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This Movie Magic Roadtrip Will Take You To 17 Iconic Movie Locations In California

Ready for some movie magic?

Well, California has a lot of it.

And as the home of Hollywood, there’s no surprise that there are so many locations in the Golden State where directors have chosen to film their works of art.

So in this post, we’re revealing 17 locations in California that have featured in iconic movies or TV shows.

From Sci-Fi hits like “Star Trek”, “Star Wars” and “Bladerunner”, to classics like “The Birds”, “Forrest Gump” and “Some Like It Hot”, this list has it all.

movie road trip google maps graphic

Have you been to all of these locations?

1. Fern Canyon – Jurassic Park

Fern Canyon, with its lush, green walls covered in ferns, was a primeval backdrop in “Jurassic Park: The Lost World.”

fern canyon

This natural wonder is located in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in Humboldt County and it offers a glimpse into what the world might have looked like millions of years ago.

Hiking through Fern Canyon feels like an adventure through time, where dinosaurs might appear around any corner!

2. Redwood National and State Parks – Star Wars

Redwood National and State Parks in California are home to some of the tallest trees in the world and served as the backdrop for the forest moon of Endor in “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.”

Redwood National Park

Walking among these ancient giants, you can easily imagine yourself on the set of a Star Wars movie, dodging speeder bikes and stormtroopers.

speeder redwoods

This park not only offers a connection to iconic film history but also provides a breathtaking experience of nature’s majesty.

3. Potter Schoolhouse and Bodega Bay – The Birds

The Potter Schoolhouse in Bodega, California, became famous because of the creepy and suspenseful movie “The Birds,” directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

This old schoolhouse added to the eerie atmosphere that made the movie a classic.

Bodega Bay is a small, quiet fishing village that was turned into a place of suspense and mystery in the film.

bodega bay california

Visitors today can see the historic building and imagine the thrilling scenes that took place right where they stand.

4. Muir Woods National Monument – Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Muir Woods National Monument is a peaceful forest known for its towering redwoods and has been featured in films like “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

Muir Woods National Monument

This serene location provides a perfect setting for scenes that require awe-inspiring natural beauty.

Muir Woods National Monument

Walking among these ancient trees, visitors can feel like they’re stepping into a movie set, surrounded by nature’s majesty.

5. Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco) – X-Men

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is one of the most iconic landmarks in the U.S. and has appeared in movies like “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “The Rock.”

golden gate bridge flowers in foreground

This famous bridge’s striking red color and majestic structure make it a symbol of San Francisco, drawing both filmmakers and tourists.

Whether seen on screen or in person, the Golden Gate Bridge captures the imagination and the spirit of the city.

6. Lombard Street (San Francisco) – Vertigo

Lombard Street in San Francisco, with its tight turns and beautiful flowers, is known as the “crookedest street in the world” and has been a backdrop in movies like “Vertigo.”

lombard street san francisco

This famous street adds charm and character to scenes, showcasing the unique city layout.

Tourists flock here to drive down its eight sharp turns and experience a piece of movie history.

7. Big Sur – Big Little Lies

Big Sur’s dramatic coastline and towering cliffs have made it a favorite location for TV shows and movies looking to capture the raw beauty of nature.

Examples include the show “Big Little Lies” and the movie “The Sandpiper.”

big sur coastline

Its untouched natural beauty offers a stunning backdrop for stories of romance and adventure.

Visitors to Big Sur can enjoy the same spectacular views and serene atmosphere that have enchanted movie audiences for years. 

8. Alabama Hills – Iron Man, Lone Ranger

Alabama Hills is a rugged and beautiful area in California that has been the backdrop for many movies and TV shows.

alabama hills, lone pine, california

Films like “Iron Man,” “Django Unchained,” and classics from the “Lone Ranger” series have all been shot here, making the most of its stunning natural scenery and unique rock formations.

Nestled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this location has been a favorite among directors looking to capture the wild spirit of the American West.

9. Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park (Agua Dulce) – Star Trek

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is known for its dramatic rock formations, making it a popular location for movies and TV shows.

Examples include the likes of “The Flintstones” and “Star Trek”.

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park

Its alien-like landscape has been the backdrop for many adventures on the big and small screen.

This park is a favorite for hikers and sci-fi fans alike, offering stunning views and a taste of Hollywood history.

10. Griffith Observatory (Los Angeles) – La La Land

Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles is a place where you can star-gaze, but it’s also starred in movies like “La La Land” and “Rebel Without a Cause.”

griffith observatory

Its iconic dome and spectacular views of Los Angeles have made it a symbol of the city in film.

It’s a must-visit for anyone wanting to see one of LA’s most filmed locations and maybe catch a bit of movie magic themselves.

11. Bradbury Building (Los Angeles) – Blade Runner

The Bradbury Building (built in 1893) in Los Angeles is famous for its unique interior, with intricate ironwork and natural light.

It has been featured in movies like “Blade Runner” and “(500) Days of Summer,” where its distinctive look added to the films’ atmospheres.

This historic building is a favorite for filmmakers wanting to add a touch of elegance and mystery.

12. Los Angeles City Hall (Los Angeles) – Superman

Los Angeles City Hall is a towering building that directors have been drawn to.

For example, in the old Superman TV series, it was used as the Daily Planet building.

los angeles city hall

Its grand appearance made it the perfect stand-in for the Daily Planet, where Clark Kent worked as a reporter.

When you see City Hall, it’s fun to think about Superman’s heroic flights happening right in downtown L.A.

13. Santa Monica Pier (Santa Monica) – Forrest Gump

Santa Monica Pier is a vibrant spot that has appeared in movies like “Forrest Gump” and TV shows like “90210.”


With its famous Ferris wheel and arcade games, the pier captures the fun and excitement of California’s coast.

It’s a place where visitors can enjoy the same beautiful views and attractions seen in their favorite films and shows.

14. Venice Beach (Los Angeles) – Baywatch

Venice Beach is known for its lively boardwalk, muscle beach, and unique street performers, making it a colorful backdrop for films like “White Men Can’t Jump” and scenes from “Baywatch.”

venice beach

This beach showcases the diverse and vibrant culture of Los Angeles, attracting visitors who want to experience the energy seen on screen.

Whether you’re looking to skate, surf, or just watch the world go by, Venice Beach is a place where the spirit of L.A. comes to life.

15. Venice Canals (Venice, Los Angeles) – Starsky and Hutch

The Venice Canals in Venice, Los Angeles, offer a slice of Italian charm and have been featured in films like “Valentine’s Day”.

They’ve also been in TV shows like “Californication” and “Starsky and Hutch”.

Venice Canal Historic District Los Angeles

These beautiful waterways give the area a unique look that’s perfect for cinematic scenes.

venice canals los angeles

Walking along the canals, it’s easy to see why filmmakers choose this picturesque location.

16. The Queen Mary (Long Beach) – Pearl Harbor

The Queen Mary in Long Beach is a historic ocean liner that’s now a hotel and museum, and it has been the setting for movies like “The Aviator” and “Pearl Harbor”.

queen mary long beach

Its elegant and timeless design transports visitors and viewers back in time.

Exploring its decks, you can almost hear the echoes of Hollywood and the stories that have unfolded here.

Aside from being in movie scenes, the Queen Mary is also actually one of the most haunted places in California.

17. Hotel del Coronado (Coronado, California) – Some Like It Hot

Hotel del Coronado is not just a luxurious beach resort; it’s also a star in movies like “Some Like It Hot” with Marilyn Monroe.

hotel coronado

Its stunning Victorian architecture and beachfront setting make it a timeless location for some movie magic.

some like it hot

Visiting the hotel is like stepping into a glamorous film from Hollywood’s golden age.

Sophie Davis

Born and raised in the Bay area of California, Sophie is a California native. She joined our team in 2023 to create travel guides on California.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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