How to Take ‘The Notebook’ Tour of Charleston
Trace the steps of Noah and Allie’s iconic love story by visiting these 7 Charleston landmarks.
Thanks to its charming historic downtown, antebellum homes, and idyllic waterfront vistas, it’s no surprise that Charleston is a popular location for TV shows and movies to film. But one of the most iconic films to use Charleston as its backdrop is undoubtedly The Notebook. While Nicholas Sparks originally set the book in New Bern, North Carolina, the movie places Noah and Allie in Seabrook, South Carolina, a small town about an hour south of Charleston. Most of the movie was filmed in Charleston, however, with Mount Pleasant’s Old Village and parts of King Street serving as downtown Seabrook and several private and public homes in the area setting the historically accurate backdrop.
If you’re a fan of The Notebook, taking a tour of the film locations in and around Charleston is a fun way to experience the romantic story in a new way—and maybe see parts of one of our favorite Southern cities you haven’t seen before. Here are 7 Charleston landmarks you’ll recognize from the movie:
The American Theater
The setting for Noah and Allie’s first date—followed by lying down and dancing in the middle of the street—is the American Theater, a 1940s movie theater on King Street in downtown Charleston. The theater is now a private event space and no longer shows movies, but you can have a custom message written out in the marquee for your own sweetheart.
Boone Hall Plantation
Scenes of the exterior of Allie’s family’s summer house were filmed at the iconic Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant. The plantation, which has been a working farm for more than 300 years, is open to the public for tours—you’ll recognize it instantly upon turning on to the mossy oak-lined driveway and seeing the iron gate in front of the house that Noah rams his truck into.
However, the interiors of the Hamiltons’ summer home—a.k.a. the site of most of the fights Allie has with her parents—were actually filmed in the Calhoun Mansion, a grand and gilded circa-1876 mansion near the battery in Charleston that is also open to the public for tours.
College of Charleston
In the movie, Allie leaves South Carolina behind to attend Sarah Lawrence College in New York. However, those scenes were in fact filmed on College of Charleston’s picturesque downtown campus, which is too beautiful not to wander through if you never have.
After years apart, Noah goes into town (actually meant to be Charleston this time) and spots Allie on the street. He follows after her until she walks into a restaurant where she is greeted by her fiancé Lon, setting off Noah’s obsession with renovating the old house and winning Allie back. The restaurant Allie and Lon are dining in is High Cotton, an actual restaurant serving classic Lowcountry fare in an upscale space that isn’t much different from what you see in the movie.
The William Aiken House
Right next door to the American Theater on King Street is the historic William Aiken House, where Allie is trying on her wedding dress when she sees the picture of Noah standing in front of the house he fixed up in the paper. The bright yellow house was built in 1810 and epitomizes the best of Charleston architecture. Unsurprisingly, the home is now primarily used for events and is one of the most sought-after wedding venues in the city.
Noah and Allie’s eventual reunion begins with Noah taking Allie out in a rowboat to see the hundreds of geese on the lake behind his house. The beautiful scenery was also filmed near Charleston, at Cypress Gardens in the town of Moncks Corner. After several years of closure due to flooding, the gardens will reopen to the public this April. You can even take a tour of the swamp in your own rowboat, but you won’t witness the great migration of geese—they were trained and brought in especially for the movie.