually filmed here, the bar still attracts a lot of film tourists even today.
In Quincy, the southern suburb of Boston, there’s this modest highway bridge leading over the Neponset River. It might only be a handy route for the daily commuters and travelers heading to or out of the city, but for us film tourists, it’s something pretty special: both Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio have filmed some shady scenes in the, well, shade of it.
In the north end you have a scene feat. DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg and Martin Sheen having a heated discussion on The Departed…
…and in the south end you can find the spot where Johnny Depp‘s character has his men bury a body in Black Mass.
Sometimes we fail at finding the exact right filming location for our sceneframes, but it doesn’t really matter: sceneframe or not, our visit to the location usually turns into a nice walk as we circle the area looking for familiar trees, buildings and other (somewhat) permanent shapes.
Boston’s Long Wharf turned out to be a sceneframing bust, but a very lovely area for a little seaside walk and maybe a cider or two to be enjoyed with friends on the dock. This is yet another location for The Departed, but we couldn’t find anything to align the photos with. So we just hung out for a while and snapped a few photos, enjoying a little peace and quiet after the chaotic traffic adventure in the city.
This abandoned psychiatric hospital is actually located almost 30 miles outside of Boston near the town of Medfield, but it might interest some of the urban adventures among you. So, we’re totally including it in the Boston movie locations list. Plus it’s definitely worth the drive! You can see more photos and sceneframes from the Medfield State Hospital in our earlier article.
Here’s a nice image for you to pin. Have fun! :)
Our Movie Roadtrip 2016 was partly done in collaboration with Icelandair, hotels, businesses and tourism offices. The itinenary, destinations, opinions, experiences and views, however, are 100% our own. One simply can not buy our love ❤