The Ultimate L.A Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Summer Fun in Los Angeles

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People ak me all the time about where to go and what to do when they visit Los Angels.

Everyone from friends and family, to strangers and people I bearly know. It always takes me houers to write about my favorite places and the “must see” places, so from now on, I’m just gonna give them a link to this post 😀

The ultimate LA-guide!

Thanks to its gorgeous year-round weather, Los Angeles is the epitome of the Southern California lifestyle. As the days grow longer and the nights heat up in the summer, LA offers even more things to do under the sun and stars. From outdoor movies and concerts to red-hot hotel pools and world-famous beaches, read our guide to the best ways to have summer fun in LA.

OUTDOOR MOVIES

Photo courtesy of Cinespia, Facebook

For movie fans, the summer outdoor movie season in Los Angeles is the best of all worlds: classic films and modern hits, shown on a big screen under the stars, with plenty of great food and drink. Gather your friends and enjoy hours of entertainment with our guide to LA’s outdoor movies.

OSCARS OUTDOORS (Jun. 5 – Aug. 24)

Oscars Outdoors is a summer screening series at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s open-air theatre, located on the Academy Hollywood campus. The series features a permanent 40 x 20 foot screen, a 10,000 sq. ft. plaza, and lawn seating. Food trucks are curated by Roaming Hunger. The 2013 season kicks off with two special free screenings: Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing on Wednesday, June 5; and an advance screening of Twenty Feet from Stardom on Thursday, June 6. The weekend Oscars Outdoors program includes California-centric titles, and films with international locales from Paris and India to Neverland and Skull Island.

Online tickets to each screening are $5 for the public; free for children 10 years and younger; and $3 for Academy members and students with ID. Seating is unreserved. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and screenings begin at sunset. Guests are encouraged to dress warmly, and to bring a blanket or low lawn chair. Picnic baskets, beer, and wine are permitted. Smoking is not permitted. No pets, but service dogs are allowed.

OUTDOOR MUSIC

Photo courtesy of the Santa Monica Pier, Facebook

SUMMER FESTIVAL AT THE HUNTINGTON (Jul. 13 – Aug. 25)

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Southwest Chamber Music’s Summer Festival at The Huntington. Founded in 1987, the Grammy® Award-winning Southwest Chamber Music provides concert and educational programming that combines European classics, contemporary American works, and new music from Latin America and Asia. Four programs will take place at The Huntington Library every other weekend in July and August.

Ticket buyers can choose from Loggia or Lawn seating. The Loggia is an ideal venue for an outdoor concert—covered, but open on three sides for sunset views and excellent acoustics. Loggia patrons have unreserved seating in chairs on the same level as the performers, while Lawn patrons also enjoy wonderful sound while relaxing on a blanket under the stars. All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.

HIKING IN LA

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Hiking in Griffith Park | Photo courtesy of Renee Silverman, Flickr

Getting acquainted with the numerous hiking trails in Los Angeles is the perfect way to discover why LA is the ideal place to get outside. Most of the hikes listed here are easy to moderate, so it’s not necessary to be an experienced hiker to enjoy them. However, it’s always wise to keep a few things in mind when you’re planning an excursion. Wear sturdy hiking shoes, carry plenty of drinking water, use sunscreen and wear sunglasses. Take along a camera, make sure you stay on the trails and have fun.

Heart-of-Hollywood Hike

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  • Trail: Runyon Canyon Loop
  • Distance: About 3 miles round-trip
  • Special Feature: The views at Cloud’s Rest, the off-leash policy for dogs and the occasional celebrity sighting
  • Getting There: From Hollywood Blvd., head north on Fuller Ave. Park at the end of Fuller and enter the well-marked park. Take the trail to the right and complete the loop counterclockwise.

By no means is this hike a wilderness experience, so if you’re looking for solitude, you might want to try other trails. On the other hand, this is a great hike for people-watching, and it gives beginning hikers a chance to check out the Hollywood Hills and the amazing views at the trail summit, known as Cloud’s Rest. Whether you’re wearing the latest hiking gear or just sneakers and sun hats, this is a fun hike highlighted by million dollar mansions and priceless views of the Hollywood sign, the Sunset Strip and the LA Basin.

Griffith Park Trails

Bronson Cave | Photo courtesy of Shawn Park, Flickr
  • Trail: Bronson Canyon
  • Distance: Less than a mile roundtrip
  • Special Feature: “To the Batcave!”
  • Getting There: From Franklin Ave. in Hollywood, go north on Canyon Dr. until the road ends, at the “Camp Hollywoodland” parking lot. Cross the small, red concrete bridge on the right (east) side of the road. Walk around the vehicle barrier, keep left and follow the unpaved road for the short walk into Bronson Canyon.

Located in the southwest section of Griffith Park and easily accessible from Hollywood, Bronson Canyon has been a popular location for generations of filmmakers who make use of its remote-looking, somewhat alien setting. Bronson Canyon has been featured in classics like The Searchers and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, as well as more recent films like Star Trek VI and Army of Darkness. “Bronson Cave” is actually a 50-foot long tunnel, the remnants of a quarry that was founded in 1903 and originally called Brush Canyon. The tunnel entrance is best known as the mouth of the Batcave from the 1960s Batman TV series.

  • Trail: Griffith Observatory West Trail Loop
  • Distance: About 2.5 miles
  • Special Feature: Views of Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign and the LA Basin
  • Getting There: The hike starts at the Fern Dell picnic area near Los Feliz Blvd. You can pick up the trail near the creek past the restrooms. Stay to the right and head uphill toward the Griffith Observatory. You’ll be able to stop and enjoy views of the city along the way. As the path flattens out, you’ll see a trail to the right leading up to the observatory. On the way back, stay right all the way down the hill. The trail will curve around a bit and then take you back to the Fern Dell picnic area.
  • Trail: Brush Canyon Trail
  • Distance: About 2 miles
  • Special Feature: Peace and quiet, as well as spectacular views near Mount Hollywood Dr.
  • Getting There: You can park in the lot on Canyon Dr., located just past Bronson Park. From there, head uphill past the gate and pick up the trail on the fire road heading toward the Pacific Electric quarry. You’ll pass a park and a picnic area and then climb out of the canyon. After about 3/4 of a mile, the trail intersects with the Mulholland Trail. Follow the trail to the right and continue another 1/4 mile to Mount Hollywood Dr. To get back, follow the same route, taking a left at the Mulholland Trail junction.

Franklin Canyon Park

Franklin Lake | Photo courtesy of Ken Shelton, Flickr
  • Trail: Discovery Trail
  • Distance: About 1 mile round-trip
  • Special Feature: Franklin Canyon Lake and the Sooky Goldman Nature Center
  • Getting There: From West Los Angeles, head north on Beverly Drive, following signs to Coldwater Canyon. Turn left on Coldwater/Beverly Dr., and turn left again on Beverly Dr., at Fire Station No. 2. The third right is Franklin Canyon Dr. Continue through the residential area to the park entrance. At the intersection of Franklin Canyon Dr. and Lake Dr. turn right to go to Franklin Canyon Ranch site, or turn left to go to the Sooky Goldman Nature Center and Franklin Canyon Lake.

Located near Benedict Canyon at the geographical center of Los Angeles, Franklin Canyon Park spans 605 acres and features over five miles of hiking trails. The park’s history dates to 1914, when William Mulholland built the Upper Franklin Canyon Reservoir. In the 1930s, the family of oil baron Edward Doheny used the canyon as a summer retreat. The easy stroll around the reservoir offers plentiful views of birds and wildlife, as well as access to other, more difficult trails such as the Hastain Trail, which rises to offer views from West LA to the Pacific.

Pop culture fans will likely recognize Franklin Canyon Park, which is frequently used as a TV and film location, including the famous hitchhiking scene from It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. The 3-acre Franklin Lake was the “fishing hole” in the opening credits of The Andy Griffith Show, as well as the lagoon in the Universal Studios horror classic Creature from the Black Lagoon. The park was also the background for the cover photo of Simon & Garfunkel’s album Sounds of Silence.

