Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory is one of the most iconic locations in Hollywood, perched atop the Hollywood Hills.  It offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and even the ocean.  The building opened in 1935 and has remained free and open to the public every since.  It has been seen in so many films, we felt it deserved an entire article unto itself.

The observatory is perhaps most famously know for it’s use in the 1955 James Dean film, “Rebel Without A Cause.”  However, the grounds have also been seen in such films as “The Terminator,” “La La Land,” “Back To The Future” and dozens more.  It has also appeared in countless television shows, such as “Beverly Hills 90210,” “The Wonder Years,” “24” and even “The Simpsons” (as the “Springfield Observatory”).  The observatory has also appeared in music videos, such as Paula Abdul’s “Rush, Rush,” video games, such as “Grand Theft Auto V” and on album covers, for bands such as The Byrds.

Here we’ll take a look at some of the sights of Griffith Observatory.

LOCATION: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Arnold Schwarzenegger could be seen walking nude in the original “The Terminator” film on the sidewalk to the right.  He is approached by some street thugs, including one played by Bill Paxton, before the Terminator makes short work of them.  The scene has also been recreated in some of the film’s sequels.

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Ryan Gosling drives his convertible, with Emma Stone in tow, down the sidewalk on the right in “La La Land.”

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A bust of James Dean can be found at the observatory, in honor of Deen’s classic performance in “Rebel Without A Cause,” where the film shot a memorable knife fight scene.

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The best views of the observatory are of course at night.

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The inside of the observatory has several interesting sights as well.  Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone can be seen dancing around this pendulum in “La La Land.”

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In the same film, the two gaze up at this mural on the ceiling of the observatory.

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The two also pause and look at this Tesla Coil.

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Overall, whether you’re a movie lover, a tourist, a science fan, or someone who simply enjoys beautiful views, the Observatory has something to offer almost anyone.

The Golden Girls

The house from the TV sitcom “The Golden Girls” is unique for a couple reasons.  First, despite being off the air for over 25 years, the house still looks almost virtually identical to how it appeared on the show.  Secondly, a full scale replica was actually built in Florida on the backlot of the now-defunct Disney/MGM Studios.  While the replica has long since vanished, the original is still standing strong in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood, California.

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LOCATION: 245 N Saltair Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90049

Back To The Future (1985)

We’ll be the first to admit, with a film having as rabid of a fanbase the 1985 Robert Zemeckis classic “Back To The Future,” there are far more comprehensive websites than ours available to break down the filming sites.  Having said that, that doesn’t stop us from taking a look at some of our favorite spots.

Marty McFly’s house can be found in the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles, in the town of Pacoima, California.

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LOCATION: 9303 Roslyndale Ave, Pacoima, CA 91331

Doc Brown’s house can be found over in Pasadena.  It’s the Gamble House, a National Historic Landmark and museum, which is open to public tours.  However, only the exterior was used for Doc’s house in the film.  The interior was shot at 1777 Hillcrest Ave, Pasadena, CA 91106, which is a private residence.

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LOCATION: 4 Westmoreland Pl, Pasadena, CA 91103

The Burger King where Mary hitches a ride on his skateboard, grabbing onto the back of a truck, is still operational and going strong.  You can find it in Burbank, California.

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LOCATION: 535 N Victory Blvd, Burbank, CA 91502

The Twin Pines Mall is actually the Puente Hills Mall in City of Industry.  The mall occasionally hosts events in celebration of the film.

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LOCATION: Puente Hills Mall, 1600 S Azusa Ave City of Industry, CA 91748

Inside the mall, you can even find this replica sign for the Twin Pines Mall.  Sometimes when there are special events surrounding the film, they will place this sign outside, as it appeared in the film.

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Few movie cars are as famous than the Delorean, with many fans building their own replicas.  There were in fact seven vehicles built for use in the original trilogy, with only three still known to exist.  Below is the first of those three, which appeared throughout the original film and in both sequels.  After spending 25 years as part of Universal Studio’s Hollywood Tour, the car had begun showing signs of wearing and many key pieces had been removed, including the famed flux capacitor.  A team was hired to meticulously restore the car back to it’s original form and the vehicle is now on permanent display at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.  The second Delorean is on display at Universal Studios Florida, while the third is privately owned.

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LOCATION: Peterson Automotive Museum, 6060 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

A look inside the restored vehicle.

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Here is the restored flux capacitor.

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One vehicle from the original film which can still be seen on the Universal Studios Hollywood Tour is Biff Tannen’s 1946 Ford Convertible.  Some vehicles from the sequels can also be seen there, but here we’ll strictly focus on the first film.

