A Movie Lover's Guide to Visiting Los Angeles

Movie buffs rejoice! Even if you have never been to Los Angeles it is easy to get around town to see great movie locations and get in some studio tours. Don't be intimidated by the expansive city that covers nearly 500 square miles and it’s legendary traffic. With just a few tips you'll be on your way to iconic movie locations of dozens of great films. Easily customize your agenda whether you have one day or a week to explore.

We highly recommend taking CitySightseeing StarLine’s Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour -- whether you choose a 24, 48 or 72 hour pass depends on how long your stay is. If you’re in town long enough, consider the 72-hour pass as it will get you everywhere you want to go and negates the need for a rental car -- which negates having to drive in LA traffic and find parking! Follow our custom guide to seeing all the top movie spots using this affordable service.

The Hop-on Hop-off bus operates seven days a week from 9:00 AM until 6:00 or 7:00 PM depending on the season. Four distinct lines and two connector routes take you all over the city and you can hop on and off the bus whenever you like to visit the sites of most interest to you. No reservations are needed. Just bring your ticket to StarLine kiosk at Chinese Theatre 6925 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028. From here you’ll have your choice of which direction to head first. If you’ve only got one day to sightsee, we recommend starting with the Blue Line as you’ll be able to fit in a trip to Universal Studios too!

Start your adventure by choosing a route to follow and follow this custom guide to make the most of your stay…

Blue Route | Universal Studios & Hollywood

Stop #25 is Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Whether you decide to do this first or later in your sightseeing adventure, we highly recommend taking the Warner Brothers Studio Tour for the real, behind-the-scenes scoop on where and how some of your favorite films were made. Tour guides take you to the sets and sound stages as well as the 100-acre backlot where classic movies and TV shows were brought to life. Casablanca, Batman, Harry Potter and Friends are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the popular entertainment that has been created in this place. This must-do tour for movie buffs can take 2-3 hours, so plan accordingly.

Right near Warner Bros. on Lakeside Dr. you will find the Smoke House Restaurant, home to famous garlic bread and the location of many famous movie scenes. If your hungry after your tour of Universal, this is a great stop. It is the interior location of Lipton’s Restaurant in LaLa Land, where Mia first sees Sebastian and is drawn inside by piano music. The restaurant’s list entitled “filmed at our establishment” also includes:

  • ○ Kicking and Screaming - 2005
  • ○ The Best Thing I Ever Ate – 2009
  • ○ Argo - 2012
  • ○ Lethal Weapon - 2016
  • ○ Many more! – including television series favorite The Office and American Woman

NOTE: If you’ve only got one day to sightsee, and Warner Brothers Studio Tour is high on your list of must-dos, another great sightseeing option is the combo package Movie Stars Home Tours and Warner Brothers Studio.

The Blue Line will bring you back to the Chinese Theatre, where you can decide to hop on either the Purple Line to Downtown LA, or the Red Line toward Hollywood and Beverly Hills and the Yellow, Green and Orange Routes. If you have a little extra time and want to learn more about this famous area of town, consider taking the Hollywood Behind the Scenes Tour for more guided insights.

Purple Route | Downtown L.A.

This part of Los Angeles is loaded with movie locations. You’ll want to plan at least a half-day to see everything.

Stop #37 Union Station

The largest railroad passenger terminal in the western United States, with its Art Deco and Misson Revival Architecture and bustling, modern cultural hub, has long been a premier destination for filming. Hop off to view hundreds of pieces of unique artwork adorning the walls, cafes and restaurants reminiscent of the golden age of train travel, gift kiosks and weekly markets entice travelers and locals alike to enjoy this iconic destination. Union Station makes appearances in these films and many more:

  • ○ Gable and Lombard - 1976
  • ○ Blade Runner - 1982
  • ○ Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid - 1982
  • ○ Pearl Harbor - 2001
  • ○ Catch Me If You Can - 2002
  • ○ Seabiscuit - 2003
  • ○ Dark Knight Rises - 2012
  • ○ Hail, Caesar! - 2016

Stop #35 for Chinatown

This festive destination for dining and shopping has a self-guided walking tour marked by bollards (posts) bearing a map and detailing attractions. Hop off for lunch and visit the incensed-filled Taoist Temple, see the wishing well and the five-tiered pagoda. Chinatown in Los Angeles was the setting for scenes in these films:

  • ○ Chinatown - 1974
  • ○ Pretty in Pink - 1986
  • ○ Lethal Weapon 4 - 1998
  • ○ Rush Hour - 1998

