By the Sea movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was By the Sea filmed


City Locations

Providence and Weekapaug, Rhode Island, New York City, New York

Location Types

American, House, Beach/Oceanview, NatureScapes, Ranch

Location Styles

Americana/Anywhere America, Beachfront, Bed & Breakfast, Retreat

About By the Sea

By the Sea is an independent movie that was released in 2002. The film follows the main character, Lena, played by Elena Aaron, a woman born in Cuba but raised in New York, as she starts on a new adventure in her life. She has just been hired to work as a chef at a seaside resort in New England, and it has surprising outcomes that she did not expect.

When she gets to the resort in New England, she meets a man who works there named Nate. Nate is shy but attractive, and Lena finds herself drawn to the stranger almost immediately. She hopes that Nate could be everything she is looking for, but Lena also finds herself being visited by a strange ghost that turns out to be the ghost of her grandfather. The character Lena is played by Elena Aaron and Nate is played by Robert Pemberton.

The 2002 movie By the Sea was directed by Dean Barnes and received mixed reviews from audiences. However, it was generally well received and also honored with three Imagen Nominations the year it was released. These nominations were for Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Role.

The beginning of the movie introduces us to Lena, who does not understand why she can’t dance. She feels it should be part of her Cuban heritage, which Lena feels disconnected from. She reveals she has been able to help Julian, a restaurant owner, get his place off the ground.

However, it becomes clear at the restaurant that Lena is not appreciated. After interrupting Julian’s proposal to another woman, he tries to fire Lena and she storms out of the restaurant. Lena gets home to find a box at her door, full of old pictures and a letter.

The letter reveals Lena’s father from Cuba has died, and she learns at the same time she’s losing her apartment. After this, she sees an ad for a chef wanted at a Rhode Island seaside resort, and Lena decides to go. She ends up at Sandy Bay Ocean Inn and meets a man named Nate who also works there. She also meets Zelda. During her time at the resort, Lena has visions of a ghost called Blue, who she finds out is her grandfather.

By the Sea Locations

By the Sea, an independent drama movie from 2002, was filmed across two different counties in Rhode Island as well as some in New York City. These counties are Providence County and Washington County. This 2002 movie, directed by Dean Barnes, used the towns of Providence, Rhode Island and Weekapaug, Rhode Island.

These towns can be visited today and were used to represent the Rhode Island town in the movie, as well as New York City.

When Lena is in New York during the first few scenes of the movie, the locations used for filming were actually found in Rhode Island. This includes the restaurant, Lena’s apartment, and the park where she runs into a homeless man. The location used as Sandy Bay Ocean Inn sits on the coast of Rhode Island, and stunning shots of the shore and ocean are prominent throughout this 2002 film.

The city of Providence, Rhode Island is used as New York City in many film shoots in the movie, and it has been featured in numerous films over time. The small town where Lena ends up is Weekapaug, Rhode Island.

Learning to dance scene in By the Sea

Providence, Rhode Island

When the 2002 independent film By the Sea opens, the first scene offers insight into the main character, Lena, and her life. There are shots of her bare feet on the kitchen floor, and ingredients as she throws them together to cook. Lena can be heard talking in a voice-over during the opening scene of By the Sea. She’s addressing the father she doesn’t know and wondering why she isn’t able to dance.

Lena says, “to my Cuban father. Why can’t I dance? I mean I came here from Cuba. Maybe it’s because I was raised here by a rhythmless family. Why did you send me here?”

This is the first glimpse into Lena’s Cuban heritage and the way that she feels she is not that close to it. The audience learns within the first few minutes of the film that Lena was sent to America by her father, and she has been involved with a man named Julian.

Julian proposes in the restaurant scene in By the Sea

Circe Restaurant, Providence, Rhode Island

One of the first scenes in By the Sea introduces Lena, a cook, who has helped the character Julian get his restaurant off the ground. However, Julian does not see the restaurant as both of theirs, and despite a past relationship between him and Lena, he uses a dessert that Lena made to propose to another woman. Julian also notices that Lena is not wearing shoes and tells her that she needs to put some on.

Lena tells Julian, “you used to like painting my toes.”

Julian’s only response to this is, “that was before we had cable.”

