This piece originally appeared as part of our Be A Tourist in Your Own Town guide, in the December 2017 issue of Los Angeles magazine.
L.A. is packed with sites that have enjoyed the sort of screen time struggling actors would kill for. Below you’ll find a day-long itinerary to help you scope out the real-life backdrop of some of your favorite films and TV shows, from Mad Men to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
Start with cinnamon loaf French toast at Carrows Restaurant (815 Fremont Ave.), the diner where Linda Hamilton worked in The Terminator. A few blocks west, right across the metro Gold Line tracks (the same ones Jennifer Garner ran past in 13 Going On 30, incidentally), are two sinister spots: Michael Myers’s pad in Halloween (1000 Mission St.) and the hardware store where he stole that creepy mask (966 Mission St., which is an Indian restaurant today). A couple of blocks south is Laurie Strode’s house (1115 Oxley St.); the homeowners graciously provide prop pumpkins year-round so fans can pose like Jamie Lee Curtis.
Stop at City Hall in nearby Pasadena (100 N. Garfield Ave.). Built in 1927, the domed Beaux Arts stunner played the Pawnee, Indiana, City Hall on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. Barely two miles south is a pair of iconic onscreen homes: the idyllic Colonial from Father of the Bride (843 S. El Molino Ave.) and, across the street, Don and Betty Draper’s Ossining, New York, residence from Mad Men (675 Arden Rd.). Three miles north is the Gamble House (4 Westmoreland Pl.), the Green & Green-designed estate where Doc Brown lived in Back to the Future.
Head over to the 1300 block of Carroll Avenue to see the largest collection of Victorian homes in L.A., each with its own rich Hollywood history. Ola Ray sought refuge at 1345 Carroll, known as the Sanders House, in Michael Jackson’s Thriller; the Halliwell sisters called 1329 home on Charmed; and Doris Roberts lived at 1324 in Grandma’s Boy. Fans of The Office will find Holly’s Nashua, New Hampshire, house close by (1347 Kellam Ave.)
Veer downtown to the Bradbury Building (304 S. Broadway), a frequent film star best known as J.F. Sebastian’s apartment in the original Blade Runner. Walk one block north till you hit Angels Flight Railway (351 S. Hill St.), the tiny funicular that Mia and Sebastian rode briefly in La La Land. Take it to the top of Bunker Hill for a look at the adjacent Angel’s Knoll (356 S. Olive Ave.). The park is shuttered, but you can still sneak a peek at Tom’s beloved bench from (500) Days of Summer.
Venture west to see the residence where a young Matthew Broderick almost started World War III in War Games (333 S. Arden Blvd.), the home where Lea Thompson and Eric Stoltz partied in Some Kind of Wonderful (516 S. Hudson Ave.), and James Spader’s digs from Pretty in Pink (366 S. June St.). Nearby in Hollywood is the Las Palmas Hotel (1738 N. Las Palmas Ave.), where Julia Roberts lived in Pretty Woman before Richard Gere came along. The fire escape where she “rescues him right back” is still intact 27 years after its cameo.
Between its landmark status and cinematic cachet, the Santa Monica Pier is a celeb in its own right. It’s where Tom Hanks “ran clear to the ocean” in Forrest Gump and the location of the 1916 Looff Hippodrome (1625 Ocean Front Walk), where Paul Newman worked and lived in The Sting. Ride the carousel inside before calling it a (very productive) day.
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.