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George McFly’s house can be found in South Pasadena.

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LOCATION: 1711 Bushnell Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030

Marty’s mother Lorainne lives at this house, located on the same street, just a few doors down from George’s house.  This house was also used in another Michael J. Fox film, “Teen Wolf.”

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LOCATION: 1727 Bushnell Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030

The courthouse square and clock tower can be found on the Universal Studios Lot in Hollywood.  The building has been used in countless other films, including “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “Gremlins” and “Bruce Almighty.”  In 2008, a fire destroyed much of the building, but Universal restored and reopened it in 2009.  Today, it can be seen once again as part of the Universal Studios Tour, but be warned, this area frequently hosts productions and the site is routinely closed off from the tours.  If you’re adamant about seeing the tower, it’s perhaps best to call ahead and find out if it’s showing on a given day.

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LOCATION: 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Tim Burton’s 1985 film “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” introduced the world to Paul Rubens’ classic character, Pee-Wee Herman.  In the film, Pee-Wee lives at this South Pasadena home.

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LOCATION: 1848 Oxley St, South Pasadena, CA 91030

Later in the film, Pee Wee is chased around the Cabazon Dinosaurs.  The dinosaurs are a roadside attraction in Cabazon, California and can be seen from the 10 freeway.  Originally built by a sculptor and theme park artist as a way to attract customers to his nearby restaurant, the dinosaurs now operate as a small museum and gift shop.  The dinosaurs were also seen in the 1989 film “The Wizard.”  Today, visitors are able to go inside the dinosaurs, just like in both films.

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LOCATION: 50700 Seminole Dr., Cabazon, CA 92230

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The bike from the film can be seen at the Hollywood Museum in Hollywood, California.

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LOCATION: Hollywood Museum, 1660 Highland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90028

They also have one of Pee Wee’s costumes, though it is said to be from the TV show, not the film.

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The Breakfast Club (1985)

John Hughes’ 80s classic, “The Breakfast Club,” was filmed at the former Maine North High School, in Des Plaines, Illinois.  The filmmakers converted the high school gymnasium into the famous library set.  Today, the building is no longer a high school at all.   It’s used as an Illinois State Police Station.

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LOCATION: 9511 Harrison St, Des Plaines, IL 60016

One of the most highly disputed film locations you’re ever likely to encounter is the football field, where Judd Nelson does his famous fist pump at the end.  Some insisted it was filmed at the same high school as the rest of the production; Maine North.  Others insisted it was filmed at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois, where John Hughes himself was an alumni.  The majority of the arguments centered between these two locations, with former students from each school disputing which field was used.  Others still have claimed it was filmed at Maine South High School in Park Ridge or Maine West in Des Plaines.  The argument persisted until 2015, when the cinematographer of the film, Thomas Del Ruth, confirmed to the Chicago Tribune it was indeed the now-defunct Main North High School football field; the same location where principle production took place.  The field has since been demolished, but the confusion remains so strong, many people to this day still recreate the fist pump photograph at Glenbrook North.

My So-Called Life

The short-lived, but well remembered 90s TV drama “My So-Called Life,” where Claire Danes and Jared Leto got their starts, was set in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. However, as is the case with so many films and TV series, the house seen in the show was actually based in Southern California.  It can be found in South Pasadena.  The house was also used in Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake of “Halloween.”

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LOCATION: 1110 Glendon Way, South Pasadena, CA 91030

The Big Lebowski (1998)

“The Big Lebowski,” one of the great comedies of the Coen Brothers, shot all around the greater Los Angeles area.  Several of the movie locations are surprisingly difficult to gain access to however, so if you’re a fan of the film and want to check out the places where it was shot, just be aware it may be a more difficult process than you’d expect.

First, we start with the apartment of The Dude, played famously by Jeff Bridges.  The exterior apartment complex can be found in Venice, while the interiors were shot on a sound stage.  The complex has since been renovated, but still bears some resemblance to how it appeared in the film.

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LOCATION: 606 Venezia Ave, Venice, CA 90291

The apartment complex across the street can also be seen in the film.  This complex is frequently mistaken as being The Dude’s.

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LOCATION: 609 Venezia Ave, Venice, CA 90291

Just outside of the apartments on Venezia Ave, looking down toward Zeno Pl, you’ll see where The Dude confronts Da Fino, the brother shamus.

