Our article on Season 1 of the TV series “True Detective” remains one of the biggest location searches we’ve ever done, through the small towns of Southern Louisiana. For the second season of the show, writer Nic Pizzolatto shifts the setting to Southern California in the fictional city of Vinci, loosely based on the city of Vernon, which had a corruption scandal not unlike what is depicted in the show.
The locations are just as plentiful as the first season, spanning from Santa Paula to Santa Ana, from Mt. Baldy to Beverly Hills and everything in between. The show presents a more gritty look into Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. Visiting the locations is a deep dive into Southern California and one that should only be done if you’re a fan of the show, as it won’t take you to any tourist destinations. Sometimes you’ll even find yourself in somewhat unsafe neighborhoods.
The following article contains numerous spoilers for the show, so we recommend only reading if you’ve seen the complete second season. As is often the case with TV shows, many of these locations appear in multiple episodes, so we’ll cover each location by where they first appear.
Episode One – “The Western Book of the Dead”
The season begins with Detective Ray Velcoro, played by Colin Farrell, dropping his son off at school.
LOCATION: 2125 Lincoln Ave, Torrance, CA 90501
The Black Rose bar, where Ray frequently meets Frank Semyon, played by Vince Vaughn, over the course of the series is located in Vernon. It is mostly seen from interior views in the show, but the building is not actually a bar. It is a private building closed to the public and it is unclear if the interiors were actually filmed here or elsewhere. The exterior is seen a few times in the show as well, however. Frank gives Ray info on who assaulted his ex-wife, leading Ray to seek revenge on the assailant.
LOCATION: 2465 E 53rd St, Vernon, CA 90058
The establishing shots of the fictional city of Vinci were shot around Vernon.
LOCATION: Seen from the parking lot behind 3666 S Soto St, Vernon, CA 90058
The casino where Frank works could be found in Gardena. The actual casino has since closed down.
LOCATION: 1045 Rosecrans Ave, Gardena, CA 90247
Detective Ani Bezzerides, played by Rachel McAdams, runs an eviction raid on this home, which is located in Santa Paula, about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
LOCATION: 593 Orcutt Rd, Santa Paula, CA 93060
Ray’s house can be found in Vernon. It is located right next to City Hall, also seen in the show.
LOCATION: 4322 Furlong Pl, Vernon, CA 90058
Bezzerides follows a lead on a woman to the Panticapaeum Institute, a spiritual retreat run by her father. These scenes were filmed at Wayfarers Chapel in Ranchos Palos Verdes. The same location was featured in the 1980s comedy “Innerspace.”
LOCATION: 5755 Palos Verdes Dr S, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Here are the stairs from which the detectives approach.
The chapel is a very scenic place to visit, offering views overlooking the ocean.
The California Highway Patrol Station where Highway Patrol officer Paul Woodrugh, played by Taylor Kitsch, works could be found in Hawthorne. It was a real police building, also featured in the TV series “True Blood” and the film “Zodiac.” The building has since been demolished. Here is the area where it formerly stood.
LOCATION: 4440 W 126th St, Hawthorne, CA 90250 (now demolished)
Ray parks outside of this apartment building, where he plans to attack the man he believes raped his ex-wife Gena.
LOCATION: 15464 Moorpark St, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
The apartment where he stages the attack is located across the street.
LOCATION: 15445 Moorpark St, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Ray visits this house at night, where a boy who has been bullying his son lives. Ray beats the boy’s father in front of him at the front door, as a warning to stop bullying.
LOCATION: 19825 Needles St, Chatsworth, CA 91311
Bezzerides gets escorted out of a casino when she receives a call about a new case.
LOCATION: 6580 Auto Center Dr, Ventura, CA 93003
Woodrugh discovers the body of Ben Caspere sitting on a picnic table at Point Magu Rock, overlooking the ocean. Detectives Ray Velcoro and Ani Bezzerides are called to the scene, where the three officers meet and the stage is set for the case. There are no picnic tables at the actual location, but it is a popular scenic overlook.
LOCATION: Point Magu Rock, 799 Pacific Coast Hwy, NAS Point Mugu, CA 93042
Episode Two – “Night Finds You”
Ray visits the city of Vinci, where he sees kids playing in the toxic water draining into this river channel. In the same area, he meets with Frank. The drainage hole was a visual effect added by the show.
LOCATION: Near 2715 E Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90023
Woodrugh visits his mother at this trailer park.
