Cinema City: 7 Must-See Filming Locations In Hollywood

When the world’s most frequently used movie locations were revealed, it came as no surprise that Los Angeles took the second spot, beaten only by New York City for its iconic Central Park. In fact, Venice Beach, UCLA, Hollywood Boulevard, and the Griffith Observatory all appeared on the list as popular individual filming locations.

Hollywood’s hot for a reason. The year-round California sun and swaying palm trees provide the perfect backdrop for many a movie. And, sure, you could and should absolutely hop on a studio tour bus. The Warner Bros. and FOX backlots are brimming with magical, fabricated sets and perhaps even a celebrity or two. 

However, we suggest going at it alone. Explore the iconic city of Los Angeles with our guide in hand and visit each and every one of the must-see filming locations in Hollywood (and other popular neighbourhoods). You’ll find that the spots are much more impressive when they’re not located on a sound stage. And, you’ll have time to snap as many photos as you want.

Must-See Filming Locations In Hollywood

1. The Griffith Observatory – Rebel Without a Cause

Known nearly worldwide as perhaps one of the most famous filming locations in Hollywood, the classic film Rebel Without a Cause first made the Griffith Observatory famous. You’ll recognise the viewpoint as the spot where James Dean gets into a knife fight. However, the museum has also been featured in La La Land, Gangster Squad, and even Transformers.

Image: Rebel Without a Cause/MGM Studios

2. Aero Theater – Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko was pretty creepy, but if you’re anywhere between the ages of 25 and 40, it likely defined some part of your youth. And, if you’re visiting Los Angeles and looking to visit one of the hottest must-see filming locations in Hollywood, you’ll have the chance to. The Aero Theater played a pivotal role in Donnie Darko. Today, the American Cinematheque owns it, and you can visit for a special showing of some iconic films.

Image: Donnie Darko/Flower Films

3. El Matador Beach – The Notebook

If you’re a bird, I’m a bird. If you know that quote then you’re going to love this next filming location. The Notebook was probably the most popular chick flick of the early 2000s. So, if you’re headed to Hollywood with bae in tow, pack a cute swimsuit and a newsies cap. Then, head to El Matador Beach to re-enact the famous beach scene. You can leave out the cheesy “If you’re a bird” quote, though.

Image: The Notebook/New Line Cinema

4. Bradbury Building – Blade Runner

The Bradbury Building is an iconic Los Angeles landmark in its own right, aside from the fact that it’s been used as a filming location for hit films such as Blade Runner, 500 Days of Summer, and Chinatown. The large atrium provides the perfect space for any kind of moody scene. In Blade Runner, for example, they turned it into a smoke-filled futuristic apartment complex. And, they also used it for the infamous climactic rooftop scene.

Image: Film Tourism US

5. UCLA – Legally Blonde

UCLA is no stranger to cameras, actors, and set designers. Aside from being home to one of the best film school’s in the world, the iconic university has also acted as one of Hollywood’s favourite filming locations. It’s so versatile that it’s been turned into Oxford and even Harvard. You might recognise it most prominently, however, from various scenes in Legally Blonde. Other films include Angels & Demons (Royce Hall) and Old School (Janss Steps).

Image: Legally Blonde/MGM Studios

6. Point Dume – The Big Lebowski

Few films personify such classic LA style than The Big Lebowski. Visit any Ralph’s to transport yourself to the supermarket scene. Check out any one of the Valley’s older bowling alleys for serious Dude vibes. Or, you can skip it all and visit one of the most iconic filming locations of all at Point Dume. Remember when the Dude is summoned to meet with Treehorn at a beach party? That was actually shot in shot in Point Dume. Make the trip out to Malibu and you won’t be let down.

Image: The Big Lebowski/PolyGram

7. The Smokehouse – Argo

If you’re headed to Burbank for a Warner Bros. studio tour then you might as well plan on having lunch next door at The Smokehouse. This 1946 restaurant has been featured in numerous movies, namely Argo, La La Land, and even once used to film a scene for the hit TV show The Office. Settle into one of the plush red booths and snap a photo of you and a friend just like this one of Ben Affleck and John Goodman. It’ll be gold.

Image: Film Tourism US
Elizabeth Thorn

Elizabeth has lived and worked in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, all of which have contributed to her passion for travel writing. When she's not writing, you can find her exploring little hideouts in Colombia or watching photography tutorials on YouTube.

Contact: [email protected]

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