Radio Flyer movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Radio Flyer filmed?

1992

About Radio Flyer

In the opening Radio Flyer film scene (spoiler alert!), Mike notices his two boys fighting. One of his sons shares that promises hold no value. To assist them with the understanding that promises are very meaningful, Mike shares with them a tale from his childhood. The year is 1969, and Mike is 11 years old. He, his brother Bobby, his mom, and their beloved German Shepherd make the move from New Jersey to Novato, California after their father abandons their family.

Mary meets and marries another man, Jack Mackenzie, who the children nickname “The King.” Without Mary’s knowledge, Jack frequently becomes drunk and abuses Bobby. Bobby, noticing his mom is happy with Jack, tells Mike he cannot tell anyone about the beatings.

The boys distract themselves with adventures. The two boys talk about the “seven great abilities and fascinations” of youth as they explore their neighborhood and avoid bullies. When Bobby is accidentally left alone with Jack, the abuse escalates to the point Billy has to go to the hospital for treatment.

Shane, protecting his owner, bites Jack on his arm. Jack goes to jail but is allowed out when his mother passes away. He returns home, vowing never to drink again, but he lacks the ability to fulfill his promise. He attacks Shane and nearly kills him. The brothers come up with a strategy to allow Bobby to be free from Jack’s abuse forever. Mary becomes aware of Jack’s abusive side and asks him for a divorce.

The two boys take their inspiration from a tale of a child named Fisher who tried to take his bicycle across a cliff called “The Wishing Spot.” They decide to turn their Radio Flyer wagon into a plane so that Bobby and Shane can permanently escape Jack. They draw up a plan and use Jack’s tools to put their invention together. The boys begin to raise funds for additional money to help finish their project.

Penning a goodbye letter for their mother, the boys take their “plane” to the cliff one evening. Jack becomes aware of their plans and tries to stop them. Shane attacks him. Bobby races down the hill and knocks Jack unconscious with his plane. He takes flight as Mike and Shane watch. Mary comes to the scene with a police officer who promptly arrests Jack. Mike and Bobby never see each other again though periodically Mike receives postcards from him from various places around the globe.

In his final narration, Mike tells his sons that keeping promises is very important and reminds them that history lives in the mind of the person telling the tale.

City Locations

Northern California: Columbia, Novato, Tomales

Location Types

NatureScapes, House, Schools/Colleges, Airports

Location Styles

Americana/Anywhere America, Dated/50's-60's-70's Building, Junkyards, Plane/Helicopter Style

Radio Flyer Locations

Filmed in 1992, Radio Flyer is a beloved classic movie created by filmmaker Richard Donner. Jam-packed with an all-star cast that includes such powerhouse actors as Lorraine Bracco, John Heard, Elijah Wood, Joseph Mazzello, Adam Baldwin, and Ben Johnson, Radio Flyer’s voiceover parts were delivered by the mellifluous tones of none other than Tom Hanks.

The filming locations for Radio Flyer are primarily located in Northern California. Among the cities featured in this beloved classic film are Columbia, Novato, and Tomales. If you’re a true fan of nostalgia-filled films, a trip to visit the filming locations for Radio Flyer is not to be missed. It’s sure to be a memorable time.

Fun Fact:

Macaulay Culkin was one of many young actors who set their sights on the role of Mike in Radio Flyer.

The opening scene in Radio Flyer

Grant Avenue, Novato, California

In the very first scene in Radio Flyer, adult Mikey notices his sons are squabbling over a model airplane.

Mikey: What’s the problem?

Cole: Nothing…

Mikey: Then chill out.

Son #2: He promised to let me play with it, and now, he says he didn’t, and he won’t.

Mikey: Cole, did you?

Cole: Did I what?

Mikey: Did you promise?

Cole: Well, ya, but no big deal.

Mikey: Yes, it is. Yes, it IS a big deal. You can’t just say I promise then forget about it. A promise is the most important words you’ll ever say. Well, almost the most important words you’ll ever say.

This one scene sets the stage for the rest of the movie with the remainder of the film dedicated to adult Mikey relating important lessons from his childhood to his sons. To get to this Radio Flyer filming location, take bus lines 101 or 251 or the train’s SMART route.

Mary, Bobby, and Mikey say goodbye to their old town scene in Radio Flyer

Highway 1, Tomales, Marin County, California

Found at the very beginning of this movie, Mary, Bobby, and Mikey watch a lonely buffalo before packing up to head to California where they will begin a new life. As they travel the highway, they sing a happy song, and several swear words slip out of Bobby’s mouth, and he immediately apologizes while his mother hides a laugh and a grin. In one of the funniest scenes in Radio Flyer, the following narrative is heard in a voiceover done by the adult Mikey.

“Finally. After 22 jars of peanut butter and just as Mom ran out of money, we made it to the apartment of an aunt we didn’t even know we had.”

Found just outside San Francisco’s main attractions, you will easily connect with Highway 1 by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and heading into Marin County. Continue following this route until you reach the village of Tomales.