Wilacre Park

Studio City, viewed from TreePeople | Photo courtesy Kristen Neveu, Flickr
  • Trail: Betty B. Dearing Trail
  • Distance: About 2.5 miles round-trip
  • Special Feature: Panoramic views of the San Fernando Valley, TreePeople, “Rainforest”
  • Getting There: From Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, take Laurel Canyon Blvd. about a mile south to Fryman Road. Make a right and you’ll see the large parking lot, which features restrooms, water fountains and picnic area.

Because its parking lot entrance is located on Fryman Road, the 128-acre Wilacre Park is often mistakenly referred to as Fryman Canyon Park. In fact, this hike can take you through three parks: Wilacre, Fryman Canyon and Coldwater Canyon. The well-shaded, dog-friendly Betty B. Dearing Trail starts off steep before it begins to level off after a quarter mile. One mile into your hike and you’ll be at Coldwater Canyon Park, home of TreePeople, a leading environmental nonprofit organization. The cul-de-sac at Iredell Lane leads you to the hidden Rainforest Trail within Fryman Canyon.

Will Rogers State Park Trek

photo courtesy of Petunia21, Flickr
  • Trail: Rustic Canyon Loop/Inspiration Point Trail
  • Distance: About 6 miles round-trip
  • Special Feature: Exploring what was once the private ranch of a Hollywood star
  • Getting There: Head to Will Rogers State Park in Santa Monica. The main road to the park is just off Sunset Blvd. about a half mile east of Chataqua Blvd. You can park the car near the visitor’s center. The hike begins just behind the main ranch house at the park, next to the sign for Inspiration Point Trail.

After about a mile, you’ll see the turnoff for Inspiration Point. It’s a quick detour and worth the effort to head up this side route for some spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, the LA Basin and the Santa Monica Mountains. Follow Backbone Trail to the junction with Rustic Canyon. Follow that trail back to Will Rogers Park. After the hike, explore the park and enjoy a picnic on the massive lawn in front of the house.

Topanga State Park Trek

photo courtesy of Rashomon, Flickr
  • Trail: Los Liones Trail to Parker Mesa Overlook
  • Distance: About 7 miles round-trip
  • Special Feature: The magnificent views at Parker Mesa Overlook
  • Getting There: The hike begins in Pacific Palisades at the end of Los Liones Drive, just north of Sunset BLvd. Leave the car in the parking lot at the end of the street. From there, follow the trail up to East Topanga Fire Rd. and follow that to the turnoff for the Parker Mesa Overlook.

Switchbacks and steep hill climbs characterize the first two miles of this hike. With an elevation gain of about 1,300 feet, it’s definitely a tougher climb. But you can find your reward as you gaze out from a vantage point atop the bluff. Enjoy a picnic lunch or relax on a bench while taking in the overlook.

Solstice Canyon Hike

Rising Sun Trail | Photo by Daniel Djang
  • Trail: Solstice Canyon / Rising Sun Trail
  • Distance: About 3 miles round-trip
  • Special Feature: Tropical Terrace and gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean
  • Getting There: From Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Central Malibu, take Solstice Canyon Rd. to the entrance, located at Corral Canyon Rd.

Solstice Canyon is an easy hike along a shaded trail that is partially paved before it gives way to a fire road. A babbling brook is the soundtrack as the trail leads you to Tropical Terrace and the foundations of a house designed by renowned architect Paul Williams, who also designed homes for Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball, as well as the Theme Building at LAX. For space and science geeks, Solstice Canyon is a must-see; it was one of only three sites in the world where TRW tested satellite equipment for space missions. Depending on the time of year, a waterfall cascades into a pool in the rocks behind the former home. Do some exploring and you’ll find a statue of the Virgin Mary in a nearby grotto. You can take Solstice Canyon back, or work up a sweat on the switchbacks that take you to the Rising Sun Trail at the top of the hills. Panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean are your reward for the huffing and puffing. Unlike the cooler Solstice Canyon path, the aptly named Rising Sun Trail has zero shade, so plan accordingly.

