California Dreamin’? When You Can’t Travel, Watch These Films To See Cinematic California

California is probably most loved and recognized for the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, but there is much more to the Golden State. Unfortunately, with the ongoing pandemic, it may be a while before your next visit to California, so you might have to make do with adoring it on your screen for now. Check out these films that feature California to get inspired for future travels.

Los Angeles, California

As the moviemaking capital of the world, Los Angeles has been made to look like countless other locales. Some weird, wacky, and wonderful movies have also been set in Hollywood. Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood does an incredible job of showcasing the look and feel of Hollywood in the 1960’s. Sites to look for in the film include the Cameron Nature Preserve in Malibu, the Paramount Drive-In Theatres (which is still going strong), and the Cinerama dome at ArcLight Cinemas.

Hollywood is a core part of the spirit of the aptly titled 2016 film La La Land; it has a lovely musical number set along Pasadena’s Colorado Street Bridge. Griffith Observatory is a key location of that movie and the Natalie Wood classic Rebel Without a Cause.

San Francisco, California

Vertigo, Hitchcock’s beloved 1958 suspense film, shows off the beauty of San Francisco as a backdrop to the suspenseful goings-on in the film. Significant scenes take plan on the Golden Gate Bridge and the bell tower of Mission San Juan Bautista.

Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco manages to be both a love letter to the city and an honest, eloquent critique of it. The moving, award-winning movie was shot entirely in San Francisco. Curbed reports that some of the locales in the movie were leveled before it was even released. Some locations that remain include the film’s most featured home at 959 South Van Ness and home at 881 Innes Avenue. Abandoned docks and a run-down cottage are across the street from the Innes Avenue locale, but the city has plans to transform this area to a planned development.

Other movies like Mrs. Doubtfire, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, So I Married an Axe Murderer, The Joy Luck Club, and The Pursuit of Happyness reveal different aspects of the city. Dirty Harry shows the cross at Mount Davidson and Vista Point that looks out over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Crescent City, California

Crescent City is a scenic spot that’s named for the crescent-shaped stretch of beach that’s situated south of the city. It’s known as the Redwood Gate to the Golden State, and much of Steven Spielberg’s classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was shot here and in the Redwood Forest. Other flicks that were filmed along the Redwood Coast include Jurassic Park: The Lost World and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

Beverly Hills, California

For a fun, fresh look at Beverly Hills in the 1980’s, watch the hilarious classic comedy Troop Beverly Hills. Shelley Long is one of the most brilliant comedic actresses of all time, and she shines in this film. The movie’s locales include the Beverly Hills Hotel and the shopping boutiques of Rodeo Drive. Yes, much of the film is a spoof, but strolling in Beverly Hills still offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Parts of Clueless were filmed in Beverly Hills, with a crucial scene being filmed at the Electric Fountain within the Beverly Gardens Park. The fountain features a sculpture by Robert Merrell Gage of a Tongva Native American tribal member. Other movies at least partially set in Beverly Hills include Anywhere but Here and Pretty Woman.

San Diego, California

The charm of the coastal city of San Diego can be seen in its many beaches and parks. Many movies have been made at the city’s Hotel del Coronado, including parts of Some Like It Hot and My Blue Heaven. Although Somewhere in Time was filmed in Michigan, the novel it’s based on was set at the Hotel del Coronado.  

The climactic scene of the classic 1976 Disney movie Freaky Friday was filmed at Mission Bay. Other movies shot in San Diego include Top Gun, Almost Famous, Traffic, and Anchorman. The 1953 science-fiction film Invaders from Mars was filmed partially at the Palomar Observatory.

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