Posted February 25, 2020

Film-Spotting: Your Ticket to California Film Locations


It’s Oscar season. The busiest time of year for limo drivers, haute couture boutiques and swag bag stuffers. It also has us thinking about all the amazing places around the Golden State that have starred in films and TV shows making them perfect additions to your itinerary the next time you and your co-star are in the neighborhood. Some are well-known locations and others are more off the radar, but all are cinematic settings ideal for that “Cali” close-up. The envelope please…

Image: Visit California

A leisurely drive down San Francisco’s scenic Lombard Street. (Image: Visit California)

The Wheel Deal: A San Francisco Classic

If you’re a movie buff, you already know that the film Bullitt starring Steve McQueen features one of the greatest car chases ever filmed. San Francisco co-stars as the backdrop to an epic match-up pitting a classic Ford Mustang driven by McQueen versus a baddie driving a Dodge Charger as they race through neighborhoods like Potrero Hills, Bernal Heights and Russian Hill, where McQueen takes on famously twisty Lombard Street. The vintage 1968 film’s fast cars and Mod Squad fashions ooze retro cool, but it’s your smartphone that makes it easy to trace McQueen’s adrenalin-fueled route. This Google map has all the routes listed with detailed location descriptions so you can relive a piece of film history – and then maybe grab a cappuccino in North Beach.

Where to stay: Sir Francis Drake in Union Square or The Buchanan in Japantown

Getting Sideways In Santa Barbara County

Ten years on, visitors are still making the quirky, colorful journey portrayed in the hit movie Sideways. Who can blame them? Santa Barbara County beckons with hillsides bristling with oaks and vineyards, meandering roads and tempting tasting rooms. Highlights include a visit to Kalyra Winery, where Sandra Oh’s character Stephanie traded quips and poured wine for Miles and Jack. Next, head over to Los Olivos Café & Wine Merchant and select a local varietal (Merlot if you dare) where Miles made his famous anti-Merlot rant. If you’re feeling inspired, add an A-lister touch and rent a convertible so you can cruise Santa Rosa Road in style. Talk about California dreaming.

Santa Barbara Winery

Talking wine in Santa Barbara County. (Image: Visit California)

Where to stay: Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara and The Goodland in Goleta

Tour LA In Entourage Style

Maybe you’ve bucket-listed the idea of experiencing LA like you have your own entourage in tow. Although you won’t be doing it with Vinny and “E,” you can still hit many of the places immortalized in their escapades during the long-running show and recent film. Your stops along the way will include cast faves like West Hollywood’s Urth Caffe and Carney’s on Sunset Blvd. Make sure and get your Entourage to other signature stops like the La Brea Tar Pits, Warner Bros. Studios and Vinny’s trophy home, the fabled Charles Toberman estate.

Where to stay: Hotel Palomar Beverly Hills and The Hotel Wilshire


The Art Deco facade of the historic Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. (Image: Visit California)

Walk The Red Carpet At The Chinese Theater

If you don’t have time to walk Hollywood Boulevard (and even if you do) there is one stop you have to make: the TCL Chinese Theatre. Debuting in 1927, this is cinema’s sacred ground, a venue that has seen the rise of Hollywood in the form of countless premieres and red carpet events, including the handprint ceremonies for nearly 300 A-list celebrities. The Chinese Theatre has even starred in multiple productions, including classics like The Godfather (1972), Forrest Gump (1994) and recent films like Iron Man 3 (2013). The theatre offers a VIP walking tour seven days a week featuring insider info and fun facts.

Where to stay: Hotel Palomar Beverly Hills and  The Hotel Wilshire

Wherever your travels take you this year – especially any of these California film location destinations — remember there is Kimpton hotel nearby ready to host you during your adventure. Bon Voyage!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *