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Holiday Movies Filmed in L.A.

Now that Halloween has passed, the holidays will be upon us faster than we know it! Which means it is time to turn on some favorite Christmas movies from the past and present that we all know and love. While LA isn’t really known for Christmas weather – no snow around here!- it is still a very popular place to film some of our favorite yuletide classics. Here are just a few:

It’s A Wonderful Life

Set in fictional Bedford Falls, NY, this 1947 drama starring James Stewart is a classic film that finds its way to many peoples DVD (or now DVR) players every year. However, the winter wonderland is made up largely of movie magic. The set was created at RKO Encino Ranch which is in the San Fernando Valley. The Ranch was originally purchased to create the set for the Academy Award winning movie, Cimarron. It was then continued to be used for several movies, including a street in It’s A Wonderful Life. While most of the sets were demolished from the movie, 2 still remain – the swimming pool from the dance, which is located at Beverly Hills High School and the brand new Martini home which is located in La Pottersville….we mean La Canada.

Die Hard

Is Die Hard really a Christmas movie? Since it is set at Christmastime… it is definitely one for this list. This race-against-time action movie stars Bruce Willis as John McClane, a New York cop who comes to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve (see…we told you it was a Christmas movie!) to reconcile with his wife. They are to attend a party at her office building, the fictional Nakatomi Plaza, which in reality is Fox Plaza in Century City. Plans change, however, at the hands of criminal mastermind Hans Gruber (played by the incomparable Alan Rickman) who is there to steal $640 million in bearer bonds. Nakatomi Plaza…errr… Fox Plaza still stands today at 2121 Avenue of the Stars. In fact, it is an office building and former President Reagan had his offices there after his Presidential term was over. You can also see Fox Plaza in Fight Club, Lethal Weapon 2 and Grand Theft Auto V.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

You might feel cheated that we used Die Hard, so now we will follow the “rules” and talk about another favorite holiday movie – which more like an explosion of Christmas every where. Of course we are talking about the iconic comedy, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Set in Chicago (but filmed almost totally in Los Angeles) the film follows Clark W. Griswold (played by funny man Chevy Chase) as he and his family (wife, played by Beverly D’Angelo) and kids (played by Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki) prepare for a big Family Christmas. Of course, disaster and hilarity ensue in the form of out-of-control Christmas lights, a burnt turkey, senile relatives, an exploding sewer and an unfortunate kidnapping among other things. While it was mostly filmed at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, the unforgettable scene where Clark goes to buy a gift for his wife but ends up getting a lingerie show from the salesgirl was filmed at Bullocks Wilshire in Koreatown. While the store is no longer there, the building still stands and is now a law school. How can Clark buy gifts for Ellen, Audrey and Rusty at a a law school? Yah, we don’t know either.

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

The fantasy of Who-ville came to life in this remake of the cartoon classic movie in the year 2000. Jim Carrey played the mean spirited Grinch who’s heart was two sizes too small and who learns that a little bit of love goes a long way. Who-ville was created on the lot at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. While we don’t give tours of this lot, we still had to give it a shout out because it is one that we recommend you visiting. Every December, they have a Grinchmas Celebration on select days. It is a fun time for the family young and old. And while you are there, you can see sets of our favorite TV shows and movies. Or head over to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter where they have brought JK Rowlings series to life in a brilliant way.

Get into the  Hollywood holiday spirit on a  Los Angeles tour with LA Insider Tours! Choose from our All LA in a Day or Build Your Own Tour of any length and choose exactly what you want to see. We have had a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor since 2011 and all of our tours are completely private, custom tours with just you and your family — like your friend in LA taking you around town.

Call us at 800-549-6625 or email us today to book!