LOCATION: 4456 Naval Air Rd, Oxnard, CA 93033
A brief transition shot is shown of these train tracks in Vinci.
LOCATION: Near 2552 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90023
Ray visits this shopping plaza to see his son, but is instead greeted by his ex-wife Gena. Angry over Ray’s violent assault on the bully’s father, Gena tells him she will be petitioning for sole custody. The scene was filmed at the Northridge Mall. It’s a large place, so we’ve provided GPS coordinates below to the specific parking lot.
LOCATION: 9301 Tampa Ave, Northridge, CA 91324 (GPS coordinates: 34.240655, -118.556896)
After some men attack a man on the street, Frank pretends to be a bystander, before threatening the man himself. This scene was filmed near the same freeway overpass seen in the films “Heat” and “Scarface.”
LOCATION: Near 749 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Ray and Bezzerides visit the clinic of Ben Caspere’s doctor. These scenes were filmed at the Hummingbird Nest Ranch in Simi Valley. The property regularly hosts weddings and special events. It is otherwise a private estate, only allowing guests by appointment. The only road leading to the ranch is typically gated shut with no trespassing signs. The property has also appeared in Oliver Stone’s “Savages,” “Jobs” starring Ashton Kutcher and in the TV series “Too Old To Die Young.”
LOCATION: 2940 Kuehner Dr, Simi Valley, CA 93063
Frank visits the mayor at the Vinci City Hall. The opposite side of the building is where Ray’s house can be found.
LOCATION: 4305 S Santa Fe Ave, Vernon, CA 90058
Episode Three – “Maybe Tomorrow”
Bezzerides and Woodrugh visit the house of the mayor of Vinci, which can be found in Beverly Hills.
LOCATION: 1091 Laurel Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Ray and Bezzerides follow up on a lead when their car is set on fire under this freeway overpass.
LOCATION: 11502 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90061
Episode Four – “Down Will Come”
Woodrugh is unexpectedly confronted by the press in front of this hotel.
LOCATION: 7023 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Frank pays a visit to this apartment, where he informs the owner he is now 40% partner of the property. The apartment complex is seen from the interior courtyard in the show. The apartment next door was also featured in the film “Collateral.”
LOCATION: 1029 S Union Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Woodrugh’s girlfriend informs him she’s pregnant at this restaurant.
LOCATION: 2601 S Soto St, Vernon, CA 90058
Woodrugh locates a stolen watch at this pawn shop.
LOCATION: 5901 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
After Bezzerides find out she has a sexual misconduct complaint filed against her, she has an argument with her partner outside the police department. The same location was featured in the film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” This building has since been demolished. It formerly stood at 333 N Prairie Ave, Inglewood, CA 90301.
The pawn shop lead brings the detectives to a suspect. While the cops are watching the area ahead of their raid, workers file into this building.
LOCATION: 615 S Anderson St, Los Angeles, CA 90023
Protesters gather in front of this building.
LOCATION: 560 S Mission Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90033
Bezzerides and her team approach past this building to begin the raid.
LOCATION: 607 S Anderson St, Los Angeles, CA 90023
A shootout ensues from this building, with a large explosion on the top floor.
LOCATION: 621 S Anderson St, Los Angeles, CA 90023
Ray and Woodrugh make it through the gunfire over to this door at foot of the building.
They then cross these stairs in front in pursuit of the suspects in a vehicle.
The suspect vehicle then crashes into a bus at this intersection, where another shootout ensues.
LOCATION: Jesse St / S Anderson St, Los Angeles, CA 90023
Episode Five – “Other Lives”
Burdened by financial issues, Frank is forced to move into a more modest home.
LOCATION: 1400 N Spaulding Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Bezzerides meets the woman she ran a raid on in the first episode at this hotel. While speaking to her, she obtains information on a private party.
LOCATION: 401 S Westlake Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90057
Ray follows a group of prostitutes to a nondescript building. He parks in front of this building.
LOCATION: 1951 Staunton Ave, Vernon, CA 90058
He sees the prostitutes enter into this building.
LOCATION: 2001 Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90058 (seen from E 20th St)
Frank has a business meeting, where a man offers him a deal to own some land again, if Frank can locate a hard drive owned by Ben Caspere. The location is next to Union Station and the establishing shot shows Union Station, then pans slightly toward the building to the right, where the meeting takes place.
