If you’re like me, you’re still reeling from the news that The Summer I Turned Pretty won’t return until 2025. Sigh. The Season 2 finale left us with a shocking turn of events that had us saying, “Oh, Connie baby”… and now we’re eagerly awaiting the inevitable aftermath. But as Belly and crew film Season 3, you could re-read the books or, like I did, take matters into your own hands by visiting the very locations where the hit show films.

The beloved Prime Video series, based on Jenny Han’s young adult book trilogy, is set in the fictional, picturesque town of Cousins Beach in the Cape Cod area. While Cousins Beach doesn’t exactly exist (well, maybe in our hearts), its scenes take place in real-life beach towns further south — on and near the shorelines of North Carolina, with the bulk of the filming in Carolina Beach and Wilmington. Nicknamed the “Hollywood of the East,” the area is recognizable to OG teen drama fans as the filming locations for One Tree Hill, Dawson’s Creek, and other iconic series.

With the newfound knowledge that I could walk in the steps of some of my favorite fictional small-screen characters (I’m team Conrad, btw), I couldn’t wait to hit the boardwalk and have a drink at the famous bar where “the moms” got tipsy. So, here’s a guide on how to live out your best The Summer I Turned Pretty fantasy in the real-life version of Cousins Beach.

First stop: Carolina Beach

The beaches of Carolina are practically their own character, with powdery white sand and blue waters. And a stop at Carolina Beach, where brooding Conrad won Belly her cherished stuffed polar bear, is a must. Hit the beach, take a ride on the Ferris wheel, or enjoy the shops hawking tacky-but-must-have souvenirs, like silly tie-dye t-shirts. And instead of going on a muffin run — a favorite of the kids of Cousins Beach — stop by the iconic Britt’s Donut Shop. Whether you are Team Jeremiah or Team Conrad, you’ll agree that the sweet treats from this historic donut shop are the very best.

Carly Caramanna

After your pending sugar coma, throw back a few at the dive bar where “the moms” got famously sloshed. The Fat Pelican is a local watering hole with flowing drinks and immaculate dive bar vibes. From floor to ceiling, it’s like the contents of an eclectic nautical-inspired flea market. It’s utterly unassuming, with a self-serve beer cooler and a sand-covered back patio. Here, you’ll feel like a local in no time.

Carly Caramanna

If you really want to maximize your experience, you could spend part of your trip darting around to other local beaches where The Summer I Turned Pretty filmed scenes. The path lined with hanging seashells that Belly and Jeremiah take from the summer house to the beach (back in Season 1) was filmed at Wrightsville Beach. Wrightsville Beach’s Crystal Pier also makes a cameo.

Many of the night beach scenes, along with the scene of Cam and Belly biking along the beach in Season 1, were filmed at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area in Fort Fisher.

To Cap Off Your Weekend: Wilmington

The steamy relationship between Belly’s mom and famous author Cleveland traces back to their first encounter at Whale of a Tale Bookshop. While you can’t slam back white wine a la Conrad, you can pick up the classics and latest thrillers at this small independent book shop — named Papercut Books — in charming downtown Wilmington.

Carly Caramanna

Just down the street, you’ll find The Black Cat Shoppe, a quirky little gift shop that you may remember as the record store frequented by Peyton in One Tree Hill. Here, you can stock up on all the Cousins Beach swag, like t-shirts, stickers, and magnets.

Carly Caramanna

You may not spot Jeremiah on the lifeguard stand, but the country club where he worked is the real deal. Cape Fear Country Club is just a short drive from downtown, but be mindful that it is private property and limited to members.

Carly Caramanna

Also in a private gated area of Wilmington? The Fisher family beach house, the exterior of which belongs to a home in the private golf course community of Porters Neck Plantation.

Seemingly popping up out of nowhere are the sound stages where production has filmed many of its interior scenes — and it looks plucked straight out of Hollywood. Just around the corner, you won’t want to miss taking a photo with the street sign for One Tree Hill Way.

Carly Caramanna

While the crew didn’t hang here (yet), we could totally see them hitting Winnie’s Tavern after the beach for what very well may be the best burger to ever exist.

Carly Caramanna

The small, laid-back restaurant is fourth-generation female-owned and family-owned, passed on from grandmother to granddaughter.

Aside from filming, all of these locations are some of the most visited tourist spots in the region. They are home to beautiful beaches, standout restaurants, and much more — basically the makings of a perfect weekend getaway.

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