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Lights, Camera, Vacation!

Who doesn’t want a little taste of Hollywood glamour when they come to the Golden State? Hollywood might be entertainment central, but towns all over California have had a starring role in your favorite movies and TV shows. If you’re looking for a star-studded vacation in California, put these hotspots on your itinerary.

Stars of the Big Screen

Sonoma County
A visit to Sonoma County’s vineyards inspired Amy Poehler to write Wine County, but the region was lighting up the silver screen long before then. The master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, filmed Shadow of a Doubt and The Birds in the region, and years later, Wes Craven shot Scream here. George Lucas, who calls the region home, filmed parts of American Graffiti here, and director and winemaker Francis Ford Coppola set Tucker: The Man and His Dream in the area. 

Cult classic American Graffiti launched George Lucas’ career and put Concord on the map as a location for several of its scenes. The farewell scene was filmed at Buchanan Field Airport, with Concord’s Mt. Diablo and West-Wind Drive-In shown as the plane carrying Curt (played by Richard Dreyfuss) to college takes off. 

Hallmark’s 2022 romance, Marry Me in Yosemite, filmed several scenes in Oakhurst, a small town in Madera County outside Yosemite National Park. The movie features local businesses, including The Snowline Saloon and the Alpenglow Gear Company. 

If ever there was a film that put a town on the map, it was Sideways. The movie premiered 19 years ago, and visitors are still coming to Buellton for their own Sideways experience. Stay at the luxury boutique hotel Sideways Inn (where the main characters stayed on their trip), wine taste and have dinner at the Hitching Post II, and feed the ostriches at Ostrichland. 

Death Valley
Death Valley sizzles not just from the temperature but from its setting for one of the hottest films ever, Star Wars. Stay at The Oasis at Death Valley and grab the resort’s map to learn about the locations throughout the park that took movie-goers to a galaxy far, far away. 

Beverly Hills
Movie magic has been made in Beverly Hills’ Golden Triangle for decades. Follow the ‘Scene and Be Seen’ Happy Trail and visit the pink Beverly Hills Hotel from this year’s summer smash, Barbie, shop Rodeo Drive featured in Beverly Hills Cop, pose by the Electric Fountain seen in Clueless and get a sweet treat at Edelweiss Chocolates, home to the famous chocolate conveyer belt scene in I Love Lucy. Pretty Woman fans can stop by the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel to snap a selfie in the iconic elevators or sip on the Feeling Pretty cocktail at the hotel bar. 

For those who want to stay in the heart of Tinseltown, stay at The Hollywood Roosevelt. If you’re lucky, you may have the same room as Marilyn Monroe or Clark Gable. Besides being a favorite haunt of A-list guests, the historic hotel has served as the backdrop in several blockbusters, including Catch Me if You Can, Almost Famous, and the most recent version of A Star is Born with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. 

San Diego
For nearly 100 years, San Diego’s Belmont Park has delighted visitors and movie and TV directors alike. The locker rooms at its Plunge San Diego were featured in the iconic Top Gun movie. The park also appears in many reality TV shows including The Bachelorette, The Bachelor, Pawn Stars, The Kardashians and more. 

The Small Screen 

Located in Northern California and home to Mt. Shasta, one of seven sacred mountains in the world, the natural beauty of Shasta has drawn TV crews for decades. Some of the most well-known shows to shoot in the region include Modern Family, MTV Real World, Mythbusters, and House Hunters.

Fans of the 1980s hit, Murder She Wrote, will recognize that the show’s town of Cabot Cove, Maine is really Mendocino. Blair House, a popular B&B, served as Jessica Fletcher’s home, and walking through Mendocino Village, fans will spot many other familiar exteriors. All the dock scenes in the series were filmed in Noyo Harbor in Fort Bragg. 

South Lake Tahoe
With snowcapped mountains, towering pines and breathtaking turquoise water, it’s no shock that South Lake Tahoe has starred in many shows. The region served as the backdrop in the series finale of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Modern Family, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, The Hills and Gwyneth Paltrow’s The Goop Lab.

Temecula Valley
Hollywood always hits the jackpot when they film at Temecula Valley’s Pechanga Resort Casino. Pechanga is one of the largest resorts/casinos in the U.S., and makes a cameo in The Kominsky Method, Cake Masters, Storage Wars and Botched

Buena Park
Buena Park has starred in countless films and shows, including dramas like Parenthood and Criminal Minds, as well as reality TV programs. The contestants of America’s Next Top Model took the plunge on the 55 MPH Silver Bullet roller coaster at Knott’s Berry Farm, while finalists in The Next Food Network Star performed a live cooking demo at the park. 

Huntington Beach
It’s not surprising that Surf City USA is a popular TV filming locale. You can see some of the area’s top beaches in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Terminal List and Ballers. Huntington Beach’s Biergarten makes an appearance in Shameless, and White Men Can’t Jump was shot at the city’s pool. 

Del Mar
Founded by Hollywood icon Bing Crosby, the Del Mar racetrack has hosted countless stars like Ava Gardner, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Today the country’s only seaside racetrack is a popular locale for reality TV productions, including Entourage, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, I am Cait, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Orange County, The Bachelor, Dancing With the Stars, Chelsea Lately, and Total Bellas.