Stop #39 Bradbury Building

The Bradbury Building is a five-story architectural landmark. While the outside is impressive enough in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, it is the inside that achieves a truly distinctive, awe-inspiring style. You’re thrown back in time about 150 years by the free-standing mail chutes, “bird cage” elevators, and geometric-patterned staircases all wrapped up in wrought iron created in France. A central court capped with a skylight features glazed and unglazed pink and yellow bricks, Italian marble, Mexican tile, and terra cotta. This is an occupied building so you can’t go up past the 1st level but it is free to enter and is a most remarkable sight. It’s a location you might recognize from the following films:

  • ○ Bladerunner - 1982
  • ○ Lethal Weapon 4 - 1998
  • ○ Pay It Forward - 2000
  • ○ 500 Days of Summer - 2009
  • ○ The Artist - 2011

This is close to the Grand Central Market, where you can experience international diversity in the form of food and bustling crowds. A true Los Angeles experience, plan to at least walk through and find some snacks or drinks. The nearby Million Dollar Theater is one of the first movie palaces built in the U.S. The architecture is primarily in the elaborate Churrigueresque style with surprising statues built in. Renovated and freshly re-opened in February 2018, the venue is now an event center and filming location for commercials, features, and TV and Music videos.

Stop #40 Biltmore Hotel

This glamorous hotel, with its carved marble fountains and columns, crystal chandeliers and tapestries has long been a favorite of both celebrities and dignitaries. Poke your head in for a look or enjoy a drink at the bar. If you enter on Olive Street you’ll recognize it from numerous films, including:

  • ○ Vertigo - 1958
  • ○ Rocky III - 1982
  • ○ Splash – 1984
  • ○ Bachelor Party 1984
  • ○ Bugsy - 1991
  • ○ Cruel Intentions - 1999
  • ○ Wedding Crashers – 2005
  • ○ Ghostbusters - 2016

Head straight to the top of the Westin Bonaventure to the Bona Vista Lounge for some of the best views of Los Angeles, Hollywood and Santa Monica. The menu is fantastic with drinks, cocktails and wines that are top notch. This revolving lounge is captivating. Gradually see all the sights while never having to leave your seat. The circular glass elevators as you enter the hotel get a lot of screen time. The Journalist Colin Marshall remarks that the building “must appeal strongly to disaster filmmakers looking for structures to destroy with digital effects, given that it looks computer generated even in real life.”

  • ○ The Line of Fire – 1993
  • ○ True Lies - 1994
  • ○ Nick of Time – 1995
  • ○ Heat – 1995
  • ○ Forget Paris – 1995
  • ○ Escape From L.A. – 1996

Located just .2 miles away is the OUE Skyspace L.A. with California’s highest open-air observation deck and a fully enclosed glass skyslide. We highly recommend you stop in for a visit and take in the views. You’ll be right where filming was done for the following:

  • ○ Terminator Two: Judgment Day - 1991
  • ○ Independence Day - 1996
  • ○ Disney’s The Kid - 2000
  • ○ The Day After Tomorrow - 2004
  • ○ Dragon Wars - 2007

This building can also be seen in the History Channel’s Life After People, the music videos “Thug Lovin” and “Drift & Die,” and some Grand Theft Auto games.

Located just a few blocks down, you’ll find The Bunker Hill Steps, connecting 5th Street to Hope Street. This is where you’ll find Angels Flight, that short but most famous railway that takes passengers up and down the steep hill between Hill and Olive Streets.

There is no shortage of movies filmed in and around Bunker Hill. The park benches at the top of 3rd street appeared in M, Angel’s Flight, This Rebel Breed, and Little Shop of Horrors. On the corner of First Street and Olive you’ll see the disreputable flophouse featured in The Brasher Doubloon and The Turning Point. In real life, this location is simply the The Gladden Apartments.

It only costs about $1.00 to take the Angel’s Flight railway today. Hop aboard and see if you can visualize scenes from the following movies?

  • ○ Their Ups and Downs - 1914
  • ○ Up She Goes - 1918
  • ○ All Jazzed Up - 1920
  • ○ The Impatient Maiden - 1932
  • ○ The Unfaithful - 1947
  • ○ Criss Cross - 1948
  • ○ Act of Violence - 1949
  • ○ Once a Thief - 1950
  • ○ Cry of the Hunted - 1953
  • ○ Angel’s Flight - 1962
  • ○ The Money Trap - 1966
  • ○ Tell Me No Secrets - 1997
  • ○ LaLa Land – 2016

Red Route | Hollywood and Beverly Hills (connects to the Yellow route)

Stop #5 Whiskey A Go Go

A rock music institution for more than 50 years, it’s also a film location. Outside the club, The Graduate’s Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) and Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross) kissed after their first date. And the venue played itself in the 1991 film The Doors. It was here that the group was famously fired in the end.

