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Here's How to Take a "Couch-cation" to California

California’s natural vistas and thriving entertainment industry make it a frequent backdrop for movies and television shows. If you can’t visit California right now, sit back and immerse yourself in iconic scenes set throughout the Golden State.


If you’re looking to “rosé all day” from the comfort of your couch, Netflix has you covered. “Wine Country” (2019) takes viewers on an epicurean adventure through Napa Valley, including Artesa Winery and Baldacci Family Vineyards in Napa, Quintessa in St. Helena, and the charming Lincoln Avenue in downtown Calistoga. Following six girlfriends on a birthday getaway, the film offers up gorgeous views of the rolling vineyards, hilltop estates and boutique shops that California Wine Country is famous for.

Stuck at home but craving an adrenaline rush? Santa Cruz served as the backdrop for the Netflix original movie, “Bird Box” (2018), with many scenes filmed at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Locations in Del Norte County and Humboldt County were also featured in the film, including Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Crescent City and the Smith River. The post-apocalyptic thriller, starring Sandra Bullock, was viewed by 45 million Netflix members the first week it came out, making this movie a viral sensation.

Need a feel-good sitcom? Netflix has five seasons of “Fuller House,” the spin-off of the beloved “Full House” show, just waiting to give you all the feels. The show follows the life of D.J. Tanner-Fuller and her three sons, who move into her childhood home following her husband’s death. While most of the series has been filmed in a studio, “Full House” fans will recognize the iconic home, which is located in San Francisco at 1709 Broderick Street in Lower Pacific Heights.

If you’re binge-watching some classic films, there’s a good chance you’re visiting California - at least virtually. On Netflix, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984) includes many shots from the Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite areas, along with some scenes from the South Fork of the American River, and “Back to the Future III” (1990) is set in the charming town of Sonora, located in Tuolumne County - the backdrop of over 300 movies, television shows, documentaries and commercials.


If you love a good action scene, you’re probably familiar with the stunt in “XXX” (2002) where Vin Diesel’s character drives a red Corvette off a 730-foot bridge and parachutes to the bottom. What you might not know is that the scene was filmed at the massive Foresthill Bridge in Auburn, part of California’s Gold Country, and that many of the movie’s avalanche scenes were filmed in Lake Tahoe. With Hulu’s STARZ add-on, you can watch “XXX” anytime, transporting yourself to wild Northern California.

Home to the world’s tallest trees, California’s forests are a popular choice for producers looking to film an incredible nature scene. Films like “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” (1997) and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), available on Hulu with the Live TV add-on, will leave you awestruck by the natural beauty of the Redwood National & State Parks.

A true coming-of-age film, “Stand By Me” (1986) follows the adventure of four Oregon boys who hear of a stranger that was accidentally killed near their homes. While parts of the movie were shot over the Oregon border, the famous scene where the boys form lasting friendships was filmed at Lake Britton Bridge in California’s Shasta Cascade region. Numerous other scenes were filmed in the surrounding area, near McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park and McCloud, California.


If you’re looking for a good series to watch (or rewatch), look no further than “Big Little Lies.” Full of binge-worthy drama, this popular television show is set against the epic backdrop of Monterey County’s picture perfect coastline. The series features popular attractions including Old Fisherman's Wharf, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Del Monte Beach, Lovers Point Park and more.

A feel-good favorite, “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993) is full of classic San Francisco attractions and vistas. The family’s home is located in the affluent Pacific Heights neighborhood, Mrs. Doubtfire’s apartment is located in the Telegraph Hill district, the famous Powell/Hyde Cable Car makes an appearance, and the scene where the kids are playing football and riding bikes was shot at the iconic Crissy Field. Claremont Hotel & Spa in Berkeley and a few other Bay Area locations also make an appearance.


“The Majestic” (2001), starring Jim Carrey, was filmed primarily in Humboldt and Mendocino counties, with the town of Ferndale being transformed to the small town for the film. While Ferndale was where most of the filming was done, including where The Majestic theater was built for filming, other destinations included Mendocino, Fort Bragg and Trinidad, where the car crash scene was filmed.

Cult fans of “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” (1985) will recognize The Cabazon Dinosaurs located just west of Greater Palm Springs. Dinny the Dinosaur who is 150 feet long and Mr. Rex who is 65 feet tall are visible from the freeway to travelers passing by on Southern California’s Interstate 10.

Riverside County is home to the Mission Inn, which has appeared in many films throughout the years. Featured in Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Man in the Iron Mask” (1998) and Anthony Hopkins’ “Nixon” (1995), this hotel makes visitors and guests feel like they’re on a movie set.

The dramatic high desert landscape of Mono County has drawn the arts and entertainment industries for decades. Mammoth Lakes’ dramatic skyline has replaced Tibet, Nepal, Switzerland, Austria, Alaska and the Rockies in films like “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “Ride the High Country.”

Curious what it’s like to grow up in Sacramento, California’s State Capital? “Lady Bird” (2017) features many highlights throughout Sacramento, including the Tower Theater, Crest Theater, Gunther’s Ice Cream Shop and some of the city’s vibrant murals.

Los Angeles is the center for filming, with countless movies and tv shows filmed throughout the city. Griffith Observatory, in the heart of the city, has served as the backdrop for many films, including “La La Land” (2016) starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.

The iconic Beverly Wilshire hotel, a plush Four Seasons property sitting at the corner of Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard, was the setting for most of "Pretty Woman" (1990). Don’t ask to book the same suite where Julia Roberts took her bubble bath though since those scenes were shot at another L.A. hotel (which no longer exists); in true Hollywood style, that other hotel got a makeover to look like the Beverly Wilshire.

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (2019) is legendary director Quentin Tarantino’s “love letter to Hollywood,” taking viewers into the heart of Hollywood’s 1969 Golden Age. Iconic film locations include Musso & Frank Grill, Playboy Mansion, and The Bruin & Village Theatres.

Coronado Island holds its own alongside Marilyn Monroe in "Some Like It Hot," the 1959 classic with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. With its red-turreted roof and expansive beach, the Queen Anne–style Hotel Del Coronado makes a lasting impression on cinephiles.

It might look like a galaxy far, far away, but several of the scenes in “Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope” (1977) were actually filmed in Death Valley. Alongside locations in Tunisia and Guatemala, Dante's View, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Desolation Canyon, Artist's Drive and Golden Canyon made up the unique landscape of the Tatooine desert. If you’re re-watching the series, you’ll see an entirely different side of California in “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” (1983) - the scenes in the forest of Endor take place in the Tall Trees Redwood Grove of Humboldt County’s Redwood National & State Parks.

Starring Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage, “The Rock” (1996) is a thrilling masterpiece that gives viewers an up-close look at San Francisco and Alcatraz Island (The Rock, as it was known by its inmates). Perfect for adrenaline-lovers, the film features high-speed car chases on Nob Hill and explosions all over the famous Alcatraz Island.