It may have started with “The West Wing” back in 1999, but over the past ten years, Washington, DC has become one of Hollywood’s favorite film settings. Going beyond iconic shots of the Lincoln Memorial or the White House, Washington’s distinct neighborhoods, political personalities, and reputation as the most powerful city in America have become integral, and often times flavorful, characters in major plot lines on both the big and small screen.
Although many shows set in DC aren’t actually filmed in the District, and shot just outside the city in Virginia or Maryland, we still think this list of films and TV shows do an excellent job celebrating our nation’s capital.
Here are a few of our favorite film sites in Washington, DC:
The District Classics
- “The American President,” 1995 – Although the interior White House shots of this romantic drama were filmed in California, many of the exterior scenes featuring Michael Douglas and Annette Bening were filmed throughout Washington, DC.
- “Wag the Dog,” 1997 – The political dramedy filmed in many DC locations including an intersection near the White House and streets in the beautiful Capitol Hill neighborhood.
- “All the President’s Men,” 1976 – This iconic political thriller about the Watergate Scandal is basically a travel hit list of famous DC locations, including The Watergate Building, Library of Congress, Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, Capitol Building, Lafayette Square and the John F. Kennedy Center.
- “Wedding Crashers,” 2005 – Not all films shot in Washington DC are dramatic, political thrillers. Cult favorite comedy “Wedding Crashers” was filmed at various locations throughout DC, including the Georgetown canal, a church near Dupont Circle and the Lincoln Memorial at sunrise.
Washington on Screen Today
- “House of Cards” – Most of the Washington, DC scenes in this Netflix political thriller were filmed in nearby Baltimore, Maryland, but the epic opening credits are basically a photo essay of both the gritty and glamorous side of the District. In 2014, a motorcade scene was filmed in downtown Washington, DC just outside of Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington DC.
- “Madam Secretary” – While initially shot in New York, political drama “Madam Secretary,” which follows both the private and personal life of fictional Secretary of State, Elizabeth McCord, has most recently shot scenes of its third season in Washington, DC. Look for scenes near the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and near the World War II Memorial.
- “The Walking Dead” – Although actually shot in the state of Georgia, Alexandria, Virginia is the main setting for seasons six and seven of the horror, zombie series “The Walking Dead,” and is considered to be a post-apocalypse “safe-zone” in the plot.
- “Mercy Street” – Civil War-era medical drama “Mercy Street” on PBS, is set in Union army-occupied Alexandria, Virginia just across the river from the District, and showcases events that actually took place in Alexandria in the mid-19th century.
When your travels bring you to the “DMV” this summer (our local nickname for DC, Maryland, and Virginia), make sure to check out these iconic film locations, and rest your head at one of the 12 Kimpton hotels in Baltimore, Alexandria and Washington, DC.