Serendipity movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Serendipity filmed?

2001

About Serendipity

Serendipity is a 2001 romantic film directed by Peter Chelsom. It was written by Marc Klein and grossed $77.5 million on a $28 million budget, making it a favorite at the box office. Apart from being seen in theaters globally, Serendipity was loved by everyone on OTT and TV platforms.

The story starts with Johnathan "John' Trager (John Cusack) and Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) meeting each other for the first time during a Christmas shopping rush at Bloomingdale's in New York. They both try to buy the only pair of black cashmere gloves for their partners. Their attraction leads them to have dessert at a restaurant called 'Serendipity 3' where Sara and John discuss fate, destiny, and 'little things that shape decisions and lead to happiness.

After dessert, they return to Serendipity 3 to retrieve the articles they forgot. They decide to go ice skating, and John persuades Sara to give him her phone number. She writes her number down, but the wind blows it away, convincing Sara that fate wants them to back off from each other.

John disagrees, so Sara writes her number inside her copy of 'Love in the Time of Cholera,' and John writes his on a $5 bill, which they use to buy mints. She believes fate will reunite them only if it's meant to be. John still doesn't believe it, so Sara tells him to get into a separate elevator at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and press a random number. If they both push the same number, it's fate.

While they both press the same floor button, Sara reaches before him, and John takes a while (others get into the elevator on different floors), leading Sara to leave because fate and destiny don't want them to be together.

A few years later, when John and Sara are engaged to different people, fate brings them together again. John receives Sara's book as a gift from his fiancé, while Sara receives John's $5 bill as change at the same restaurant where they had dessert. Eventually, they find their way back to each other and live happily ever after.

City Locations

New York, San Francisco, Us, Toronto, Canada

Location Types

Architectural, American, Apartment, Artsy, Contemporary, House, Loft, Modern, Airports, Automotive, Coffee, Galleries, Hotels/ Motels, Restaurant, Retail, Studios

Location Styles

Airstream, Americana, Luxury Hotel, Modern Building, Modern Car, Office Building Style, Parking Lot, Plane

Serendipity Locations

Fans wanting to visit Serendipity locations should plan a trip to New York, US. The majority of the scenes between John and Sara are filmed here, with long conversations, desserts (remember the frozen hot chocolate?), and heated glances over snow. The ice-skating rink where they exchange information about each other is the Wollman Skating Rink. This rink is also famous as a filming location for Limitless, Love Story, Stepmom, Autumn in New York, and August Rush.

Another popular location where the elevator scene and John and Halley's wedding nearly took place is the Waldorf Astoria, New York. It was also the shooting location for Catch Me If You Can, The Godfather III, The Royal Tenenbaums, Scent of a Woman, The Great Gatsby, Maid in Manhattan, and more.

The Serendipity action scenes aren't visible, but there were plenty of dangerous shots because of the snow and slippery streets. While most filming was in New York, other crucial locations were San Francisco, California, and Toronto, Canada.

In Canada, the interiors were filmed at Showline Studios, now Studio City Toronto, while some scenes were shot at the picturesque Uxbridge, a township 40 miles away from Toronto.

Teaser: The scene where John wanders around aimlessly is filmed at the stunning Central Park in Manhattan. Fans should definitely take a stroll, have a picnic, and click beautiful photos.

Fun fact:

All the Serendipity film scenes were completed before 9/11. Since the movie was released after the terrorist attacks, the World Trade Center was digitally erased from all the film shots.

John and Sara shopping for black cashmere gloves scene in Serendipity

Bloomingdale's, 1000 Third Avenue 59th Street and, Lexington Ave, New York, NY

Johnathan Trager picks up a pair of black cashmere gloves when he sees another lady also pick up the same pair. He says, "Sorry. You go ahead. They're the last ones." The lady, Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale), says, "No, no, sorry." John asks the salesperson (Lilli Lavine), "Uh, miss? Can we have another pair of these black cashmere gloves?" She replies, "Whatever's out is what we have." Sara asks persistently, "You don't have a stock room?" The salesperson replies, "Nope," and walks away.

John very gallantly says to Sara, "Listen, you take them. I don't need them." She responds, "No, no, no, no. You saw them first." He keeps the gloves back up, and suddenly an elderly gentleman comes and happily grabs them. John tries to stop him, but the gentleman gets into an animated debate about how the gloves are just there with their price tags on.

This lovely exchange is one of the best scenes in Serendipity. Audiences see the sparks fly between John and Sara and the looks they give each other over the black cashmere gloves. This scene is filmed at the prestigious Bloomingdale's flagship store in New York. To get here, catch MTA M101 and hop off at the 3rd Ave/ 5th St stop. Bloomingdale's is a three-minute walk from here.

John and Sara share a dessert scene in Serendipity

Serendipity 3, 225 E 60th St, New York, NY

John and Sara share a dessert in a restaurant in New York. Sara tells John, "Serendipity. It's one of my favorite words." John asks her, "It is? Why?" She replies, "It's such a nice sound for what it means – a fortunate accident. Except I don't really believe in accidents. I think fate is behind everything." John mocks her, "Oh, you do? Fate's behind everything?" Everything is predestined? We don't have any choice over anything at all?" Sara refutes his claims, "No, I think we make our own decisions. I just think that fate sends us little signs, and it's how we read the signs that determine whether we're happy or not."

John looks at her and says, "Fortunate accidents. Lucky discoveries. Like Columbus in America." Sara says, "Yea or Fleming discovering penicillin." They continue this banter and exchange while enjoying their dessert. Audiences can see that John and Sara fall for each other a little bit every time.