LOCATION: 800 Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012, panning towards 700 Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Ray meets his ex-wife Gena at this scenic area overlooking Dodger Stadium and Downtown Los Angeles. His wife informs him her rapist was captured and it wasn’t the man Ray believed it was, therefore the information Ray had was incorrect. This area is the Elysian Park Helipad. There is parking nearby and a path that leads up directly to this area. It is not a difficult walk to reach it. This area is located close to where a dream sequence in “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” was shot.
LOCATION: Elysian Park Helipad, Solano Canyon Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (GPS coordinates: 34.082766, -118.236997)
Bezzerides and Woodrugh follow a lead in the Caspere case to a lodge in the woods. Known as the Harwood Lodge, it can be fount in Mt. Baldy, about 50 miles away from Los Angeles. There is a dirt road that leads up to the lodge, which is sometimes best reached by walking, depending on weather conditions.
LOCATION: 6700 Mt Baldy Rd, Mt Baldy, CA 91759
Bezzerides notices birds circling in the air in the woods nearby, leading them to the discovery of another crime scene.
Episode Six – “Church in Ruins”
Frank and his crew arrive at this home in search of a prostitute. Instead, he finds out the home belongs to the Mexicans criminals seen previously in the show, when Frank refused to form a partnership with them. Frank now renegotiates.
LOCATION: 1521 Colton St, Los Angeles, CA 90026 (seen from Lake Shore Terrace)
After the Mexicans put Frank in touch with the woman he’s been searching for, he arranges to meet her at this location, only to discover her dead body there. The Mexicans have killed her as retribution against Frank for not accepting their initial terms.
LOCATION: 2901 Fruitland Ave, Vernon, CA 90058 (seen from E 50th St)
Episode Seven – “Black Maps and Motel Rooms”
After Ray and Woodrugh rescue Bezzerides from a party in which she was drugged and attacked, the three stay at this motel in Mt. Baldy, located not far from the cabin seen in episode six.
LOCATION: 6867 Mt Baldy Rd, Mt Baldy, CA 91759
Woodrugh searches police records at the LAPD building in Downtown Los Angeles.
LOCATION: 100 W 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Woodrugh goes to meet a man who is blackmailing him at the Hall of Records. It turns out to be a set-up.
LOCATION: 320 W Temple St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (seen from N Hill St)
Woodrugh is shot at the steps of old Los Angeles Police Department in Downtown Los Angeles, which has since been demolished. The same building was featured in the film “Inherent Vice.”
LOCATION: 150 N Los Angeles St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (now demolished)
Episode Eight – “Omega Station”
Frank sends his wife Jordan, played by Kelly Reilly, away at the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center. The same location was featured in such films as “Rain Man” and “Memoirs of an Invisible Man.”
LOCATION: 1000 E Santa Ana Blvd, Santa Ana, CA 92701
Jordon refuses to leave until Frank finally persuades her.
Ray and Bezzerides enter this home and discover a lot of evidence about the case, as well as the fact that Laura and Leonard Osterman were behind the attack on Caspere.
LOCATION: 1000 El Mirador Ave, Long Beach, CA 90815
Bezzerides sends Laura Osterman away on a bus at this station. The real location is not a bus station at all, rather a boarding terminal for cruise ships in San Pedro.
LOCATION: 100 Swinford St, San Pedro, CA 90731
Frank makes his way to the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center to meet the corrupt cops under the agreed plan of exchanging incriminating evidence in his possession.
LOCATION: 2626 E Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806
Ray makes his way to the upper level inside the building.
Leonard Osterman then attacks one of the men and a shootout begins.
Ray parks at this intersection to see his son one last time, only to discover a tracking device on his vehicle. The intersection really is located next to the school, seen in the first episode.
LOCATION: Lincoln Ave / Apple Ave, Torrance, CA 90501
The Mexican criminals kidnap Frank at this intersection.
LOCATION: E 16th St / Hooper Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90021
They proceed onto the freeway here.
LOCATION: E 17th St / Naomi Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Bezzerides escapes to what is supposedly Venezuela. In reality, the scenes were shot in Downtown Los Angeles, with a lot of set decoration and some visual effects to fill the city backdrop.
LOCATION: E 11th St / Wall St, Los Angeles, CA 90015
There remain dozens more locations we did not document from the second season. Some are minor, others are major, but not easily visible for photography. Los Angeles is a constantly changing city and just a few short years later, several locations already no longer exist. We’ve tried to document as any as we could here. If you do plan to visit the season 2 filming locations, it requires a lot of time and distance, so do your research and allow yourself many days to navigate it all.
Related articles: True Detective (Season 1)