LA’s Most Famous Film Locations


Ever since the first motion picture was filmed here in 1911, Los Angeles has been widely considered the movie capital of the world. Countless scenes have been shot away from movie studios in LA’s public spaces, residential areas and parks—places that everyone can visit on a regular basis. Although the glamorous perception of the film industry may intimidate the average sightseer, the following locations are frequented by locals and easy for anyone to access.

Griffith Observatory

A popular destination for locals and tourists alike, it’s a rare occasion to find the Griffith Observatory vacant. Whether it’s a public star party, sunset walk and talk, or meteor shower viewings, there’s always something stellar to do at the observatory.

One of the most iconic buildings in Los Angeles, the observatory is featured in several films, including The Terminator, Dragnet, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Transformers and Yes Man.

The Beverly Hills Hotel

The Beverly Hills Hotel’s exterior and interior have appeared in several movies throughout history, beginning with A Sailor-Made Man in 1923. Other films with scenes at the hotel include American Gigolo, Beverly Hills Cop II and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Since its establishment in 1912 (before Beverly Hills was a city), numerous celebrities and royals have spent the night, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe.

Even if visitors don’t plan to stay overnight, they can take advantage of the restaurants and bars on the premises, particularly the Polo Lounge which is one of the oldest still-operating eateries in the city.

The Bradbury Building

Built in 1893 by the real estate magnate Lewis Bradbury, the interior of the Bradbury building still maintains the original marble staircases, ornate railings and cage elevators that draw local photographers, camera crews, tourists and hungry diners on their way to the nearby Grand Central Market. Several movies were filmed there, including Chinatown, Wolf, Lethal Weapon 4 and The Artist. The LA Conservancy offers regular tours of the building and surrounding points of interests, while detailed maps on the organization’s website are ideal for anyone interested in exploring the site on their own.

Union Station

Serving over 1.5 million passengers every year, the station is one of the busiest train stations in the United States. Locals and tourists alike visit the station to admire the travertine marble, terra cotta tiles and wooden beamed ceiling of the Mission Revival and Streamline Modern style of the station’s waiting area and maybe even catch a train to different parts of the county.

The station makes an appearance in action films The Dark Knight Rises and Blade Runner and the drama Pearl Harbor. Set in 1940s Los Angeles, it was the perfect location for the opening sequence of Gangster Squad, as well.

Glen Capri Motel

Sitting on an unassuming plot of land in the suburbs of Glendale, the Glen Capri Motel hosted actresses Kate Hudson for Raising Helen, Jennifer Aniston in The Good Girl and Lindsay Lohan in Georgia Rule, among many more. While it is a popular film spot, it’s also a busy rest stop for tourists and businessmen who set up camp during their trips. On any given day, there’s the possibility of seeing a crew set up with cameras rolling, so guests may see movie magic in action if they’re lucky.

Venice Beach and Canals

Venice is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike with the beach freak scene along its boardwalk drawing thousands of tourists daily and a more subdued scene among the boutiques, galleries, and eateries along Abbott-Kinney. It’s also a popular film location with numerous productions taking place in Venice over the years, including much of the TV series Californiacation and movies White Men Can’t Jump, Charlie’s Angels, Falling Down, Grease, L.A. Story and many more.

Frank’s Coffee Shop and Restaurant

Featured in Larry Crowne with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, Frank’s Coffee Shop and Restaurant still flaunt its nostalgic 50s style. From the charming waitresses who have worked there for decades to the highly affordable and delicious early bird breakfast deals, this quaint café has a humble presence with star-like aspirations.

Original LA Flower Market and Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Valentine’s Day

The film Valentine’s Day starring Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, George Lopez, and Jennifer Garner was shot entirely at locations throughout LA. Early in the film, it is revealed that Kutcher’s character lives at the Venice Canals and visits the Original LA Flower Market to purchase supplies for his flower shop. Boasting a stock of over 125 varieties of flowers, the flower market is open to the public at a minimal admission fee.

And while the romantic Venice Canals are predominantly a residential area, visitors can stop by as they walk around the Venice Beach Boardwalk or Abbott Kinney artistic boulevard. Later in the movie, Hector Elizondo’s and Topher Grace’s characters go to a movie screening at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery where several stars are buried. These screenings are hosted by Cinespia and generally occur during the warmer months.

Jon’s Market

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While it was named “Good Shopper” in Super Bad, the grocery store where Seth Rogen unsuccessfully attempts to steal alcohol is actually Jon’s Market. Located in Glendale, Jon’s specializes in the Armenian and Persian ingredients needed to make the region’s popular ethnic dishes.

Ferndell Nature Center and Skylight Books in Ruby Sparks

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Even though it is located in the heart of LA, Ferndell Nature Center feels worlds away. Ferndell is located on the far side of the Los Feliz Blvd. stretch and features a trickling river, lots of shady trees and benches. It’s the perfect way to escape from high-intensity city life in LA. In Ruby Sparks, Paul Dano’s character is shown biking down the narrow path of the park. Toward the end of the film, Dano is shown reading his newly published novel to an audience at Skylight Books, located less than two miles from Ferndell on the popular Vermont strip (a few steps away from Figaro Café where Made of Honor was filmed). The bookstore hosts book readings on an almost daily basis in addition to the monthly meetings of their various book clubs.

Gamble House in Back to the Future

The historic Gamble House in Pasadena served as Doc’s mansion in Back to the Future. Designed during the Arts and Crafts Movement in North America, the Gamble House features Japanese accents in a traditional Craftsman style exterior. Although it’s open daily for tours and special events, guests can also visit on their own during a Tuesday lunch hour to enjoy their meal outdoors and soak in a bit of LA history.