Dexter Filming Locations: Driving to Tampa


The location: Driving to Tampa.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. A highway.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. Somewhere between Miami and Tampa, Florida.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. In Episode 8 (of Season 4), "Road Kill".

    Dexter learns that the Trinity Killer ('Arthur Mitchell') is going out of town again to begin a new round of murders.

    So, posing as 'Kyle', a new member of Trinity's church, he talks his way into going along on the trip, planning to kill Trinity at the first opportunity.

    In this scene, we see them in Trinity's van, on their way to Tampa.

    The excuse Dexter used to tag along was that he was "troubled", and Arthur is eager to find out why. He's nagging Dexter to tell him what it is, but Dexter isn't saying much, and Trinity is losing his patience, comparing Dexter to one of his 10th grade students trying to explain why he didn't do his homework.

    Dexter then spots a "pit stop", points to it, and they stop there to rest up and grab a bite to eat. While there, Arthur badgers Dexter into telling him that he killed a man.

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A highway, but nowhere near Florida..

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. This was shot on the northwest bound lanes of Pacific Coast Highway, on a small bridge passing over the wetlands between Sunset Beach and Seal Beach, CA (in what is technically Orange County, but close to the L.A. County border.)

    The approximate address is 2800 Pacific Coast Highway, Seal BeachCA.

    (But don't confuse that address with a similar address west of the traffic circle in Long Beach. That address is listed, somewhat bizarrely, as 2800 E. Pacific Coast Highway, despite the fact that it is far northwest of this Seal Beach bridge.)

    The swampy wetlands seen outside their window (with unusual grassy "islands" floating in the bay) are known as the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge (or the Anaheim Bay National Wildlife Refuge) and are located near the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station.

    The refuge is a 900-acre remnant saltwater marsh in the Anaheim Bay estuary, and serves as a haven and wintering area for shorebirds along the Pacific Flyway.

    You'll find the bridge slightly less than a mile southeast of Seal Beach Blvd. and about 3/4 mile northwest of Huntington Harbor. (See the map link for the exact location.) The small bridge that they drive over allows boats to pass under the highway on their way out to open water.

    The scene actually begins about a third of a mile back (southeast) before they hit the bridge. The blue & white building that is glimpsed out Dexter's window is the Simple Green building at 15922 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach. (Yes, the street numbering system on PCH is downright weird...). And the homes seen behind Trinity, before they reach the bridge, are beach condos on the west side of PCH.

    (The larger bridge glimpsed at the very opening of the scene is not the actual Seal Beach bridge.  It is most likely just an establishing shot from somewhere in Florida.)

    I shot the photo below (out of my car window, as I drove over the bridge) in December 2009.

    Here is an aerial photo of the road. And here is a map link.

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A.  Newport Beach & Balboa Island is one of my favorite spots, and I enjoy taking scenic route along the shore, via PCH, from Long Beach to Newport. One of the more interesting sights along the way are these unusual grassy islands floating in the bay, visible as one drives over that Seal Beach bridge. So I simply recognized it instantly when I saw it. I then used Google StreetView to verify the exact spot on PCH where they shot the scene.

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