Practical Magic movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Practical Magic filmed?

1998

About Practical Magic

Starring two Hollywood powerhouses, Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, “Practical Magic” is a romantic fantasy/ comedy that swept the ‘90s crowd off their feet. It’s based on Alice Hoffman’s same-titled novel, and Griffin Dunne was responsible for bringing the magic to our screens.

The mesmerizing film starts with Maria Owens (Caprice Benedetti) who manages to escape an execution attempt because of her suspected links to witchcraft. Heartbroken after her unborn child’s father abandons her, she casts a spell to prevent herself and her female descendants from ever falling in love.

Kidman and Bullock personify Gillian and Sally Owens, two sisters who are also witches. The Owens spell has since transformed into a curse, and it claims the lives of the sisters’ parents. They grow up under their aunts’ custody, Frances (Stockard Channing) and Jet (Dianne West). Their aunts also teach them how to use practical magic.

They are bullied by other school children and essentially grow up as outcasts. Sally casts a spell willing herself to never fall in love unless it’s with a man who meets a series of impossible standards. On the other hand, her sister looks forward to meeting her proverbial knight in shining armor.

In their teens, Gillian sets off to Los Angeles with her boyfriend. Before departing, she makes a blood spell with Sally promising that they’ll always be loyal to each other. As grown-ups, both hit several snags on the road and soon realize that they have to reverse the family curse.

In the end, they join forces with the townswomen to vanquish Gillian’s dead boyfriend’s spirit that has been baying for their blood. The newly formed coven also allows the Owens women to break their centuries-old curse.

City Locations

Whidbey Island, San Juan Island, Los Angeles

Location Types

Colonial, House, Clubs/Bars, Galleries, Retail, Studios

Location Styles

Americans/ Anywhere America, Office Building Style

Practical Magic Locations

In April 1998, the Practical Magic production team set up shop in Washington for what would end up being a year-long-plus shoot. The bulk of the time was spent constructing the Owens’ Victorian house.

While the story is set in New England, the producers settled for locations on Whidbey Island, San Juan Island, and surrounding areas near Anacortes. Downtown Coupeville was yet another key location used for the production, with several addresses along Main and Front Streets featured in the film.

Producers chose the Whidbey Island locale as a filming location because of its 19th-century vibes. Decades later, the waterfront village of Coupeville maintains the magical tradition. Of celebrating the anniversary of when the witching film hit the cinemas.

The movie’s centerpiece is undoubtedly the Owens’ Victorian residence. One famous Hollywood starlet, who wasn’t attached to the film, was so enamored by the beautiful abode that she wanted to buy the mansion. There’s plenty more to explore about the Practical Magic filming locations, so let’s get right into it.

Fun facts:

Dunne contracted the services of a real witch as a consultant for the film. The witch decided to try and extort the production team by demanding an additional $250,000 and a percentage of the movie’s profits. Naturally, the producers didn’t heed her demands.

Blood pact scene in Practical Magic

San Juan Island, Washington

One of the earlier scenes in the movie sees the Owens sisters make a blood pact while chanting “my blood, your blood, our blood.” Gilly had just decided to set off to Los Angeles. That meant that she was leaving the small town behind and her aunts’ house, where she grew up with her sister.

It’s one of the memorable Practical Magic scenes filmed outside the old Victorian-style mansion that was specifically constructed for the production in San Juan Island, Washington. Stephen Alsch and Robin Standefer from Roman and Williams constructed the set.

The production team reportedly spent $80,000 to lease the burial ground where they set up the Owens residence. It took six months to landscape and construct the set.

The production team wasn’t allowed to dig the grounds, and therefore, they set up the residence on giant platforms.

Barbara Streisand is the Hollywood starlet who called the producers inquiring about the property. Much like fans of the film, she was heartbroken to learn that the residence was nothing more than an architectural shell. It took just over a day to dismantle the empty shell once filming concluded.

Sally moves back to her aunts’ home scene in Practical Magic

Los Angeles

When Gilly leaves town, Sally also marches forward with her life. She settles down with a man called Michael (Mark Feuerstein), and they welcome two daughters.

The cycle repeats itself when the family curse claims her husband’s life. Sally moves back into her aunts’ house with her daughters only after establishing a few conditional rules.

She tells her aunts that she doesn’t want her daughters “dancing naked under the full moon.” One of her aunts responds that if memory should serve her right, nudity is optional.

Given that the Practical Magic film set on San Juan Island was just an empty shell, the production team shot the interior scenes on a soundstage in Los Angeles. Standefer and Alesch also worked on the interior set design.

They used wood paneling for the staircase and foyer to give the home a Victorian feel. Standefer explained that the Aga functioned more or less like the Owens’ shrine, given that it's where they placed the cauldron and cooked up most of their spells.

Even the wallpaper had a significant meaning to the story. The aunts being nature lovers inspired the set designers to go for a design depicting birds entangled in vines.

