The American President movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was The American President filmed?


City Locations

Lake Tahoe, Northern California; Los Angeles, California; Washington, D.C.

Location Types

America, House, Apartment, NatureScapes, Buildings/Offices

Location Styles

Americana/Anywhere America, Federal Building, Office Building Style, Parking Lot

About The American President

In the opening The American President film scene, beloved President Andrew Shepherd, a Democrat, (spoiler alert!) is deep in his campaign for re-election. Alongside his staff, the president endeavors to improve his office’s approval rating by passing a bill for crime control. However, it is believed that the passing of the bill will ensure the president’s second term in office. The decision is made to make the bill public and then have it successfully pass in time for his State of the Union Address.

The president realizes he has been very lonely since the passing of his wife. He meets Sydney Ellen Wade, an attorney whose main focus is the environment. The two come to an agreement: if Wade can find 24 positive votes for her environmental initiative prior to the State of the Union Address, he will ensure she gets the remaining 10 votes she requires. MacInerney is convinced Wade will not be able to fulfill her end of the bargain.

Shepherd and Wade begin a romance. Senator Bob Rumson, the president’s opponent for the Oval Office, increases his attacks on the president, using Wade’s past against her. The President stands by Wade, causing his approval ratings to plummet and putting his crime bill in jeopardy.

Wade is discouraged when her meeting with several congressmen ends in failure. She informs the president that these men were intent on stalling both her environmental bill and the president’s crime bill. The president and his staff are uncomfortable about how they secured this information but move ahead anyway even though it may mean Shepherd must forfeit his agreement with Wade.

Wade is able to find the votes she needs for her bill, but Shepherd falls short by three votes. The only way he can gain the votes he requires for his crime bill is by deciding to stall Wade’s bill, effectively gaining the three Michigan congressmen’s vote for his initiative. He goes forward with that plan. Wade is fired for not meeting her company’s goals. She meets Shepherd, intending to terminate their relationship, claiming she is moving to Connecticut for a job. He stands firm on the importance of his crime bill. Wade informs him it has no bite and will not be effective.

The president visits the White House press room unannounced and takes Rumson to task for his unfounded comments about his values. He also shames Rumson for his attacks on Wade’s character. He vows to champion Wade’s environmental bill, pushing for a more aggressive agenda than Wade herself was seeking. He also shares that he is abandoning his crime bill in favor of one with stricter gun control regulations. His staff is motivated by his passion. The president and Wade reunite, and she walks with him to the House chamber where he is greeted by rousing applause as he prepares to commence his State of the Union Address.

The American President Locations

Filmed in 1995, The American President is a rom-com directed and produced by the filmmaker Rob Reinter with a screenplay penned by Aaron Sorkin. The all-star cast featured in this film includes Richard Dreyfuss, Michael J. Fox, Martin Sheen, and Michael Douglas.

The filming locations for The American President are mostly found in Northern California near Lake Tahoe. Is The American President one of your all-time fave films? If so, why not take a dream vacation to visit the filming locations for The American President? It could be the trip of a lifetime!

Fun Fact:

The American President was originally intended for Robert Redford.

The opening scene in The American President

Old Executive Office Building, 1650 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC

The president and his secretary walk the halls of the White House. His secretary briefs him on the day’s events. He meets his aide Lewis, and the two men discuss his approval rating and the subsequent crime bill. They continue to talk as they stroll across the grounds and back into the building, walking through the halls that lead to the Oval Office. In one of the funniest scenes in The American President, we see this dialogue between the two men.

Shepherd: Lewis, however much coffee you drink in the morning, I want you to reduce it by half.

Lewis: I don’t drink coffee, Sir.

Shepherd: Then hit yourself over the head with a baseball bat, would you, please?

Lewis: Yes, sir.

You have several different public transit options to reach the site of this beloved The American President filming location. Travel by bus, taking lines 32, 36, or MB, or by train on the Manassas Line. The metro also has several different routes that will take you to this destination including the Metrorail blue, orange, and silver lines.

President Shepherd meets Wade at the banquet for the president of France scene in The American President

The Willard Hotel, 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC

As the band plays the iconic strains of “Hail to the Chief,” the president and his guests make their way into the ballroom for dinner and dancing. Wade is seated next to the president at dinner, and she notes that the President of France and his wife appear bored. The following dialogue ensues.

Wade: Mr. President, the president, and Mrs. D’Astier look bored. They’re not talking to anybody.

Shepherd: They’re hammered. {Turning to the lady next to him} Esther, do you speak French?

Esther: Latin.

Shepherd: I thought you spoke French.

Esther: No, Latin.

Shepherd: Great, next time Julius Caesar comes to town, you’re our gal.

Wade strikes up a lively conversation in with the president in his wife in French, much to the surprise and delight of President Shepherd.