Julian puts a ring on top of the flan that Lena made and takes it to his current girlfriend to propose to her. When Lena realizes this she gets angry and confronts him right there, knocking the food into his lap.

Lena says, “you see this? I took the train downtown, shopping for all the ingredients, worked my butt off to make this caramel flan, and you decide to propose with it?”

She gets fired over this, and Lena then tells Julian, “you don’t love her. You don’t know how.”

In the park scene in By the Sea

Biltmore Park, Providence, Rhode Island

With nowhere to turn after losing her home and apartment, Lena ends up at a park in New York with just her bag and the few belongings from the mysterious box. She can be seen tying a jump rope to a tree as if she plans to hang herself, and a homeless man comes over to tell her it won’t work.

He says, “they don’t make jump ropes like they used to.”

Lena expresses her desire to die, and the homeless man tries to run off with her golden stopwatch. She is able to stop him and sits under a tree to examine the watch. She also reaches out to her guardian Angel, praying for it to stay with her.

“Dear Guardian Angel, please do not desert me. Day or night. Don’t leave me alone. Or I will get lost,” Lena says.

After this, she is looking at the watch and has a vision of men playing baseball.

Visited at night scene in By the Sea

Weekapaug Inn, Weekapaug, Rhode Island

During Lena’s first night at the Rhode Island resort, she is visited by a man that actually looks familiar to her. She recognizes the man from her vision in the park. He walks in at night when she is struggling to open the window, and Lena immediately recognizes the man, who is assumed to be a ghost by both her and Nate.

She tells the stranger, “Hey, I know you. From my dream.”

The man responds in Spanish to say, “do you know who you are? It’s very important. Your time here is important and valuable.”

The ghost also asks if Lena speaks Spanish, and she says that it has been a while since she has.

He tells her, “you do well to understand me. We are very much alike.”

Lena does not yet know if this strange person is a ghost or not, so she asks him, “are you alive or are you dead?”

The ghost does not answer Lena’s question but instead responds with one of his own.

He asks her, “well are you Cuban or are you a Yankee? Just who are you?” Only a few seconds later, he leaves.

Star gazing scene in By the Sea

Weekapaug Inn, Weekapaug, Rhode Island

During one of the romantic scenes in By the Sea, Lena and Nate are sitting outside at night to stargaze, but there are not many stars out, and waiting to see a meteor shower Nate has heard about. They are sitting by a small fire and making s’mores, but Lena reveals she doesn’t like sweets. However, Nate does get her to bite into one and she actually enjoys it.

When they are talking about the stars and meteors, Nate tells Lena, “must be hiding tonight. Timing is everything when the universe is at play. You believe that?”

Lena’s response is, “I believe in seeing the future.”

A few moments later she tries to remember why she wanted to be a pastry chef and recalls an early memory from her childhood.

“I think it’s because I remember someone baking pies in Cuba. The aromas were so scrumptious,” she shares with Nate.

Julian comes to town scene in By the Sea

Weekapaug Inn, Weekapaug, Rhode Island

One of the final scenes in the movie shows Julian at the resort, hoping to win back Lena. He reveals the woman he wanted to marry left him, and he wants to be with Lena again. He even offers to make her a partner in the restaurant.

“Bet you never thought you’d see me again,” Julian tells Lena.

But her response is, “No. I know bad luck follows me everywhere.”

Julian tells her, “Listen, I got a call about you from this establishment for a reference, and it got me thinking. About us.”

This leads Lena to feel conflicted about what she should do. She does leave with him at first, but it doesn’t take long for her to return to Nate and the resort.


The 2002 movie By the Sea takes place in New England, at the fictional Sandy Bay Ocean Inn, and it was filmed on location in two different Rhode Island towns. These towns were Providence and Weekapaug. The independent film was directed by Dean Barnes and follows the character Lena as she moves to Rhode Island and starts her life over as a chef there.

Through visions of her grandfather, she becomes closer to her Cuban heritage, while also falling in love with the mysterious new man she has met, Nate. By the Sea was well received by many critics when it first came out but has received mixed reviews since then. In 2002 it was given three Imagen Nominations. These were for Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Role. This independent film stars Elena Aaron and Robert Pemberton and was produced by both Dean Barnes and Dean H. Huh.