Dexter lives in Miami and works for the Miami Metro Police Department, so surely the series was mostly filmed in and around Miami, right? Well, not necessarily.
While you will spot several familiar locations around Miami throughout the first season of Dexter, much of the filming in subsequent seasons took place at sites in LA and Long Beach in California.
Dexter’s apartment is perhaps the most recognizable of all Dexter locations and is found at Bay Harbor Islands, a private and secluded neighborhood just north of Miami Beach. But following season one, most filming in the apartment was done in a replica constructed in the production’s LA studio.
Just like the show itself, you’ll need to split your time between California and Florida to check out the best Dexter locations. Let’s take a look at where some memorable scenes were shot.
The show’s first series was based on Darkly Dreaming Dexter, a 2004 novel by Jeff Lindsay.
Dexter’s apartment scene in Dexter
Bay Harbor Club
The very first episode of Dexter certainly doesn’t muck around, instead throwing viewers straight into the action. On a hot and busy night in Miami, while all the normal people of the world are out having a conventionally good time, Dexter stalks and kills a pedophile. “Soon you’ll be packed into a few neatly wrapped Hefties in my own small corner of the world. It’ll be a neater, happier place. A better place,” he says to his victim.
Then, after some flashbacks to Dexter’s disturbing behavior as a child, and after dumping his victim’s body at sea, Dexter returns to his apartment. He puts a sample of his victim’s blood into a box of other samples: “Blood — sometimes it sets my teeth on edge. Other times, it helps me control the chaos,” Dexter says.
Our protagonist’s apartment features heavily right throughout the seven seasons of Dexter, and it’s quite easy to find less than 10 miles north of the heart of Miami Beach. Located on 103rd St at the Bay Harbor Club, this condo is in a quiet and secure neighborhood. It’s also a private residence and access is restricted to members, so show a little courtesy and remember that you may not be able to get as close to the condo as you hope.
Dexter sees the Ice Truck Killer’s first victim scene in Dexter
5940 Biscayne Blvd
With another kill under his belt, Dexter gets a message from his foster sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), a vice officer, inviting him to a crime scene in a “s***hole” motel.
As Dexter makes his way to the Seven Seas Motel, Dexter reveals his inner thoughts: “There's something strange and disarming about looking at a homicide scene in the daylight of Miami. It makes the most grotesque killings look staged, like you're in a new and daring section of Disneyworld: Dahmerland.”
When he gets there, Debra informs him that the dismembered body of a prostitute has been found in the pool. The third one in five months, in fact, and Debra and Dexter agree that there must be a serial killer on the loose.
If you want to check out this motel for yourself, you’ll find it at 5940 Biscayne Blvd. It’s about five miles north of the center of Miami and also featured in the 2013 Dwayne Johnson film Pain & Gain.
Dexter’s flashback scene in Dexter
One constant theme throughout the first season of Dexter is the main character’s regular flashbacks to his troubled childhood. One particularly memorable scene occurs in episode five, when we cut to footage of a teenage Dexter out the front of his childhood home.
A girl, Mindy, turns up, and it’s clear she has a crush on Dexter. “So, are you gonna go to the spring formal?” she asks hopefully. “Why would I want to do that?” he replies bluntly.
Overhearing the conversation, his foster father, Harry (James Remar), explains that the girl wanted Dexter to ask her to the dance, and that he needs to learn the signals if he’s going to be able to fit in with the rest of society. “I just like being alone,” Dexter complains, but his father complains that most normal people don’t. “And it’s important that you seem normal,” he explains.
The house chosen as the setting for Dexter’s childhood home isn’t in Miami but in Long Beach, CA. You can find it on Chatwin Ave, close to a host of other Dexter locations.
Dexter hits Paul with a frying pan scene in Dexter
San Anseline Ave
Dexter doesn’t quite know how to maintain normal human relationships, so his girlfriend, Rita (Julie Benz), is quite a good match for him in many ways. Having escaped an abusive relationship with her ex, Paul (Mark Pellegrino), Rita is reluctant to engage in any intimacy.
But Paul is a real piece of work. Having been released from prison, where he served time for a violent assault on Rita, this manipulative ex-con is keen to do everything he can to weasel his way back into the affections of Rita’s kids and destroy any happiness Rita can find.
But when he threatens Rita and Dexter at Rita’s house in episode 10 of season one, he goes too far. “My heart beats for those two kids. So if you or that skinny b**ch try to screw with what’s mine, I swear to God, I don’t care who I have to hurt,” Paul spits. Dexter has had enough, so he wallops Paul over the head with a frying pan, knocking him unconscious, and then frames him for drug use.
The setting used as the Dexter filming location for Rita’s house is actually found a long way away from Miami. You can find it on San Anseline Ave in Long Beach, roughly six miles northeast of the heart of Long Beach.
The Ice Truck Killer kidnaps Debra scene in Dexter
Intersection of Albury Ave and East Vernon St
In the thrilling finale to season one of Dexter, our protagonist faces a race against time to save his foster sister’s life. With Debra taken hostage by the Ice Truck Killer, Rudy (Christian Camargo), Dexter must move heaven and earth to find where the killer has taken her and do anything possible to save her.
“I don't have much time. To be more accurate, my sister doesn't have much time. He wants me to find him, but where do I look?” Dexter ponders frantically.
Little does he know that Debra is locked in the trunk of a stolen car, the corpse of the car’s owner beside her and Rudy at the wheel. But the killer is unhappy to hear Debra’s muffled voice coming from the trunk, so he stops on a deserted street to rearrange her gag.
The street where the killer stops is another Dexter location found in California. It’s found near the intersection of Albury Ave and East Vernon St, just next to the San Diego Freeway in Long Beach.
Dexter stalks Miguel scene in Dexter
Marina del Rey Marriott
Throughout season three of Dexter, famous actor Jimmy Smits plays a starring role as Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado. Dexter is usually very strict about keeping his life private, but he eventually lets down his barriers and lets Miguel into his inner sanctum.
But when Dexter shares his code with Miguel and Dexter helps his friend kill a murderer, Dexter realizes he’s made a mistake. Miguel’s idea of justice is different from his own, and when he discovers that Miguel has been lying to him, Dexter is hungry for revenge.
After first planning to kill Miguel on his own wedding night, Dexter comes up with a better plan. To pull it off, he starts stalking Miguel while he stays at the Hotel Belvedere. And while Miguel and Ramon get drunk at the hotel bar, Dexter decides to sneak into Miguel’s room. “The way the Prados are knocking them back, they’re not going anywhere soon. Just as well. I have some stalking to do,” he narrates.
If you’d like to check out the Hotel Belvedere for yourself, you might be surprised to find that it’s the Marina del Rey Marriott on Admiralty Way. Both the exterior and interior of the hotel were used, so it’s well worth a visit.
Dexter is one of TV’s great anti-heroes. While he does some morally reprehensible things, he still operates in line with his own moral code. And thanks to Michael C. Hall’s layered portrayal, he’s one of the most memorable characters to grace our screens this century.
If there was one criticism of Dexter it was that the show’s grand finale at the close of season seven was far too open-ended. But the good news is that Dexter returned in a new 10-part series, Dexter: New Blood, with Hall reprising his much-loved role as Dexter some 10 years into the future.
The new season moved Dexter from hot and crowded Miami to the frosty and quiet surrounds of upstate New York. Not only does it give Dexter’s Dark Passenger a chance to rise to the surface again, but it also gives audiences the chance to experience something more like closure. If you were a fan of the original, be sure to check out the latest installment.