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5 Iconic Filming Locations in Los Angeles

Over the last month, we have talked about our favorite houses in Los Angeles that have been featured in TV shows and movies. In our glee of re-watching some of these great big and small screen gems, we realized that we also have to share some more of our favorite iconic filming locations around Los Angeles.

L.A. is the backdrop of some very famous films. Portrayed as different cities, and even different COUNTRIES since the 1920’s, L.A. is a versatile movie star in it’s own right. Who can forget the airstrip at the end of “Casablanca” where Ingrid Bergman stole away in the middle of the night? While it was supposed to be AFRICA, it was really our very own Van Nuys Airport. Another classic Bogart film, “The African Queen”, was filmed at the LA Arboretum and Gene Kelly, Donald O’Conner and Debbie Reynolds were “Singin’ In The Rain” at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Danny and Sandy found the one they wanted in “Grease” at Venice High School and “Seabiscuit” ran (in real life and in the movie) at The Santa Anita Race Track. Here are 5 of our favorite filming locations:


Griffith Observatory

It’s where James Dean gave one of his iconic performances in “Rebel Without a Cause” and Charlie’s Angels kicked into action in “Full Throttle”. It’s where meteors crash to earth in “Transformers” and is the welcome center of “Jurassic Park”. When it is not starring in movies, The Griffith Observatory is the most visited public observatory in the world, hosting around 1 million people a year. It is one of the first institutions in the United States that was dedicated to public science and is still a national leader in public astronomy. Entrance to the Observatory is free as was stipulated in the will of Griffith J. Griffiths who left the land to the city. While at the Observatory, you can view shows at the Samuel Oshchin Planetarium for a nominal fee or participate in monthly public star parties, daily talks and presentations, and periodic special events. Last, but certainly not least, you can view the spectacular, sweeping views of Los Angeles from atop this amazing part of Los Angeles.


The Beverly Wilshire Hotel

Richard Gere and Julia Roberts fell while staying in the Penthouse in “Pretty Woman” and the boys from “Entourage” filmed there. The Beverly Wilshire Hotel was built in the 1920’s and was originally called The Beverly Wilshire Apartment Hotel. While the “Apartment” was eventually dropped, it served as a residence for Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty and John Lennon at various times. The structure itself, created in an Italian Renaissance Architecture style, is gorgeous and while updated to meet the times, you still feel like you are a part of history when you walk through its doors. Who knows, you may see one of your favorite stars when you are there!



Millenium Biltmore

The movie resume of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel is quite impressive. From “Chinatown” to “A Star is Born” to “Ghostbusters” and “Independence Day”, “Wedding Crashers”, “Spiderman”, “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Oceans 11”, the Millennium Biltmore Hotel has been the backdrop of scenes from many movies and TV shows over the last 70 years. Opened in 1923 and located in Downtown L.A., the Millennium Biltmore Hotel was at the time of its opening the largest hotel west of Chicago in the United States. The exterior is a Spanish-Italian revival style and inside is decorated with frescos and murals, marble fountains, travertine and crystal chandeliers. It was originally home to the Academy Awards Oscars ceremony and where John F. Kennedy gave his acceptance speech upon receiving the Democratic Presidential nomination. And during the Beatles world tour, there were so many fans crowding the sidewalk, the band had to access their room from the helipad on top of the hotel. This hotel could probably tell some great stories about its place in history.


Union Station

Used in several scenes for the hit movie “The Italian Job” as well as “Pearl Harbor” and “Charlies Angels: Full Throttle”, Union Station is the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States. Union Station was designed by The Parkinsons and built in 1926. It is a combination of Dutch Colonial, Mission Revival and Streamline Moderne architecture. While it is considered small in comparison to other Union Stations, its grand designs make it seem large, open and airy.  While it is still a major hub for travel, it has also become a popular wedding and reception site in recent years.

Quality Cafe

Located on West 7th Street in Downtown L.A., The Quality Cafe was a restaurant until 2006 and now only exists in the movies. Its “patrons” have been some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. You can see this famous cafe in the background of many movies and TV shows that you know and love. It is where Don Draper met with his half brother in “Mad Men” and Ike Turner took Anna Mae Bullock to dinner in “What’s Love Got To Do With It”. It was featured in “Old School”, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” ,“Se7en”, “Training Day” and “Gone in 60 Seconds.” Like many spots in Los Angeles, its versatile look means it can be located in any cafe that you might find in the United States. You should look for it the next time you are watching one of your favorite movies!

Come discover these great locations and more with us on one of our many tours!