I’ve been catching up on season 8 of my favourite TV show “Murdoch Mysteries” over the last couple of weeks, watching the episodes on the CBC website. This show is being filmed in my home city of Toronto (as well as surrounding towns) and for once, Toronto plays itself, albeit a past version of itself.


A large number of TV series and movies have been filmed here over the last few decades, even though, most of the time, Toronto masquerades as New York, Chicago, or Washington DC. In fact, so many productions have taken place here, that Toronto has acquired the moniker of Hollywood North.

The movies Chicago, Cinderella Man, Good Will Hunting, Three Men and a Baby, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men (the first one) and My Big Fat Greek Wedding just to name a few, were all shot partly, or entirely, in Toronto. Among TV series are favourites such as Earth Final Conflict (1997-2002), Being Erica (2009-2011), Degrassi, and the aforementioned Murdock Mysteries. This is the reason why, even if you’ve never visited Toronto before, things may look a little… familiar.

City Hall, Toronto

Looks familiar?

Popular buildings that have appeared many times on the screen are City Hall (left) and Roy Thomson Hall (for their futuristic architectural style), as well as the Distillery District for its Victorian period look. Many streets and parks (including St-James, my neighbourhood’s park) have also been used.

If you’re a movie fan, you would probably be thrilled to visit the places where your favourites movies where shot. With a little research, you could probably create your own “Toronto On Location” tour from articles such as this one or perhaps the recent book World Film Locations: Toronto.

Toronto offers many walking tours, but oddly, I haven’t been able to find a tour that focuses on movie locations. However, if your favourite shows or movies were filmed in New York, Boston, Washington DC, or Los Angeles, you’re in luck, as those cities all offer movie location tours!

New York, Boston, and Washington DC

On the East Coast, On Location Tours offers 10 tours in New York City including the popular NYC TV and Movie Tour (also offered in French) and Sex and the City Hotspots Tour (also offered in German), two tours in Boston (yes, that’s where the famous series Cheers! was filmed), and new this year, a Washington DC TV and Movie Sites Tour for private groups. (You can book a private tour in New York or Boston as well by the way.) Guides on all the tours are experienced local actors who provide their perspective and personal anecdotes about filming on location.

New York On Location Tour Bus

New York On Location Tour Bus (Photo courtesy of On Location Tours)

A couple of these tours are purely walking tours, but most require the use of a bus given the distances involved between the sites. The walking tours go for only $25 USD (1.5 to 2 hours in length) and the others sell for $33 to $49 USD and last from two to four hours. Check out their website. There is something for every taste in there.

In fact, if you’re thinking of visiting one of these cities as some point, On Location Tours, in partnership with BigTravelNut, is currently running a giveaway that you’ll definitely want to enter! The prize: two tickets for the On Location tour of your choice! Even better, the prize has no expiry date. So make sure you enter below before reading on. The winner will be contacted by email on August 19, 2015.

(If you’re new to Rafflecopter giveaways, you must accomplish some of the “actions”  listed in the widget below to get the number of entries specified. Good luck!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Building from the Ghostbusters movie, New York City

Building from the Ghostbusters movie, New York City (Photo courtesy of On Location Tours)

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is of course home to Hollywood, the birthplace of the movie industry in North America, which got its start around 1910. Not surprisingly, several companies here offer “on location” movie tours, in addition to all the celebrity house tours, Universal Studio, and so on. Here are just a couple of examples. TripAdvisor will show you many more.

Movie Locations Tour takes you on a 3-hour bus tour visiting 50 movie locations in Hollywood and Downtown LA. The bus is customized with stadium-seating and a 65-inch HDTV screen where movie clips, corresponding to the locations on the tour, are projected. You also get to tour the iconic interiors of the Bradbury Building and Union Station. This tour goes for $60 USD if you book online.

Red Line Tours offers a Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes tour which combines Hollywood history, movie locations, legendary movie palaces, Walk of Fame, and celebrities’ favourite hidden hideaways. All this is packed into a 75-minute tour for only $24.95 USD.

There you have it: five North American cities rich in movie history that all movie fans should add to their bucket list. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway above!

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