In the 1998 film “Primary Colors,” John Travolta plays Governor Jack Stanton, a Southern politician with many similarities to Bill Clinton. Stanton serves Thanksgiving dinner on the front lawn with his wife, played by Emma Thompson, at the Banning House in Wilmington, California. Built in 1863, the property was also seen in the 1992 Danny Aiello film “Ruby,” as well as 1995’s “Tales From the Hood” and the TV shows “Quantum Leap” and “Bronk.” The house currently operates as a museum and is open the the public.
LOCATION: 401 E M St, Wilmington, CA 90744
Late in the film, Stanton visits the home of Governor Fred Picker. Picker’s house was filmed at the Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana. The plantation is likewise open to public tours. This house and its distinct row of trees can actually be seen from the road of LA-18. However, you might find it difficult to stop and get a photo, as there is no parking along the street. The plantation was also famously used in the film “Interview With The Vampire.”
The challenge in capturing the filming locations for a TV series such as “True Detective” is that the list become so voluminous, the pursuit can become staggering. We did our best to capture as many of the most well-known spots as we could, but it remains an ongoing progress. This only covers the first season. We’ve split the locations up by episode as well, but some of course appear over numerous episodes.
Season one, starring Matthew McConaughey as Rust Cohle and Woody Harrelson as Marty Hart, is set against the green, empty landscapes and the industrial detritus of the Southern Louisiana bayou. The story immerses us in the lives of two detectives over a span of seventeen years, as they try to solve a murder investigation.
The series shot all over Southern Louisiana, mostly in the small towns surrounding New Orleans. Many of the locations chosen are impressive, as some are so far off the beaten path, they’re certainly not your run of the mill places for a big budget production to film. Some spots are actually quite a challenge to access and others aren’t the safest of places. We’ll attempt to break it all down.
Episode One – “The Long Bright Dark”
The detectives are introduced to the case in 1995, when they discover the body of Dora Lang under a tree. The tree in question is found at the Oak Alley Plantation. Many productions have shot there, including “Interview With The Vampire,” “Primary Colors” and more. While the plantation is open to tours, this tree is not included on their tours. Most plantations in Louisiana run several miles deep, full of sugarcane or other crops. This tree is located back in the farming area of the property. You can in fact drive on a bit of the plantation’s dirt roads, but you’ll not likely access the tree from the main entrance of Oak Alley along LA-18, as the roads to most of the crops are usually gated off. The tree is much closer to LA-3127 on the back side of the plantation.
LOCATION: GPS coordinates: 29°58’16.71″N, 90°46’9.32″W. The front end of the plantation is at 3645 LA-18, Vacherie, LA 70090, but the tree is located deep in the property, near the intersection of LA-3127 and Oak Alley Dr (the latter being an unmarked dirt road).
Marty and Rust work at the Criminal Investigative Unit, which can be found in New Orleans. This building is actually tucked back a bit from the road, past a couple other parking lots, so you may not immediately spot it upon first approach.
LOCATION: 155 Brookhollow Esplanade, New Orleans, LA 70123
Later in the series, Marty and Rust get into altercation in the parking lot out front.
Episode Two – “Seeing Things”
In the second episode, the detectives discover a second body at a burned out church. That church was a set constructed by the production, but the location it was built at can still be visited. Locating it is not the easiest of tasks, however. It can be found near the Bonnet Carre Spillway in LaPlace. From CC Rd, you must take a slight left up an unmarked embankment, just before you reach the railroad tracks. If you pass the tracks, you’ve gone too far. If you follow the dirt road a short distance to the GPS coordinates listed below, you’ll arrive at the correct spot. While it is not private property, depending on the weather conditions, you might not want attempt it. The dirt roads flood very easily and depending on the time of year, the place can be swarming with insects as well.
LOCATION: GPS coordinates: 30° 1’8.83″N, 90°26’19.35″W, down an unmarked dirt road, just off of CC Rd, LaPlace, LA 70068
Episode Three – “The Locked Room”
Marty lives at this house in the town of Marrero. The home is seen several times in the series, such as when Rust comes and mows Marty’s lawn, much to his anger.
LOCATION: 2541 Fawnwood Rd, Marrero, LA 70072
Rust visits the Light of the Way Christian Academy where (*spoilers*) he unknowingly speaks to the killer, Errol Childress, who is mowing the lawn. Marty calls Rust away none the wiser as they follow a lead on Reggie LeDoux. The building itself is the Old Kenner High School in Kenner, which was subject to a fire by arson in 2018. This is what’s left of the building in the wake of the fire, the remnants of which, in all likelihood, will eventually be demolished.