To visit the site of this The American President film set, you can travel by bus, taking lines 32 or 26, by train on the Fredericksburg Line, the Manassas Line, or the Marc, or by metro on the blue, orange, or silver line. Found just down the road from the Old Executive Building where the film commences, you can also just simply stroll down the avenue to reach the Willard Hotel on foot.

Wade returns President Shepherd’s call scene in The American President

312 E. Capitol Street SE, Washington, DC

In this The American President scene, Wade is in her pajamas in her home making a phone call to the president. She dials his number and waits for him to pick up the phone. She addresses him as Mr. President, and the two share this conversation:

Wade: Mr. President, uh, I’m sure there’s an appropriate thing to say at this moment. Probably some formal apology for the “nice *ss” remark would be in order. I just, I don’t quite know how to word it.

Shepherd: Nah, it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have called you at home. Shall I call you at the office tomorrow?

Wade: No, no…of course not. I mean, yes. You can call me any time you want. And this is fine; right now is fine. When I said of course not, I meant ye, that…you know what? The h*ll with it. I’m moving to another country.

A charming scene in which the chemistry between Wade and Shepherd quickly becomes apparent, this footage has become a fan favorite for many people.

To experience what it might have been like filming at this The American President location, why not stop by this spot for a visit? You can access this beautiful neighborhood by taking the U4 bus line or catching the metro’s blue or silver routes.

Wade confronts the president after losing her job scene in The American President

3343 P Street NW, Washington, DC

In this scene, Wade and the president are in her sister’s Georgetown home, Wade’s short-term borrowed residence. Wade is racing through the apartment, packing up her things. She berates him for burying her bill so that his bill can go forward. Wade is very upset, and Shepherd tries to get her to discuss the situation with him. The two engage in this discussion.

Shepherd: What do you think went on here today?

Wade: I know exactly what went on here today. I got screwed. You saw the polls. You needed the crime bill; you couldn’t get it on your own, so I got screwed.

Shepherd: The environment got screwed, Sydney. Nothing happened to you. Governing is choosing, governing is prioritizing. I’ve made no secret of the fact that the crime bill was my top priority.

Wade: Well, then congratulations. It’s only taken you three years to put together crime prevention legislation that has no hope of presenting crime.

Shepherd: Syd, please. I don’t want to lose you over this.

Wade: Mr. President, you’ve got bigger problems than losing me. You just lost my vote.

Want to visit the site of this iconic scene? You’ll have easy access to the home Wade lived in temporarily in The American President by following bus lines 33, 38B, D2, D6, G2, and RS-DP or taking metro lines blue, orange, red, or silver.

The president plans to win Wade back scene in The American President

Stage 28, Universal Studios - 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California

The president is in his office and requests a car to be dropped off at the White House. He plans to drive to Wade’s house to try to win her back. MacInerney tries to convince him that his driving through town without a security detail is not a wise move and may put him in jeopardy. The president insists that he is going anyway. This conversation follows.

MacInerney: Excuse me, Sir, where are you going?

Shepherd: I’m going over to her house. I’m going to stand outside at her door until she lets me in, and I’m not leaving until I get her back.

MacInerney: And how are you going to do that, Sir?

Shepherd: Well, I don’t haven’t worked that out yet, but I’m sure that groveling will be involved.

MacInerney: You’re just going to drive over?

Shepherd: A. J., I’m Commander in Chief of the most powerful army in the world. You don’t think I can drive ten blocks?

Wade {surprising the president and MacInerney by racing in the side door}: Just stay away from DuPont Circle. I hear it’s murder this time of day.

This scene was one of very few shots in this movie that was filmed on a sound stage at Universal Studios. Though the original set no longer remains, you can still pop by for a tour and see the place where movie magic was made in The American President. To get to Universal Studios, public transit is readily available. You can travel by bus on lines 222, 224/690, or 240 or on the subway’s B Line (Red).

The final scene in The American President

Old Executive Office Building, 1650 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC

This The American President production scene opens with the president giving a final speech in the White House press room prior to giving his State of the Union Address. In his speech, he addresses Rumson’s false allegations and attacks on both his and Wade’s character. Considered to be one of the best scenes in The American President, Shepherd says.

“The last couple of months Senator Rumson has suggested that being president of this country was to a certain extent about character. And although I have not been willing to engage in his attacks on me, I’ve been here three years and three days, and I can tell you without hesitation, being president of this country is entirely about character.”

Ironically, the last scene in The American President takes place at the same location as the very first filming sequence in this beloved movie. Be sure to take a stroll around the property surrounding the building to get a glimpse of the path that Shepherd walked with his aide Lewis en route to the Oval Office.


When it comes to charming rom-coms, it’s hard to beat what The American President has to offer. With a varied background that includes filming locations in Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, and Washington, DC, the landscape of this film is iconic, attractive, and authentic to government life in DC.

Excited to visit The American President filming locations? Our comprehensive guide will be an invaluable help in planning your itinerary.