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Set-Jetting: Los Angeles—13 Film Locations You Can Visit

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[Guest Post: Author Adam H. Douglas]

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Film Locations in Los Angeles are everywhere. As the de facto heart of the entertainment industry, the City of Angels is home to the studios that have acted as a backdrop to many of our treasured cinematic moments.

But it’s not just the Hollywood studios that make L.A. a film lover’s paradise. Iconic film locations that have graced the silver screen over the years are around every corner. 

La La Land is just one of the famous film locations in Los Angeles you can experience for yourself.

From the famous staircase in La La Land to the Griffith Observatory in Rebel Without a Cause, these film locations in Los Angeles have become tourist hotspots attracting movie aficionados from around the world. 

In this article, we will take a closer look at 13 must-visit film locations in Los Angeles that have left an indelible mark on the cinematic landscape. So grab your camera and get ready to explore some of the most recognizeable movie locations in the world’s entertainment capital.

TV & Film Locations In Los Angeles

Hollywood, California, is a bustling creative district in the heart of Los Angeles. It’s home to some of the most recognizable landmarks in the entertainment industry. The Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Sign, and the TCL Chinese Theatre are know by movie fans around the world.. 

Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Walk of Fame is a popular attraction that honors some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. The walkway features actors, musicians, and directors among its more than 2,600 stars embedded in the sidewalk. 

Hollywood Sign 

The Hollywood sign is truly world-famous. Originally built in 1923 to advertise a real estate development, the sign has since become a symbol of the entertainment industry and Hollywood itself. 

TCL Chinese Theatre

Originally called Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the famed Hollywood theatre was renamed in 1973 to Mann’s. In 2001, it reverted to its original name, Grauman’s. But on January 11, 2013, Chinese electronics manufacturer TCL Corporation purchased the naming rights. Today it’s the TCL Chinese Theatre. (We wonder if it’s name will change again?)

The movie palace opened in 1927 and has hosted some of the biggest movie premieres in Hollywood history. A few famous premiers include George Lucas’ Star Wars and Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings.

Hollywood is also home to various other attractions, including the Dolby Theatre, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Sunset Strip. With its rich history and endless entertainment options, Hollywood is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in movies, music, or pop culture.

How It Began: Film Locations In Los Angeles

In the early days of cinema, films were shot primarily on sound stages and backlots. Only a few films used outdoor locations. As the industry grew and filmmakers sought to capture more realistic settings. The streets and scenes of Los Angeles soon became a popular locations for shooting movies.

One of the earliest Los Angeles film locations was the historic Mission San Juan Capistrano. It was used in the 1910 film “Ramona.” 

The city’s sunny weather and diverse landscapes made it an ideal place to shoot a wide range of films. Los Angeles has been the backdrop for everything from westerns and musicals to noir and science fiction.

The top 13 Must-Visit Film Locations in Los Angeles

After a lot of sightseeing, we’ve narrowed our favorites down to these top 13 must-visit film locations in Los Angeles.

Universal Studios Hollywood

Jurassic Park and Back To The Future are just two of the movies that use film locations in Los Angeles

Universal Studios Hollywood is among the most famous film locations in Los Angeles. The studio has been making movies and television shows since 1915. 

Visitors can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the studio. On the tour visitors see some of the most famous sets in Hollywood history. A few of the popular movies that have been filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood include

  • Back to the Future (1985)
  • Jurassic Park (1993)
  • Psycho (1960)
  • War of the Worlds (1953)
  • Flower Drum Song (1961)

But Universal Studios is more than just a movie studio.

They also operate a popular theme park that offers where you can experience the magic of Hollywood firsthand. The park features a variety of attractions based on popular movies and T.V. shows, including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Simpsons Ride, and Transformers: The Ride 3D. 

The Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory offers breathtaking views of Los Angeles. It also hosts a variety of exhibits and shows about astronomy and space exploration. The Observatory is one of the city’s most beloved landmarks and has been featured in countless movies and T.V. shows. 