  • ○ The Graduate – 1967
  • ○ The Doors - 1991

Stop #10 - La Brea Tar Pits

The urban Hancock Park in L.A. was formed around these tar pits where natural asphalt has seeped up from the ground for tens of thousands of years preserving fossils. When you see it, it’s easy to understand why it’s a perfect backdrop for films. Wander around the very grounds where camera crews from these films were kept busy:

  • ○ Volcano - 1997
  • ○ My Girl 2 - 1994
  • ○ Miracle Mile - 2003
  • ○ Last Action Hero - 1993
  • ○ Seven Psychopaths - 2012
  • ○ Land of the Lost – 2009

Also fun, the La Brea Tar Pits Museum - especially if you’re travelling with kids.

Stop #11 – The Grove

The Grove is a large central park with an animated music fountain that plays every hour. Between those shows the fountain also entertains with a non-musical program. To describe The Grove doesn’t really do it justice. The 550,000 square-foot open-air shopping and dining mall has a European vibe and lots of colorful architectural elements. You can even take a shiny green and brass trolley along the main street of The Grove to get to the Farmer’s Market.

The Meddler, out in 2015, shows Marnie at both the Apple store and Crate & Barrel, as well as at the Farmer’s Market at the end of The Grove. Keep your eyes wide open as you roam around this area as both places are frequented by celebrities quite often. Even celebrities need to go shopping and take their kids out for fun -- and The Grove is lots of fun, with lots of interesting things to see and do.

  • ○ The Meddler - 2015

The Pacific Theatres at The Grove is designed in the style of movie palaces of the past with a grand sweeping staircase and luxury seating. If you’re thinking of actually going to the movies while in L.A. -- this would be the place to do it. It may cost a few more dollars than your local cineplex, but it’s worth it, especially if you should glimpse a favorite star behind the sunglasses that they will surely be wearing.

Stop #14 Paramount Studios

Paramount’s stages have hosted many of history’s most beloved blockbusters, and talent from around the world continues to come here to create. Some of the more recent titles include:

  • ○ Downsizing – 2017
  • ○ Book Club - 2018
  • ○ Sherlock Gnomes - 2018
  • ○ A Quiet Place - 2018
  • ○ Annihilation – 2018

Consider taking the 2-hour cart tour through this classic Hollywood studio, featuring historic and active backlot sets and prop warehouse. You’ll see iconic locations like Bronson Gate and the New York Street Backlot. Tickets are $58 per person.

Stop #16 Hollywood and Vine

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is centered at this location that was once a lemon grove. In urban folklore, many of the local buildings are part of “Haunted Hollywood,” home to the ghosts of Hollywood stars past. Begin walking here to see the terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks as monuments to giants in the entertainment industry.

Interesting trivia - there are two Michael Jackson and two Harrison Ford stars on the Walk of Fame. When Michael Jackson (the singer) died in 2009, huge crowds showed up to pay tribute at the wrong star - that of a former KABC radio personality. If you’re interested in seeing the actual star of Michael Jackson (the singer), you’ll find it near the front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. How could there be another Harrison Ford you ask? Believe it or not, long before Indiana Jones, there was a silent film actor by the same name. More fun facts -- 2010 was the 50th Anniversary of the Walk of Fame, and as part of the celebration a time capsule was buried at the corner of Hollywood and Highland -- it will be opened in 2060 if you want to make plans now to be there!

Yellow Route | Beverly Hills & Santa Monica (connects to the Red & Green routes)

Stop #51 Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills

Rodeo Drive does not allow large vehicles or tour buses but if you walk from this stop down Santa Monica Blvd, you’ll get there in about 10-15 minutes. Rodeo Drive, a two-mile stretch of upscale shopping, is popular among the rich and fabulous (and those who like to watch them). It’s also a favorite of movie makers:

  • ○ California Suite - 1978
  • ○ Beverly Hills Cop - 1985
  • ○ Down and Out in Beverly Hills -1986 (the real life Whiteman house at 802 N. Bedford Dr. is just south of Sunset Boulevard)
  • ○ Pretty Woman – 1990

Stop # 57 Santa Monica Pier

This large, double-jointed pier with its iconic entrance is where you’ll find the original carousel from the 1920s featuring hand-carved horses and rebuilt inside the Hippodrome. You can visit the Amusement Park here, watch fishermen, admire the gorgeous ocean views, or shop and eat beach-style. Favorite movies filmed here include:

  • ○ Tillie’s Punctured Romance - 1914
  • ○ Quicksand - 1950
  • ○ The Sting - 1973
  • ○ Farewell My Lovely - 1975
  • ○ Forest Gump - 1994 (Stop at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. for lunch!)
  • ○ The Truth About Cats and Dogs - 1996 (inside O’Brien’s Irish Pub and Restaurant)
  • ○The Opposite of Sex - 1998