This filming location of Serendipity is the famous restaurant at 225 East 60th Street, Serendipity III. The name is how the conversation about fate and choice comes into play. To get here, hop onto MTA number 4 and hop off at the 59th St Lexington Ave stop. The restaurant is a 4-minute walk from this stop at a medium pace.

John and Sara enjoy ice skating scene in Serendipity

Wollman Skating Rink, 830 5th Ave, New York, NY

John and Sara are ice skating in New York when he suddenly turns to her and says, "Now, promise me you're not just visiting here for a week or marrying somebody to get a green card or on parole." Sara smiles and replies, "None of the above. You?" He's miffed and says, "No, no, no. Proud US citizen, no criminal record. You won't tell me your name, then tell me, what do you miss most about Mother England?"

Since Sara has a British accent, it is evident that she's from across the pond. She says, "I miss my mum terribly." John looks at Sara and says, "If I were her, I'd miss you too." She just blushes gorgeously and looks away from him. She changes the topic and instead asks John, "Okay. Favorite movie?" He thinks for a second and blurts, "The correct answer is 'Cool Hand Luke.'"

This gorgeous scene is filmed at the Wollman Skating Rink. Of all the Serendipity filming locations, this one is naturally so beautiful that the crew did not need to make any changes to the surroundings. To get to Wollman's, catch the MTA M1 and hop off at 5th Ave/ E 63rd St, and walk for a minute to reach.

John searches for a scarf scene in Serendipity

33 St. Subway Station, 2 Park Ave, New York, NY

John is dejected and yells at the cab, "That's it?" and kicks some snow off the sidewalk. It hits another couple walking past. John is instantly contrite and runs to them, saying, "Jesus! I'm so sorry. I'm sorry." He then wanders around and reaches the entrance to the Subway. He goes down the subway stairs and suddenly halts, touching his throat. He realizes he's missing his scarf.

He heads back the way he came and re-enters Serendipity III. John tells the Maitre d' (Stephen Bruce), "I think I left my scarf." He checks and replies, "No, there's nothing here. You can go upstairs. Maybe it's still there." John runs up the stairs.

While John is down, Sara walks to the Christmas tree to pick up her bag, and as she lifts it, she sees John's scarf. She smiles, picks it up, turns around, and sees John looking at her. They greet each other, and Sara places the scarf around John's neck.

For the contemplation scene where John is walking, the Serendipity production team chose the location of the Subway at Park Avenue and East 33rd Street, New York. The fastest way to get here is to hop onto MTA number 4 and get off at 33rd St.

John and Sara tempt destiny scene in Serendipity

Waldorf Astoria New York, 301 Park Ave, New York, NY

After getting the cashmere gloves, Sara tells John to go to the other end of the elevator and randomly press a button to see if they both reach the same floor. She tells John, "Okay. Get in. Take a breath and when the door closes, hit a button." John is confused and asks her, "I don't understand this." Sara understands and responds, "You don't have to understand it. You just have to have faith." John yells, "Faith in what?!" Sara smiles, "Destiny."

As the elevator doors close, Sara looks at him and says, "Hey! It's Sara. My name's Sara." As the doors shut, she presses the button to the 23rd floor. John stares at the elevator buttons frustratedly, but he also pushes the button to floor 23. As the elevator reaches the 14th floor, a kid and his dad walk into John's elevator.

Of all the funny scenes in Serendipity, this one takes the cake since the kid in the Halloween costume presses the buttons on all floors, driving John insane. This hilarious scene is filmed at the Waldorf Astoria New York at 301 Park Avenue, Manhattan. Getting here quickest by catching MTA number 7 to Grand Central – 42nd St, and walking for 8 to 10 minutes.

John hears the name 'Sara' everywhere scene in Serendipity

Studio City Toronto, 915 Lake Shore Blvd E, Toronto, ON M4M 1B4, Canada

John is set to get married to Halley Buchanan (Bridget Moynahan) in three days. However, he keeps hearing the name 'Sara' everywhere he goes – the golf course, his hairdresser, the cyclist singing next to him! He goes out of his mind and tells the taxi driver, "Forget Charles Street, take me to the New York Times Building on 42nd." Once John reaches, he walks toward Dean Kansky (Jeremy Piven) and narrates everything happening. John says, "I'm telling you; I keep running into her, keep finding her… the universe keeps revealing her to me. Sara! Sara! Sara!" Dean tries to reason with John, "You're getting married in three days!" John says, "Yeah! I know!" Dean ignores him and continues, "It's entirely duplicitous, think about it. Why would you risk your relationship with Halley just to search for some pipe dream?"

Many Serendipity locations are filmed at Showline Studios (now Studio City Toronto) at 915 Lake Shore Boulevard East. This scene is also filmed in the studio. Fans should hop onto bus 72B, hop off at Carlaw Ave at Lake Shore Boulevard East, and walk for 3 – 4 minutes at a medium pace.

Conclusion

Serendipity, as the name suggests, was a film enjoyed by everyone who saw it. While some critics did point out that everything shown in the movie was a tad too 'serendipitous,' it made the entire storyline believable. Romantic dramas that are not only comedies are hard to find nowadays, and Serendipity is one of the few that lived up to its name, made people fall in love with the characters, and built a new tale about love.

The actors did a fantastic job, and the film shoot locations were absolutely on point throughout the film. The scenes filmed at recognizable locations in New York, Toronto, and San Francisco added greater depth and meaning to the plotline and helped bring the entire theme of the movie together.

The scenes at Wollman Ice Rink, Newark Liberty International Airport, Central Park, Serendipity III, and the San Francisco Bay Bridge were noteworthy for their cinematographic excellence. Overall, Serendipity was easy on the eyes, enjoyable, and made a favorable lasting impression.