Escondido Canyon Waterfall Trek

Photo courtesy of kagee219, Flickr
  • Trail: Escondido Canyon and Falls
  • Distance: 4.2 miles round-trip
  • Special Feature: The waterfall at the end of the trail
  • Getting There: Head northwest on PCH from Santa Monica for about 17 miles. Not far from Solstice Canyon and just past Latigo Canyon Rd., you’ll see the turnoff for East Winding Way, where you can park in the well-marked lot. Follow the paved road toward the mountains. It’s a little less than a mile to the end of East Winding Way. You’ll see the entrance of Escondido Canyon Park clearly marked at the end of the pavement.

From the trailhead, it’s about a mile-long trek to the falls. The trail crosses Escondido Canyon Creek several times, so prepare to get your feet wet if you’re hiking in the rainy season. This is a gradual climb that drifts in and out of tree covering, alongside canyon walls. Soon, you’ll be standing at the base of the 50-foot-high Escondido Falls, admiring the multi-tiered cataract flowing over moss-covered rocks.

In the springtime, the waterfall is usually quite active, but the amount of water varies depending on the time of year. Scramble up the rocks to see the upper level and even more of the falls — the upper tier is about 100 feet high. Wading in the pool beneath the falls is a great way to cool off before heading back along the same route.

Vasquez Rocks Trek

Photo courtesy of Derek Cross, Flickr
  • Trail: Foot/Horse Trail, History Trail
  • Distance: About 3 miles
  • Special Feature: Otherworldly rock formations, Pacific Crest Trail
  • Getting There: From Santa Clarita in northern LA County, take the Golden State Freeway (I-5) north to the Antelope Valley Freeway (CA14) north toward Palmdale/Lancaster. Exit on Agua Dulce Canyon Rd., turn left and follow the signs to the park entrance.

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is a 905-acre park located in Agua Dulce, about an hour north of Downtown LA. The park’s striking, multi-colored rock formations reach heights of 150 feet and are the result of tens of millions of years of seismic activity and erosion. Vasquez Rocks takes its name from the outlaw Tiburcio Vásquez, who used the area as one of his many hideouts. A portion of the famed Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches 2,663 miles from Canada to the Mexico border, passes through Vasquez Rocks. The gentle incline and numerous trails provide plenty of options for exploring the park. The excursion is especially memorable when combined with views from atop the famous rocks. Note that there is very little shade throughout the park, so plan accordingly.

Star Trek fans will instantly recognize Vasquez Rocks from Captain Kirk’s battle with the Gorn in the Season 1 episode “Arena,” several other episodes, as well as the film series. Dozens of classic TV shows have filmed at Vasquez Rocks, including Bonanza, The Rifleman, Kung Fu, Mission: Impossible and The Twilight Zone. Vasquez Rocks was also featured in movies such as Dracula (1931), Blazing Saddles (1974) and Little Miss Sunshine (2006). Because of its significance as a prehistoric site for the Shoshone and Tataviam peoples, Vasquez Rocks was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

EIGHT GREAT BEACHES

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The Getaway: Leo Carrillo State Park

Located in Malibu 28 miles north of Santa Monica on the Pacific Coast Highway, Leo Carrillo State Park offers a beach that stretches for more than a mile, dotted with sea caves, tidepools and other beach-combing delights. The park is named after the actor and preservationist who served on the California Beach and Parks Commission for 18 years. A small visitor center offers interpretive displays, as well as guided nature walks and campfire programs. Picnic areas, campsites and RV facilities are also located in the park, so if you’re looking to set up shop for a while and enjoy the scene, this might be the perfect spot.

35000 W. Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, 805.488.1827

The Hopeless Romantic: El Matador Beach

El Matador Beach | Photo courtesy of Shawn Park, Flickr

Depending on how hard you try, you might be able to find a more romantic experience in LA, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more romantic beach than El Matador. Located about 10 miles northwest of Malibu, this secluded pocket beach has rocky shores, robust waves and some of the clearest water in LA. But don’t be deterred by the lack of facilities or the rugged path to the shore; once there, you’ll find that it’s the perfect place to enjoy a sunset dinner in one of the hidden coves.