LOCATION: 1601 Reverend Richard Wilson Dr, Kenner, LA 70062
Episode Four – “Who Goes There”
Rust meets Marty’s wife Maggie, played by Michelle Monaghan, at this diner and donut shop, where he informs her that Marty wants to see the kids while they are separated.
LOCATION: 7271 Jefferson Hwy, Harahan, LA 70123
Things take a darker turn when Rust goes undercover as “Crash” to reconnect with a biker gang known as the Iron Crusaders, in an attempt to find Reggie LeDoux. Rust heads to this biker bar, where he meets up with Ginger, a member of the gang. Marty arrives soon after looking for Rust, but he is quickly kicked out by the bikers. The building can be slightly tricky to find, as it sits behind a truck stop.
LOCATION: 65583 Pump Slough Rd, Pearl River, LA 70452
A view of the back of the property, where Rust makes a deal to help Ginger with a robbery, in exchange for a drug connection. Marty spots them boarding a boat just before he’s thrown out.
One of the most memorable sequences of the series is the six minute long, single take of Cohle and the Iron Crusaders robbing a drug house. Recreating the shot is no easy task. While set in Beaumont, Texas, the scene was actually filmed in Woodland Acres, a low-income housing unit located in Westwego, Louisiana. While nowhere near as extreme as what’s depicted on the show, it is nevertheless a tough neighborhood where tourism is certainly not common. There are only a few streets and all of them loop back together, meaning there is one way in and one way out (bad spot for a robbery, as the characters in the show quickly discover). Many of the residents like to sit outside and, due to the very self-contained layout, you will undoubtedly attract attention if you visit. Walking around photographing their properties, the reaction can be unpredictable. Sound judgment should be used as to how much you choose to impose. Another challenge is simply figuring out where all the shots take place. Even with plenty of research and preparation, it still takes a bit of time to figure out your bearings once you’re there. Other than one or two minor shots, which we voluntarily refrained from as not to be too disruptive to the tenants, we were more or less able to capture what we wanted unimpeded. However, prospective visitors should be aware your experiences may differ from ours, so use caution.
The Iron Crusaders pose as police officers with a shotgun held on one of the drug dealers, as they force their way into this drug house.
LOCATION: 212 Jackson St, Westwego, LA 70094
As the robbery proceeds, an angry crowd gathers outside and their control of the situation unravels after one of the robbers opens fire. Bullets flying, Cohle, no longer concerned with his cover, immediately turns on the Crusaders and takes Ginger hostage, as he still needs the information on LeDoux. Cohle and Ginger spill out the back door of the same apartment.
The camera pans up to see a police helicopter arriving above. Rust kicks in the back door of this adjacent unit with Ginger in tow, as he makes a call to Marty to pick them up at a nearby street.
LOCATION: 205 Lake St, Westwego, LA 70094
They make their way out the front door of the same building when Cohle is struck in the back with a baseball bat by one of the gang members. He fights off the assailants and pistol whips them in this front yard.
Rust and Ginger hide behind a bush as gang members and cops both head down Alaska Street to the scene of the robbery.
LOCATION: Alaska St, next to 202 Lake St, Westwego, LA 70094
Rust and Ginger run over to this unit, where they hide right behind the divider wall, as armed gang members spill out from the unit right behind them, looking to defend their turf.
LOCATION: 710 Texas St, Westwego, LA 70094
They then hurry over to this fence on the same property and climb it.
They cross through the grassy area on the right, where Marty picks them up to narrowly escape the chaotic scene.
Rust takes Ginger to Sportsman’s bar, where Ginger reluctantly introduces him to Dewall LeDoux, Reggie’s cousin and cook partner. In reality, this is a composite of two locations. The exterior is actually a sporting goods and bait shop, while the interior is the Spillway Bar (15641 US-61, Norco, LA 70079), located just a short distance away.
LOCATION: 15611 US-61, Norco, LA 70079
The compound of Reggie LeDoux, where more violence occurs and LeDoux gives his “time is a flat circle” speech, was in fact a set built by the production. The set was built off of Florissant Hwy in the town of St Bernard.
Episode Six – “Haunted Houses”
Marty stops for a drink at what was formerly Fox & Hound. There he meets Beth by chance, a former teenage prostitute who he once helped out, and the two have a conversation over drinks. The building has since been remodeled a bit and is currently a discount shop. It can be found in the Elmwood Shopping Center in New Orleans.
LOCATION: 1200 S Clearview Pkwy, New Orleans, LA 70123
Marty and Beth meet up for more drinks, before heading back to Beth’s place. In the show, the bar is depicted as “The Keg,” but it’s actually the Rickshaw Lounge in Harahan.