Westwood – Stop #54

This is the home of UCLA and Westwood Village, with historic motion picture theaters, restaurants and shopping. If you’ve ever seen a movie shot at a college campus, there’s a good chance it was here. With broad green lawns, bubbling fountains, sculpture gardens and a mix of architectural styles, this campus is a wonderful place to roam. Just a few of the many films that used UCLA as a location:

  • ○ Breathless - 1961
  • ○ Gotcha! - 1985
  • ○ The Sure Thing - 1985
  • ○ Final Analysis - 1992
  • ○ Legally Blonde - 2001
  • ○ Happy Together - 2018

The university’s legendary film school alumni include: James Dean, Jayne Mansfield, Carol Burnett, Tim Robbins, Rob Reiner, Robert Englund, Elizabeth McGovern, Lloyd Bridges, Beau Bridges, Heather Locklear, and John Williams, just to name a few.

At the south end of the campus you’ll also find the “inverted fountain” which features a unique miniature waterfall plunging into a five-foot-deep pool, and a gorgeous botanical garden filled with wandering streams..

The north end is where you’ll find the gleaming modern towers, sculpture garden filled with pieces by Rodin, Matisse, Moore and Miro. The Hammer and Fowler Museums are also here and entry is free to the public!

Green Route | Venice Beach & Marina del Rey (connects to the Yellow and Orange Routes)

Stop #76 Venice Beach Boardwalk

With Venice’s unique architecture, amusement piers, canal networks and cast of interesting characters, you’ll definitely want to hop off and explore the area. Decades of filmmakers have taken full advantage of this location:

  • ○ Never Again! – 1910
  • ○ The Italian - 1915
  • ○ It - 1927
  • ○ Hollywood Cavalcade – 1939
  • ○ Big Night – 1951
  • ○ Hold On! Herman’s Hermits – 1966
  • ○ They Shoot Horses Don’t They – 1969
  • ○ Harry and Tonto – 1974
  • ○ Grease – Rydall High School is Venice High School – 1978
  • ○ China Syndrome 1979
  • ○ Nightmare on Elm Street – 1984
  • ○ Point of No Return – 1993
  • ○ Venice Underground – 2005

Stop #71 Marina Del Rey, Fisherman’s Village

The harbor at Marina Del Rey has the charm and character the film industry loves. While you’re strolling around Fisherman’s Village, the harborfront replica of a New England seaport and fishing town, look out across the harbor and envision Sally Field taking flight as the Flying Nun. There was also a submarine parked in this harbor in 1966, where scenes of Frank Sinatra in Assault On A Queen were shot. You may want to take in views of the harbor from your seat at the The Warehouse Restaurant, where Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro dine in Meet The Fockers.

Stop #88 Burton Chace Park

Burton Chace Park is the crown jewel of the Marina with 10 acres of beautiful vista points, offering a chance to rest in the beautiful outdoors, walk the paths, or have a picnic. Admission is free to this park a and you can take a water bus ride around the harbor for just $1.00. Lush lawns and a bicycle trail make this a great family outing location. Parking is limited here so you’ll be glad you came by hop-on hop-off bus!

This is one of the most frequently requested places for filming permits and it is easy to see why. Among the films that have seen action here are:

  • ○ Dragnet – 1987
  • ○ Starsky & Hutch – 2004
  • ○ No Strings Attached – 2011

TV shows that have put in some time here include Knots Landing, Arrested Development, NCIS: L.A., Modern Family, Revenge, Monk, the O.C., The Office, Cougar Time, and many more.

Orange Route | LAX area Hotels & Marina del Rey (connects to the Green route)

Stop #71 Fisherman’s Village/Marina del Rey

East Coast meets West Coast in this famous remake of a New England fishing village. Fisherman’s Village has a lighthouse, a waterfront promenade, brightly painted wooden buildings, and commercial boat docks. This is a major tourist attraction that could keep you busy for hours if you want to rent bikes, attend a concert, go fishing, or dine on the waterfront. Panoramic views are spectacular whether you spend a day or a half hour. Any waterfront destination is prime territory for movie-makers but this locale has been especially popular in the following television series:

  • ○ Arrested Development
  • ○ The O.C.
  • ○ More to Love
  • ○ Blind Date

Movie scenes include:

  • ○ District Nurse – 2016
  • ○ Breezy – 1973

The Orange Connector has lots of stops at area hotels and travels along streets and boulevards where many, many scenes from movies and television have been filmed. NCIS, L.A. is one of those shows that uses these streets over and over again.

The name Los Angeles is synonymous with Hollywood and the movie industry and even the most remote corners of the city have attracted filmmakers of all stripes. Be confident that wherever you choose to go, you’re walking in the footsteps of many of the greatest actors and actresses, producers and screenwriters, cinematographers and designers of all time.