32215 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, 310.305.9503

The Surf Spot: Malibu’s Surfrider Beach

Surfrider Beach, Malibu | Photo courtesy of Salina Canizales, Flickr
A little love on the beach <3
A little love on the beach ❤

When it’s time to get out the surfboard, apply a new coat of wax and zip on the wetsuit, there’s no better place to be than Surfrider Beach in Malibu. As the waves roll in and begin to curl near the shore, surfers paddle furiously to catch those perfect waves of ocean bliss. You don’t have to be an experienced surfer to appreciate the act of surfing, the cool vibe at the beach or the toned bodies of the surfers. In fact, sometimes it’s better to just be a spectator when the crowds get hectic and you’re fighting to catch a wave.

23050 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu, 310.305.9503

The Classic Stretch of Sand: Santa Monica State Beach

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Located just north of the Santa Monica Pier, this is one of the most popular beaches in LA. At two miles long, it seems to go on forever and offers plenty of space to stretch the legs, set up for a game of volleyball or go for a bike ride. Bring the sunscreen, a little cash for parking and a beach towel or blanket. Let the sun, sand and surf do the rest.

380 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, 310.305.9503

The People Watcher: Venice Beach

Photo courtesy of Eric Lassiter, Flickr

Venice Beach is one place where it’s almost as much about the people as it is about the surf or the sand. In fact, the world famous Ocean Front Walk often upstages the Pacific Ocean. As you’re strolling the boardwalk, keep an eye out for Harry Perry, the turbaned guitar player on roller blades who has appeared in numerous films and TV shows. This is also the place to see bodybuilders, chainsaw jugglers and a full complement of palm readers, folk artists and other colorful characters.

3100-2700 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, 310.305.9503

TV Star: Manhattan Beach

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At Manhattan Beach, it’s all beautiful people, shiny cars, big sunglasses and little lap dogs. But that’s in the trendy area of town next to the shore, where scenes from many television shows have been filmed. On the sand, you’ll find beach volleyball at courts that seem to go on for miles, and bodysurfing near the pier. Check out the aquarium at the end of the pier, with its interesting sea creatures and touch pool. When it comes to getting in the water, you should know that surfing is limited to the south side of the pier and boogie boarding is confined to the water north of the pier. Swimming is prohibited in the areas immediately adjacent to the pier.

400-500 The Strand, Manhattan Beach, 310.305.9503

The Hipster Hangout: Hermosa Beach

Photo courtesy of Shannon Howard, Flickr

There’s a certain hipster vibe at Hermosa Beach and its surrounding seaside community that you won’t find at other LA beaches. You’re just as likely to see people shopping and relaxing in outdoor cafes as you are the tanned and toned beach gods and goddesses that frequent the sandy shoreline. Pier Plaza is the place to hang out when you’d rather skip the sunscreen and beach towels. Once you’re on the shore, a pristine expanse of sand awaits, with volleyball nets, plenty of space for sunbathing and sandcastle building, and a paved walkway for strolling or biking.

Hermosa Ave. and 33rd St., Hermosa Beach, 310.305.9503

The Family Favorite: Cabrillo Beach

Photo courtesy of airbutchie, Flickr

Popular among travelers and locals hitting the beach with kids in tow, Cabrillo Beach is a tranquil setting near San Pedro, with everything you need for the perfect family outing. Located on a thin peninsula near Point Fermin Park, the beach actually has two sides — one outside the breakwater that’s open to the surf, and one that’s open to the harbor. Depending on the activity, you can select either side and enjoy some adventure or some well-deserved relaxation. After you’re finished with the beach, head to the nearby Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and enjoy the interactive exhibits, tidepool touch tanks and other unforgettable attractions.