Bobby and Mikey are bullied by other school kids scene in Radio Flyer

Hilly area off highway 101 by Delong, Novato, California

Bobby and Mikey stand at the top of the hill holding play spears. They notice a group of boys gathered at the opposite end of the park and realize they are there to pick on them. In narration played over the top of the scene, the adult Mikey says.

“The way kids always know they’re in for it when bigger kids appear in front of them. It’s a sixth sense that you never lose. And we knew we were as good as dead.”

The bullies tell them that they are dead and race over to attack them. They notice that their wagon contains frogs and tells them that they can’t catch frogs without their permission. Shane begins to bark menacingly at the bullies, and this conversation ensues.

Bully #1: Uh, uh, hey, man! Tell your mutt to stay there, man.

Bobby: He ain’t a mutt. He’s a killer German Shepherd attack dog, and if you move any closer, he’ll kill you.

Bully #1: Okay, man. Just tell him to cool down. Tell him to stay there, alright?

Mikey: Say please.

Bobby: Say, pretty please.

Bully #1: Kiss my butt.

Bullies: Ya!

Mikey and Bobby: Okay, Shane! Kill!

Bullies: You’re dead meat. You’re dead a doornail.

Mikey and Bobby: Good boy, Shane! Good going!

This scene was filmed just outside the DeLong exit found on Highway 101. A natural space overlooking the highway, you will need to be prepared to do some uphill walking to get to this particular Radio Flyer location.

Jack abuses Bobby scene in Radio Flyer

401 Norman Drive, Rafael Village, Novato, California

Mary pulls out of the driveway and meets Jack in his work truck coming home after a long day on the job. He parks his vehicle in the driveway and enters the house where the boys are watching Frankenstein on TV. Jack grabs a beer from the fridge and then turns on his favorite song on this record player. He goes upstairs and storms into the living room, bursting in on the boys.

Jack: Hey! What are you doing up? Go to bed.

Mikey: Ya, but…

Jack: Not you. Mikey, go to bed. Bobby, come here!

Mikey: But I wanna stay…

Jack: Go to bed! Come here, Bobby…COME HERE!!!

Bobby gingerly walks toward Jack, and Jack starts to beat him, yelling at him with each hit.

Though this Radio Flyer location is now a private home, you can still stop by to view the exterior of the building that is also featured in the film. To get to this former Radio Flyer film set from nearby San Francisco, follow Van Ness Avenue to US-101. From the highway, take exit 459, traveling along Nave Drive to Enfrente Road. Continue onto Ignacio Lane, making the turn onto Norman Drive. The house is found just up the road.

The boys take their plane to the cliff scene in Radio Flyer

Slade Park, Novato, California

In one of the best scenes in Radio Flyer, Mikey and Bobby take their invention to the cliff where they have planned for Bobby to fly to his escape. The two boys unfold their plane and stand back to admire their handiwork. The boys exchange this dialogue.

Mikey: Wow! Gosh! She’s beautiful!

Bobby: She’s amazing.

Satisfied with their work, the boys happily shake hands.

Back at the house, Jack notices the note the boys left behind for Mary. He reads it and immediately takes off to find the boys.

Just off Novato Boulevard, you will find the exit for Delong on Highway 101. On a hill overlooking this exit, you will discover the Radio Flyer production location where this scene and several others in the film were shot.

Mikey and Bobby say goodbye in Radio Flyer

Hamilton Air Base (Hamilton Field History Museum), 555 Hangar Ave, Novato, CA

In the final shot of this film, we see one of the most touching Radio Flyer action scenes. Realizing his stepsons’ plans, Jack races to the hill to stop them. When he arrives, the boys are already watching the runways at the airport below, waiting for their opportunity to set their plane in flight. Mary returns home and can’t find anyone. She reads the note, left behind by the boys and realizes she needs to act quickly.

Mikey: There’s stamps in there for you to send me the postcards, and you better send them to us.

Mary races to a phone and calls the police. The boys embrace and cry.

Mikey: I wanna go too. I want to go.

Bobby: You can’t. You gotta stay home and take care of Mom.

Mikey: I’m gonna miss you.

Bobby: I’m…{breaks into tears}

The boys separate, and Bobby prepares to leave.

Bobby: So long, Shane. I love you. Take care of Bobby. Samson, be a good turtle. Have a good ride.

What used to be the Hamilton Air Force Base is now the Hamilton Field History Museum. However, inside, you can find all sorts of information on the airport in the 70s. Follow bus lines 101 or 49 or buy a ticket for the train, riding the SMART route.

Conclusion

A poignant coming-of-age story, Radio Flyer is a beloved classic film that has touched the heart of many viewers worldwide. With a stunning landscape that includes many recreational areas, cliffs, and suburban communities, the tone is perfectly set for this touching tale of two brothers bonded by love and heartbreak.

If you consider yourself a film buff with a love of 90s classics, why not take some time to visit the Radio Flyer filming locations? It’s sure to be a wonderful time!