One of the most famous films shot at the observatory is Rebel Without a Cause (1955), featuring James Dean. The film includes two major sequences filmed at the location. There’s even a bust of James Dean outside the observatory in honor of his role in the film. The observatory has also been the signature location for other films, including

  • La La Land (2016)
  • Transformers (2007)
  • Charlie’s Angels (2000)
  • The Terminator (1984)

Like science? Check out a tour of the observatory and learn about the history of astronomy and space exploration.

The Bradbury Building

The Bradbury Building is among the most famous film locations in Los Angeles. 

Observant movie fans will recognize the famed architecture from films like

  • (500) Days of Summer (2009)
  • Blade Runner (1982)
  • The Artist (2011)
  • Pay It Forward (2000) 

Fans of vintage Hollywood the building portrayed the Pacific All Risk Insurance Company in the Billy Wilder thriller Double Indemnity (1944)

The Beverly Hills Hotel

Spend the night at the Beverly HIlls hotel, another of the film locations in Los Angeles you can visit in person.

The luxurious Beverly Hills Hotel has had a successful side hustle as a background player in Hollywood for decades. The hotel has been featured in a slew of movies, and T.V. shows, including

  • Pretty Woman (1990)
  • The Way We Were (1973)
  • Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
  • American Gigolo (1980)
  • Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) 

The Hollywood Sign

The famous Hollywood sign is a beacon for fans and movies aficionados everywhere.

The Hollywood sign is arguably THE most recognizable landmark in Los Angeles. The original sign—Hollywoodland—was originally installed in 1923 as a promotional angle for new housing developments in the Hollywood hills. Long after “land” went the way of the dinosaur, the remaining “Hollywood” letters found themselves in countless movies over the last hundred years. You can see the famed sign in such movies as

  • Gangster Squad (2013)
  • Argo (2012)
  • Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)
  • Friends with Benefits (2011).

Pro tip: An late afternoon hike to the top of the hill can enjoy one of the most amazing views of the City of Angels.

Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard is popular as a film locations in Los Angeles

Does any place scream “Hollywood” more than Sunset Strip? 

The street was Norma Desmond’s driveway gate in (you guessed it) Sunset Boulevard (1950). More recently, the Strip can be seen in

  • The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)
  • La La Land (2016)
  • Gunsmoke (1955–1975)
  • Almost Famous (2000)
  • The Usual Suspects (1995)
  • Entourage (2004–2011) 

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art boasts an extensive collection of art and artifacts from around the world, and it is a popular location for film shoots. You can see the Museum in

  • Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
  • The Player (1992)
  • I Am Sam (2001)
  • Knight of Cups (2015)
  • MythBusters (2003–2018)
  • L.A. Story (1991)

The Walt Disney Concert Hall

The Walt Disney Concert Hall has been featured in many movies, and T.V. shows, including

  • Iron Man (2008)
  • Get Smart (2008)

Visitors can attend a concert or tour the building and see the stunning architecture that has made it a popular location for filmmakers.

Rodeo Drive

Many movies have chosen Rodeo Drive for their film locations in Los Angeles

Visiting Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is a must for film and fashion enthusiasts. 

This world-famous shopping district boasts high-end luxury stores, designer boutiques, and upscale restaurants.

Visitors can enjoy a stroll along the palm tree-lined streets, the glamorous window displays, and maybe even spot a celebrity or two. Rodeo Drive turns up in

  • Clueless (1995)
  • Pretty Woman (1990)
  • Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
  • American Gigolo (1980)
  • Body Double (1984)
  • Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
  • Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

The TCL Chinese Theatre

The TCL Chinese Theatre is a popular tourist destination. It's also a popular choice for film locations in Los Angeles

The TCL Chinese Theatre is one of the most instantly recognizable film locations in Los Angeles. The Theatre has hosted countless movie premieres and events but is perhaps best known for its famous handprints and footprints of Hollywood celebrities in the forecourt. 