Sally laments her misfortunes scene in Practical Magic

Sedge Building (Little Red Hen Bakery)

Sally had it rough since losing her parents but at least she always had her sister to rely on. That’s until Gilly moved away, and it didn’t get any better after she got hitched.

The kind man she met and married fell victim to their family’s centuries-old curse and died. It doesn’t help that the town has always ostracized the family because of their connection to the occult.

Blaming herself for her misfortunes, she tells one of her aunts, “Sometimes I feel like there’s a hole inside of me. An emptiness that at times seems to burn.”

It’s one of the scenes set at Sally’s Verbena Botanicals shop, and during filming, the Sedge Building stood in for the store. The Practical Magic location now stands as the Little Red Hen Bakery.

Located at 4 NW Front Street the Bakery is your one-stop-shop for all your baked goods ranging from fresh bread to pastries and pies. It’s worth a visit if you find yourself in Coupeville.

Farmer’s market scenes in Practical Magic

The Penn Cove Gallery, Downtown Coupeville

Just after the sisters moved in with their aunts, they soon found out that the household was precisely the kind of environment any kid would dream of. As they were told, “In this house, we have chocolate cake for breakfast, and never bother with silly little things like bedtimes or brushing our teeth.”

It doesn’t mean that the Owens didn’t stop by the farmer’s market for some fresh produce. Several scenes depicted them interacting with the townsfolks as this common ground.

Downtown Coupeville provided the setting for the farmer’s market seen in the film. The Penn Cove Gallery, at the corner of Front and Grace Street, currently sits on the empty lot that served as the Practical Magic film set.

The producers teamed up with the local farmers to spring the market to life. They sourced real produce as props, and the Penn Cove Shellfish reportedly donated seafood for those scenes. On top of that, they collaborated with local laborers for the prep work.

The cooperative art gallery opened its doors in 1994 and the artist members administer and staff the establishment. You’ll find selections of wood carvings, handwoven scarves, and stained glass at the gallery that make the perfect gifts or home décor.

Get to the Penn Cove Gallery via the 1 SB bus line from the Clinton Ferry Terminal or the 1NB or 6 buses from the Harbor Station Transfer Center at Bayshore Drive.

Margarita drinking scene in Practical Magic

Toby’s Tavern, Coupeville

Toby’s Tavern remains a local favorite watering hole, known for serving beer and Cove Mussels by the water. When the Practical Magic production team was in town, Toby’s served as the filming location for “The Catch and Fry” scenes.

In between filming, the film’s stars enjoyed hanging out on the spot. Speaking to King 5 for a piece about the film’s 20th anniversary, John Rodriguez recalls playing a friendly game of pool with Bullock. The star reportedly asked him to call her “Sandy.”

Though not filmed at the Tavern, the Tavern brings to mind the drinking scene. The Owens all woke up for a late-night drink accompanied by dancing. While mixing margaritas, one of the aunts delivers one of the film’s iconic lines.

“My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage.”

In the DVD commentary, Bullock said that Kidman was the one who supplied the “very bad tequila” they drank while filming that scene. It wasn’t just great acting, but the actresses got sloshed, and perhaps that’s why the insults they were slinging around flowed.

Sally falls in love again scene in Practical Magic

Kingfisher Books, Coupeville

Several buildings in Coupeville were painted white, and after filming, a number decided to keep the new paint job. Most businesses on Front Street got a fresh coat of paint, and false fronts were placed on some structures to create the magical on-screen town.

The Benson Confectionery building, now occupied by Kingfisher Books, was amongst the Practical Magic locations that weren’t modified for the shoot. The premises stood for Lesher’s Hardware Store scenes.

That brings us to one of the film’s other iconic scenes when Sally falls in love again. After losing her husband, she wasn’t exactly looking for love when it found her. Gary Hallet (Aidan Quinn), an investigator from Tucson looking into the disappearance of Gilly’s abusive boyfriend, ends up being the man who wins her heart.

Having a heart-to-heart, Sally explains, “There are things I know for certain: Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for luck, and fall in love whenever you can.”

Conclusion

If you choose to go on a Practical Magic location tour, you are now armed with a list of places worth visiting. Coupeville is where you’ll find several other buildings that were featured in the film.

Coupeville locals took part in the making of the movie as extras, and a few even got speaking roles. Several local kids also joined in the action, particularly for the scene where Sally’s daughters, Antonia (Alexandra Artrip) and Kylie (Evan Rachel Wood), are taunted in a sing-song style.

The John Robertson Houser, which now houses the Seaside Spa, is visible in that scene. A White picket fence the production team constructed between the Little Red Hen Bakery and Toby’s Tavern still stands.

Last but not least, the scene where Sally runs down a hill headed to town was filmed at a trail leading to the Town Park, and it passes by the Island County Museum.