3720 Steven M. White Drive, San Pedro, 310.305.9503

LA’S HOTTEST HOTEL POOLS

Photo courtesy of W Los Angeles – Westwood, Facebook
The Standard Hotel Downtown | Photo courtesy red.dahila, Flickr

Here in Los Angeles, pools are an art form, and the hotels on this list are going way beyond swimming laps. With LA’s perpetual sunshine and mild year-round climate, swimming pools are attractive destinations no matter when you visit.

You need to be a hotel guest if you want to take a dip in many of these pools, but some welcome non-guests who just want to enjoy the atmosphere.

Terranea Resort

The coastal Terranea Resort has perfected the pool experience by offering three choices for getting your swim on. There’s one for families with a 140-foot waterslide and a splashy fountain for giggling little ones, an adults-only option for those seeking tranquility, and a salt-water oasis that welcomes those fresh from an exhilarating spa treatment. All three have ocean views and are ringed by cabanas for refuge from the sun.

TOP 10 OUTDOOR FILM LOCATIONS

Malibu Creek State Park | Photo courtesy of 45SURF, Flickr
Queen Anne Cottage | Photo courtesy of Angelo Henry, Flickr

By Harry Medved and Bruce Akiyama, co-authors of Hollywood Escapes: The Moviegoer’s Guide to Southern California’s Great Outdoors

Outdoor enthusiasts and moviemakers have long sought the same kind of destinations: awe-inspiring, far-flung and picturesque locales that make you say, “take me there” and grab the attention of Academy voters. Luckily for Los Angeles locals and visitors alike, many of those memorable cinematic places are right underneath our noses, in our own backyard. Two of this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Picture, Argo and Django Unchained, were partially filmed in our region, although you would never know it from their exotic locales.

For film fans, hikers and lovers of the great outdoors, here are ten of our favorite big-screen backdrops that have appeared in Oscar-recognized films.

1. ZUMA’S POINT DUME BEACH, MALIBU

Point Dume | Photo courtesy of 1 Johnny, Flickr

Oscar Nod: Planet of the Apes (Honorary Award to make-up artist John Chambers)
Malibu’s Westward Beach Drive will take you to a wide swath of white sand underneath spectacular headlands and rewarding whale-watching spots. Point Dume was the site of Dr. Evil’s Volcano Island in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and the memorable finale of the original Planet of the Apes.

2. MALIBU CREEK STATE PARK, CALABASAS

Malibu Creek State Park | Photo courtesy of 45SURF, Flickr

Oscar Nod: HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (Best Picture Winner)
Beloved by M*A*S*H fans as the location of the 4077 army hospital, this scenic Santa Monica Mountains wonderland has also appeared as Wales in John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley, a Southern ranch in Elvis Presley’s first film, Love Me Tender, and a Shangri-La swimming hole in 1937’s Lost Horizon. Park features include the Rock Pool, climbing wall, and an extensive overnight campground. The park’s visitor center played a New England home in From the Terrace with Paul Newman.

3. GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY, HOLLYWOOD HILLS

Bust of James Dean at Griffith Observatory | Photo courtesy of Shawn Park, Flickr

Oscar Nod: REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (Best Supporting Actress Nominee Natalie Wood)
Multiple hiking trails converge at this 1935 retro-futuristic LA landmark. Best known for its starring role in James Dean’s Rebel Without a Cause, the Griffith Observatory more recently made appearances in Devil In a Blue Dress, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Transformers and Gangster Squad.

4. BRONSON CANYON CAVE, GRIFFITH PARK

Bronson Cave | Photo courtesy of Shawn Park, Flickr

Oscar Nod: JULIUS CAESAR (Best Actor Nominee Marlon Brando)
Nestled in the foothills above Hollywood Boulevard and at the northern end of Canyon Drive, Bronson’s iconic quarry has been seen in everything from classic Westerns (The Searchers, Ride the High Country) to beloved sci-fi (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Robot Monster). The cave is most famously identifiable as “The Batcave” on the 1960s Batman TV series.