Celebs who left their mark outside the theatre include Marilyn Monroe, Robert DeNiro, Charleton Heston, and John Wayne. Its Chinese-inspired lavish interior decorations are a must-see for movie lovers and tourists alike. You’ll see the theatre in

  • Forrest Gump (1994)
  • The Aviator (2004)
  • Blazing Saddles (1974)
  • Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
  • Iron Man Three (2013)
  • Zombieland (2009)
  • Twins (1988)
  • Speed (1994)

Los Angeles City Hall

Los Angeles City Hall is not just a symbol of the city’s government. The downtown Los Angeles building, completed in 1928, has a distinctive Art Deco style making it a popular location for film and television productions. Los Angeles City Hall makes an appearance in

  • The West Wing (1999–2006)
  • The Usual Suspects (1995)
  • Gattaca (1997)
  • The Nice Guys (2016)
  • L.A. Confidential (1997)
  • Chinatown (1974). 

Venice Beach Boardwalk

Film locations in Los Angeles often pick Venice Beach Boardwalk because of its vibrant lifestyle

Located in the bohemian neighborhood of Venice, the boardwalk stretches for 2.5 miles and is home to a wide variety of street performers, vendors, and artists. It has a vibrant and colorful atmosphere and beautiful beach and ocean views. The boardwalk is also a popular destination for skateboarders, with the world-famous Venice Skatepark nearby. No surprise, then, that the boardwalk can be found in films such as

  • Barbie (2023)
  • Thirteen (2003)
  • Baywatch (1989–2001)
  • American History X (1998)
  • Nightcrawler (2014)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

Santa Monica Pier 

Just west of Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Pier features a wide range of activities and entertainment options, including an amusement park with a Ferris wheel, an aquarium, restaurants, food vendors, and live music performances. Visitors can also enjoy stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding coastline.

The pier is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike and is a must-visit spot for anyone exploring the Los Angeles area. The Pier makes an appearance in a number of films, including,

  • 1941 (1979)
  • A Night at the Roxbury (1998)
  • Bean (1997)
  • 2012 (2009)
  • Beverly Hills Cop 3 (1994)
  • Black Eye (1974)
  • By The Sad Sea Waves (1917).

More Film Locations In Los Angeles

A few favorites that didn’t quite make our list, but we still think are great spots to visit include

Union Station:

  • Blade Runner (1982)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Other film locations in Los Angeles include Union Station, (Blade Runner)

Watts Towers:

  • Rush Hour 2 (2001)
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) 

Paramount Pictures Studios:

  • The Godfather (1972)
  • Transformers (2007)

Randy’s Donuts:

  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • Get Shorty (1995) 

Echo Park Lake:

  • Chinatown (1974)
  • The Big Lebowski (1998)

Always More Film Locations In Los Angeles To Visit

Los Angeles is a city steeped in film history, and there is no shortage of memorable film locations to visit. From the studios of Universal to the luxury of the Beverly Hills Hotel, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city. 

For movie lovers, Los Angeles is more than just a city – it’s a pilgrimage site. The city’s rich history and ongoing contributions to the film industry make it a must-visit destination for anyone who loves cinema.

Set Jetting: Los Angeles—Frequently Asked Questions

Where are most movie sets in LA?

Most movie sets in LA are located at Motion Pictures Studios, but numerous scenes are also filmed at prime locations throughout the city, such as Griffith Observatory, Union Station, and Randy’s Donuts.

Can you visit movie sets in LA?

Yes, you can visit movie sets in LA. The Los Angeles Conservancy offers self-guided walking tours of famous filming locations, and many popular spots like the Old LA Zoo and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel are open to the public.

Which part of Los Angeles is famous for its film industry?

The part of Los Angeles famous for its film industry is Hollywood, home to major studios and iconic landmarks like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the TCL Chinese Theatre.

What is the most popular movie setting?

The most popular movie setting varies depending on the genre and the film’s specific requirements, but some iconic settings include Union Station, the Griffith Observatory, and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, each featured in numerous movies.

[Photo credits: Esteban Beltrán, J. Aclyn, Ken Lund, Russell Mondy, Adam Fagen, Jeremy Thompson Floyd B. Bariscale, Bill Badzo, SILKE : Like_the_Grand_Canyon  Pecryl Peter Thomas, CNugent , W.Flare , Justin Mier, The City Project, Sarah Lou, Wally Gobetz, Betsy Hall ]

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