On Golden Pond movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was On Golden Pond filmed?

1981

About On Golden Pond

Released in late 1981, On Golden Pond offers a star-studded cast of Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, and Dabney Coleman. On Golden Pond is the second highest-grossing film in the continent of North America for the year 1981. The film won Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress.

On Golden Pond was originally a screenplay. It is the story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who have an annual tradition of spending summers at their cottage near Golden Pond in New England. Norman is displaying signs of growing senile, and he often complains about his heart condition. Ethel tries to be a positive influence on Norman, encouraging him to play board games or enjoy the scenery.

The Thayers’ daughter arrives with her fiance and future stepson. Chelsea and Norman argue, chiefly because Norman is such a curmudgeon. Eventually, Chelsea asks Norman and Ethel to watch the stepson while she and her fiance are off on a European vacation.

Although Billy and Norman don’t get along at first, the pair begin fishing regularly. The trips become enjoyable for both of them. Eventually, Billy and Norman become obsessed with catching a mythical fish Norman nicknames “Walter.”

Norman and Billy are eventually in a boating accident, but they are saved by Ethel and the mailman. Chelsea and her fiance return, and the relationship between Norman and Billy draws Chelsea to her father. The relationship between the odd pair helps to restore the family relationship.

City Locations

Squam Lake, New Hampshire

Location Types

Americana, Cabins, Beach House

Location Styles

Beach House, Beachfront

On Golden Pond Locations

The film On Golden Pond saw the majority of its film shoot locations filmed at Squam Lake, New Hampshire.

In fact, there are actually two lakes in this area, and filming took place at both locations. They are known locally as Big Squam and Little Squam lakes. The original house, the same as the home in On Golden Pond, sits on the property. Visitors can see the home from the water, but “you have to know where to look.”

There are multiple ways to enjoy this beautiful filming location of On Golden Pond in New Hampshire. The Squam Lakes Science Center offers a Discover Squam Cruise, where tourists can visit multiple On Golden Pond filming locations in the area. This cruise is offered several times during the summer season.

Another place tourists can visit regarding On Golden Pond is the Squam Lake Inn. Many of the people who work at the Inn were there during the time the movie was filmed, and many of them have heartwarming stories they are more than happy to share with tourists who come to see where On Golden Pond was filmed.

Visitors to the Squam Lake area must see the loons. Ethel mentions that they welcome she and Norman each year, and they will greet tourists as well.

Fun fact:

Jane Fonda, who is the real daughter of Henry Fonda, plays his daughter in the film.

Opening scene in On Golden Pond

Squam Lake, NH

The opening scene of On Golden Pond is the perfect introduction to Norman Thayer, an old, cantankerous man who seems to enjoy nothing. Norman picks up the phone and dials the operator but forgets that he made the call. Instead, when the operator answers, Norman says, “You called me!”

This is one of the funny scenes in On Golden Pond, and also gives some insight into Norman’s mental decline. In addition to not realizing that he placed the call to the operator, he doesn’t recognize a picture of himself and his wife Ethel along with their daughter.

We’ve already met Ethel, for one of the first things she says to Norman has to do with the loons “welcoming them” back to Golden Pond. Ethel is very sweet, but she seems to be growing senile as well. Ethel tells Norman about meeting a middle-aged couple in the woods and says, “like us.” Norman bursts her balloon quickly, saying they are both far from middle-aged.

Ethel does love Norman, but she refers to him in this scene twice as “an old poop.”

The Thayers meet Bill and Billy scene in On Golden Pond

Cottage Place on Squam Lake, 1132 US-3, Holderness, NH

In what is one of the best scenes in On Golden Pond, we find Bill and Norman chatting about old age. “So how does it feel to turn 80?” (Bill) “About twice as bad as it did turning 40!” (Norman)

Norman is not happy about getting older by any stretch of the imagination. He’s not pleased about Ethel throwing a birthday party for him, and he’s not thrilled about Chelsea coming to the summer home. In reality, Norman is happy to see his daughter even though they have a strained relationship, but he’s not enthused about meeting new people.

Norman is stuck in the past. He picks up the book Treasure Island, and he asks Bill if the young boy has ever read it. Bill replies no. Norman is taken aback by the news. Bill tries to tell Norman how happy he is to have Chelsea in his life, but Norman seems to ignore him. He changes the conversation to prices that Bill charges at his dentist's office.

Bill seems to be asking for Norman’s approval of their upcoming marriage, and he tells Norman that the pair wish to share a bedroom while they visit. Again, Norman seems to be showing his age when Bill poses the question. He hurls insults at Bill, who tosses it right back to Norman. He tells Norman he’s aware of the mind game that Norman is playing.

Soon after, Billy will also toss underhanded insults to Norman as well. Norman will learn that he can’t simply hurl insults at people without some type of recourse. Fortunately, Billy and Norman will actually learn to get along.

Ethel and Charlie save Norman scene in On Golden Pond

Purgatory Cove (aka Chamberlain-Reynolds Beach Cove), Squam Lake, New Hampshire

Billy and Norman begin fishing together on the lake. Norman begins telling Billy about a fish he has nicknamed Walter, supposedly the biggest fish in Golden Pond. Walter is a ten-pound Rainbow Trout that is legendary on the lake, but no one has ever been able to catch him. After a while, Billy gets excited about the prospect of catching Walter. It takes some time, but Billy and Norman build a friendship while they are fishing for Walter.

Eventually, the pair find themselves out on Purgatory Cove, a rocky and dangerous area of the lake. Billy ends up driving the boat when Norman decides he wants to leave, but Billy is a novice and ends up driving into a rocky area rather than going into reverse as Norman instructs him. The result is an accident where Norman is knocked out of the boat and is almost killed. Eventually, Charlie and Ethel boat out to Billy and Norman. Ethel jumps into the cold water to save her husband.

This filming location of On Golden Pond can be found at Squam Lake, New Hampshire. The easiest way to get to Squam Lake is by car but you can also take bus 2, 4f or 16.

Conclusion

At a time when people were just beginning to realize that “being senile” might not just be a part of aging, but rather signs of a serious disease called Alzheimer’s, On Golden Pond provides insight into the mind of an elderly person fighting the illness.

There are multiple pieces of evidence that Norman is fighting Alzheimer’s and that it’s affecting his life adversely. He forgets that the screen door to the home is broken (and has been for some time). He accuses the mailman of breaking the door. He loses his way when he’s supposed to be picking strawberries.

Billy’s presence helps Norman to feel younger and more vibrant. Although Norman isn’t very kind to Billy at first, the pair become fast friends. Billy helps Norman to have a more positive outlook on life, and he helps to bring Norman closer to his daughter, Chelsea.

Tourists can visit Squam Lake every summer, take a cruise on the lake, and stay at the local inn. The area is just a short drive from Lake Winnipesaukee in central New Hampshire.