5. POINT FERMIN, SAN PEDRO

Point Fermin Lighthouse | Photo courtesy of Kelly Densmore, Flickr

Oscar Nod: CRASH (Best Picture Winner)
This seaside urban green space, complete with a 1874 Victorian lighthouse, historic Band Shell, and sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean, is located near the southern terminus of LA’s Harbor Freeway. It’s here that detective Jack Nicholson discovers what happened to the missing reservoir water in Chinatown. Surrounding highlights include Walker’s Cafe (Gods and Monsters), Fort MacArthur Military Museum (Pearl Harbor), the 1932 Cabrillo Beach Bathhouse (Face/Off), and the Korean Friendship Bell (The Usual Suspects) at Angels Gate Park. The entrance to Angels Gate was the setting of a pivotal scene in Crash, when Matt Dillon rescues Thandie Newton.

6. LA COUNTY ARBORETUM, ARCADIA

Queen Anne Cottage | Photo courtesy of Angelo Henry, Flickr

Oscar Nod: MARATHON MAN (Best Supporting Actor Nominee Laurence Olivier)
You can get lost in this vast city park located east of downtown LA, which was originally a private ranch and botanical garden used for filming Tarzan the Ape Man and Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious. The main attraction is the 1885 Queen Anne Cottage, best known for its role on TV’s Fantasy Island and as the Florida home of Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand in Meet the Fockers.

7. ARROYO SECO’S GABRIELINO TRAIL, PASADENA

Gamble House | Photo courtesy of D1v1d, Flickr

Oscar Nod: BACK TO THE FUTURE (Best Original Screenplay Nominee), shot at the nearby Gamble House
This shady jungle-like forest near Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) served as a crime scene for Murder by Numbers with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Gosling. Other films shot in this surprisingly lush glen at the edge of the Angeles National Forest include Michel Gondry’s Human Nature and Rob Reiner’s North. Neighborhood landmarks include the Colorado Street Bridge (from Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid), the Huntington Gardens (Bridesmaids), the 1908 Gamble House (Doc Brown’s home in Back to the Future), and the Langham Hotel (Saving Mr. Banks with Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson).

8. VASQUEZ ROCKS NATURAL AREA PARK, AGUA DULCE

Vasquez Rocks | Photo courtesy of Derek Cross, Flickr

Oscar Nod: LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (Best Supporting Actor Winner Alan Arkin)
Named after Tuburcio Vasquez, the famed Mexican bandit who used this spooky desert backdrop as his hiding place, Vasquez Rocks are the strange rock formations that can be seen along Highway 14 (the Antelope Valley Freeway) in northern Los Angeles County. Its most famous appearances include TV’s Star Trek, Blazing Saddles, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Adventure, Short Circuit and as the modern Stone Age family community of Bedrock in 1994’s The Flintstones. The rocks can be glimpsed during a road trip scene in Little Miss Sunshine. Nearby movie ranches include Melody Ranch, seen in Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning Django Unchained and the site of the annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival.

9. PARAMOUNT RANCH, AGOURA

Paramount Ranch | Photo courtesy of Greg Lilly, Flickr

Oscar Nod: BEAU GESTE (1939 Art Direction Nominee)
Paramount Pictures bought this expansive Santa Monica Mountains parcel in 1927 as a wilderness backlot. The first 3-D blockbuster, 1953’s Bwana Devil, used these Malibu hills as an African jungle setting, but it’s best-known for its still-intact Western town, which played a Colorado hamlet in the 1990s TV series, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. The ranch is located just a few miles from the Kanan Road exit off the 101 Highway.

10. LEO CARRILLO STATE BEACH, MALIBU

Leo Carrillo State Beach | Photo courtesy of kayno919, Flickr

Oscar Nod: Clint Eastwood’s LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA (Best Picture Nominee)
The highlight of this picturesque shoreline at Malibu’s northwestern end is a hidden sea cave near Lifeguard Tower #3. It was the site of Drew Barrymore’s and Adam Sandler’s first kiss in 50 First Dates and the witches’ ritual incantation in The Craft. The rocks nearby can be seen in Gidget, Beach Blanket Bingo, Grease, The Karate Kid and the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, when Keira Knightley gets Johnny Depp drunk on rum.

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