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From our DC Tourism Guide, with budget advice, travel guides, and information about local Washington DC attractions.

Very few movies or TV series set in Washington, DC are actually filmed in the city. The cost of shooting in such an expensive area, combined with the prospect of facing loads of red tape and security protocol, usually drives film makers to opt for nearby Maryland or Virginia instead. Furthermore, most states offer an enticing tax break for production companies who choose to film there. For example, the movie Lincoln (which was shot entirely in Virginia) earned $4.5 million in givebacks from the state after production. Washington DC has not doled out any money in movie incentives since 2010.

House of Cards attempted to shoot a motorcade for season two, however the Metropolitan Police Department decided to yank the scene at the last minute as it did not fit within protocol. The show was able to film a motorcade driving through Washington, DC in October of 2014 for season 3, but it is one of the few times that the film crew entered the district.

In the first season, there was a scene shot at the Archives1622806_10100274034988663_492389515_n Metro Station in DC. However, the Cathedral Heights Metro Station that sets the stage for Frank and Zoe's last meeting in season two is a fictional station and was filmed in Baltimore. In fact, DC by Foot tour guide Canden, and her percussionist husband, Manny, are featured during that memorable metro scene! Manny is the bucket drummer that Zoe watches and you can see Canden on the platform and again in Episode Two's security footage!

A vast majority of House of Cards is filmed in Joppa, Maryland -- a suburb of Baltimore. There, film crews have constructed a soundstage that replicates the White House, as well as many other iconic DC buildings. Freddy's BBQ Joint -- a staple throughout season one and two -- is also a fictional restaurant in Baltimore.

The Washington Herald, which was an actual newspaper in DC from 1906-1939, is shot at the Baltimore Sun.

Locations in Opening Credits of House of Cards

Though most of the show is filmed in Baltimore, the opening credits feature shots of various significant sites in DC. The following is a list of the locations in the opening credits in order of their appearance:

  • View across the Potomac River of the National Mall and downtown Washington, DC.
  • Pennsylvania Avenue with the Capitol building in the distance. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (on the left and right sides of the road, respectively) are the two most prominent buildings in the shot.
  • View down North Capitol Street of the Capitol building.
  • Row houses along T Street in NW
  • Super Liquors at 1633 North Capitol St. NE, which has been in operation for nearly 70 years.
  • Another view down North Capitol.
  • Arches at Union Station.
  • Ronald Reagan International Trade Building
  • General Winfield Scott Hancock statue off of 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • Cavalry statue at the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial on the west front of the Capitol.
  • Another shot of the Grant Memorial.
  • View of DC from Rosslyn.
  • The headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • A different angle of the EPA.
  • Grand Army of the Republic Memorial at 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • John Marshall Park within the Judiciary Square neighborhood.
  • Memorial of Chief Justice John Marshall, who served as Supreme Court Judge from 1801-1835.
  • View of the Capitol building from beneath the overpass at L'Enfant Plaza.
  • Closer view of the Capitol from L'Enfant Plaza.
  • Woodward and Lothrop building (Woodies) at 10th and F.
  • Ulysses S. Grant Memorial.
  • Robbins Road along the Anacostia River.
  • Nationals Park in Southeast DC.
  • View across the Potomac of DC at night.
  • Pennsylvania Avenue
  • Building at 10th and G, which is home to the lobbying firm Podesta Group.
  • View from Union Station looking north.
  • Lion statue at the Grant Memorial.
  • Another shot of the lion statue.
  • Train tracks leading out from Union station.
  • Another shot of the train tracks.
  • Grant Memorial.
  • View of DC from Rosslyn.
  • Statue at Union Station
  • Kennedy Center of Performing Arts illuminated at night.
  • West front of the Capitol building.
  • Washington, DC

Interested in learning about real life Washington, DC scandals that rival those in House of Cards? Consider taking our Secrets and Scandals or Dark Side of Dupont and Embassy Row tours!

About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 28 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 4) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.
Updated: March 2nd, 2015
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