LOCATION: 378A Hickory Ave, Harahan, LA 70123
Episode Seven – “After You’ve Gone”
Rust follows a lead and meets a transvestite prostitute at the Dragon’s Den in New Orleans, located not far from the famous French Quarter.
LOCATION: 435 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116
Rust breaks into the home of Billy Lee Tuttle, where he obtains incriminating photos and videos.
LOCATION: 4717 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115
Seventeen years after the murder of Dora Lang, Hart and Cohle resume their investigation at Marty’s private investigation business, Hart Investigative Solutions.
LOCATION: 5703 Read Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70127
In 2012, an older, alcoholic Cohle now works as a bartender at this bar, known as Fisherman’s Wharf.
LOCATION: 4381 Bayou Gauche Rd, Des Allemands, LA 70030
Rust lives in this small house, which is located directly behind the Fisherman’s Wharf bar location.
LOCATION: 4381 Bayou Gauche Rd, Des Allemands, LA 70030 (behind the Fisherman’s Wharf building)
Gilbough and Papania, the two detectives interviewing Rust and Marty throughout the series, encounter the killer, Errol Childress and much like Cohle, are unaware of his true identity. Errol is mowing the Fleming Cemetery in Jean Lafitte. It is located very close to the filming location for Errol’s house.
LOCATION: Fleming Cemetery, Jean Lafitte, LA 70067 (GPS coordinates: 29°44’39.12″N, 90° 8’4.91″ W)
Episode Eight – “Form And Void”
In the final episode, Errol is seen on a ladder painting a school where children are playing. The building can be found at the Buddy Lawson Playground in the town of Kenner.
LOCATION: 1800 Short St, Kenner, LA 70062
Another view of the building.
As the series reaches it’s climax, Marty and Rust finally make it to the home of the killer, Errol Childress. The house has been renovated a bit from how it appeared in the show, with a staircase notably being added. Otherwise, it appears more or less the same. This portion of the house is unfortunately not visible from the road and sits on private property.
LOCATION: 2258 Jean Lafitte Blvd, Jean Lafitte, LA 70067
Errol flees into the tunnels of Carcosa, which is actually the ruins of Fort Macomb State Historic Site in New Orleans. Unlike the layout depicted in the show, the ruins are quite a distance away from Errol’s house. Built in 1822 by the United States, the fort was intended to defend the port of New Orleans from potential invading forces. The fort was decommissioned in 1871. Since then, there have been some attempts to open it up for public tourism, but due to the condition of the ruins, it has unfortunately been deemed unsafe for tourism at this time. Today, the area is surrounded by barbed wire fencing and is not open to the public. In spite of that, people seem to regularly manage their way onto the grounds, as it has been well documented by urban explorers and locals. The ruins have appeared in a few other productions as well, including “NCIS: New Orleans” and Beyonce’s music video “Lemonade.”
You can actually see the perimeter of the ruins along the water on public property, but not the inner tunnels seen in the show. A tip for anyone considering visiting this general area, since the grounds are not currently maintained, they can become overgrown and the presence of insects is significant, especially in the summer months. Winter is a bit more suitable.
LOCATION: Fort Macomb State Historic Site, New Orleans, LA 70129 (GPS coordinates: 30° 3’53.30″N, 89°48’15.16″W)
In the final scenes, Marty visits Rust at the “Lafayette General Hospital.” This is actually the St. Bernard Parish Hospital in Chalmette, located nowhere near Lafayette. The pair discuss light versus dark and each offers their perspective on which is winning.
LOCATION: 8000 W Judge Perez Dr, Chalmette, LA 70043
For as many places from the show as we captured, there remain just as many we didn’t. Visiting these spots can be both enjoyable and very challenging. Some places, we recommend only for the most avid of fans. Other spots, we suggest plenty of research and preparation before visiting. It is a unique way to explore the Southern Louisiana bayou and you can take the odyssey as far as you want to go with it. For us, it served as one of the most extensive location searches we’ve ever done.
In the 1994 Neil Jordan adaptation of Anne Rice’s “Interview With The Vampire,” Louis, played by Brad Pitt, recounts his story to Malloy, played by Christian Slater at this San Francisco hotel.
LOCATION: 1020 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Louis lives at this estate, which is the Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana. The plantation is open to public tours. This house and its distinct row of trees can actually be seen from the road of LA-18. However, you might find it difficult to stop and get a photo, as there is no parking along the street. The same home was also seen in the 1998 film “Primary Colors.”
LOCATION: 3645 LA-18, Vacherie, LA 70090
In the film’s closing scenes, Malloy is unexpectedly met by Lestat, played by Tom Cruise, as they cross the Golden Gate Bridge.