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LOCATION: Venezia Ave, Venice, CA 90291 (in front of The Dude’s apartment)

The famous bowling alley in the film no longer exists.  It was the Hollywood Star Lanes, formerly located at 5227 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029.  The building was torn down in 2002 to make way for a children’s elementary school.

The Big Lebowski’s mansion consisted of two locations.  The exterior was shot at 10231 Charing Cross Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90024.  It is a private, gated property, closed to the public.  The interior of the mansion is the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills.  The City of Beverly Hills actually owns the property, which is routinely used for filming.  The outside grounds are open to the public, but getting inside is more difficult.  Due to hosting productions and private events on a regular basis, only a few times a year does the city open the inside up for public viewing.  It can be done if you are patient and keep an eye out for these select dates, however.

Inside the Greystone Mansion, this wall is where The Dude talks with Brandt, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and looks at all of The Big Lebowski’s awards and achievements, including his “Little Lebowski Urban Achievers.”  It’s known as the “Breakfast Room” inside the mansion.

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LOCATION: Greystone Mansion, 905 Loma Vista Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Brandt is seen walking these hallways of Greystone Mansion several times in the film, as are The Dude and Walter, played by John Goodman.

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Another famous location inside of Greystone Mansion; The Dude talks to the distraught Big Lebowski in front of this fireplace, where The Dude is hired to find the kidnapped Bunny Lebowski.

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The very same room was used in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood,” as Daniel Plainview’s office, where his son visits him late in the film.  A little tip for Lebowski fans, this room can usually be seen without access inside the Greystone Mansion.  If you go to the front of the building and look through the windows, usually there are no curtains and this room, which is on the ground level, left of the main windows, can be seen.  The hallway Brandt walks down can also be seen through a doorway window, just around the corner to the left of this room, near the fish pond.  Only the Urban Achievers room truly requires access inside the mansion to be seen.

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The Dude, Walter and Donny pay a visit to Larry Sellers’ house, “near the In-N-Out Burger.”  It’s in front of this home that Walter destroys the red corvette.  Today, the home is partially obscured by trees.

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LOCATION: 1824 Stearns Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90035

Late in the film, The Dude pays a visit to Jackie Treehorn’s house.  In the film, the property is shown as being right on the beach.  Those beach scenes were filmed at Point Dume in Malibu.  In reality, however, the house is located in the hills of Benedict Canyon, nowhere near the beach.  It’s the Sheats-Goldstein House, one of the most unique and famous houses in Los Angeles.  It’s actually located just above Cielo Dr, where the Manson Family’s infamous murder of Sharon Tate and four others took place.  The house regularly hosts photo shoots for models and at one time even allowed porn shoots.  In 2016, the property was donated to LACMA, which hosts occasional events there.  The house is tucked away at the end of a cul-de-sac, down a long, private drive and is not visible from the street.  Unless you are a professional photographer or model, the only way to get onto the property is most likely, similar to Greystone Mansion, to keep your eyes peeled for a rare, public invitation.

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LOCATION: 10104 Angelo View Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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Stand By Me (1986)

Widely regarded as one of the finest Stephen King adaptations, “Stand By Me” was set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine.  However, the film was actually shot around Oregon.  The boys set about their adventure at this bridge in the small community of Walden.  To find it, you will need to follow the Row River Trail up to Mosby Creek.

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LOCATION: Row River Trail at Mosby Creek, Cottage Grove, OR 97424

Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982)

The 80s comedy “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” like so many other films of that era, shot in the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles, California.

The mall scenes in the film were shot at the Sherman Oaks Galleria, which has since been completely remodeled and looks nothing like it did in the film, so we’ve opted to omit it here.  However, it can be found at 15301 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403.

The titular Ridgemont High was primarily filmed at Van Nuys High School in Van Nuys, California, with a few additional scenes shot at Canoga Park High School and James Monroe High School.

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LOCATION: Van Nuys High School, 6535 Cedros Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91411

Brad, played by Judge Reinhold, and Stacy Hamilton, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, live at this house in West Hills, but it’s mostly remembered for the pool scene with Phoebe Cates.  That scene really was filmed at the pool in the back yard, which is unfortunately not visible from outside of the property.  Visitors can still see the front of the house, however, which is shown several times in the film.

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LOCATION: 24124 Welby Way, West Hills, CA 91307

“The Point,” where Stacy loses her virginity later in the film, was shot at the Mid Valley Youth Baseball fields in Encino.  There are quite a number of fields here, which can be confusing, but each of them is numbered.  The field from the film is field 4 and the dugout from the film is the third base dugout.

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LOCATION: 17301 Oxnard St, Encino, CA 91316