Behold! Los Angeles – the city of lights, cameras, and nose jobs. If you stop by tinsel town, you may consider yourself a movie buff of sorts. But don’t rely on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard to get your star taste for talent titillated. Here are a few iconic places you can visit in the Greater Los Angeles area where the magical movie moments were made. I promise you, movie locations are a lot better than urine-coated stars that have to be power washed bi-weekly to keep the stench under control. Here are 7 iconic movie moments to replicate in LA that will make you feel the movie magic.
Given these sorted times, all locations listed can be visited easily in a COVID safe way.
Petty & Pretty Moment: Pretty Woman (1990)
Pretty Woman launched beloved Julia Roberts to iconic class. Despite Julia Roberts being a household name now, the superstar had to audition twice when Disney took over the project. Disney didn’t want to cast Roberts and tried to hire several other actresses. All of whom were either unavailable or flat out turned down the role! It’s hard to believe Mickey Mouse would be such a stickler for credits.
Rodeo Drive (“Big Mistake” Iconic Scene)
Rodeo Drive & Brighton Way
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
This iconic scene puts the petty is Pretty Woman. Vivian is shoved out of the store the day prior for how she is dressed and comes back looking like a million bucks with shopping bags stacked on her arms. The scene was originally filmed at a boutique called Boulmiche. Although the original boutique moved locations, it is still run by the same management.
This has to be one of the best iconic movie moments in LA. Even though Boulmiche is in a different place, you can still have a Pretty Woman experience by walking down Rodeo and browsing the endless buffet of shops.
Fan Theories Galore Movie Moment: The Big Lebowski (1998)
When The Big Lebowski was first released, it was a total box office dud. Which came as a surprise after the Coen Brothers won an Oscar for Fargo. Nobody seemed to care about the adventures of The Dude initially. It since grew into a cult classic with a festival held yearly called the “Lebowski Fest” and a religion named in The Dude’s honor – Dudeism.
Point Fermin Park (“Goodbye, Donny” Iconic Scene)
807 W Paseo Del Mar
San Pedro, CA 90731
This classic scene where The Dude and Walter spread Donny’s ashes has stirred up plenty of fan theories including that the ashes didn’t belong to Donny and that all the characters are imaginary. Pretty trippy, I know. Thankfully, you can enjoy the beautiful views of Point Fermin Park where the scene was filmed without any ashes in hand. Or buy yourself a tin of Folgers and replicate this great scene from our list of iconic movie moments in LA with coffee grounds instead.
Aww Worthy Movie Moment: Grease (1978)
Ever miss those summer nights? The successful musical, Grease, was made into a box office hit for only six million dollars. It profited far over $400 million since its release. To this day, the movie is beloved with fantastic performances from John Travolta and Oliva Newton-John. Strangely enough, Andy Warhol was supposed to play the art teacher until the studio stepped in and put their foot down. Producer, Allan Carr, later said that he thought the studio had a personal vendetta against Andy Warhol.
Leo Carrillo State Beach (“Opening” Iconic Scene)
35000 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265
The opening scene inspired an undeniable romance between Sandy (Oliva Newton-John) and Danny (John Travolta) as well as the following song, “Summer Nights”. The beach is a gorgeous place to go for a stroll and possibly find your own Danny or Sandy.
Fashion Worship Movie Moment: Clueless (1995)
Originally pitched as a television show, this quintessential high school film is a nostalgic strut back to the ’90s. The director and writer, Amy Heckerling, actually observed Beverly Hills high schoolers to get the tone of the film. Despite this movie taking place in a ’90s plaid bubblegum fantasy, the screenplay was adapted from the classic – Emma by Jane Austen.
Circus Liquor (“This is an Alaia” Iconic Scene)
5600 Vineland Ave
North Hollywood, CA 91601
According to the director, Heckerling, the scene is based on a true story she overhead while at a dinner party. The story goes that a wife would buy her husband designer suits. One night, the man was robbed but was more scared of his wife getting mad at him over the ruined Armani suit than the robber asking him to lay on the asphalt. The liquor store used in the movie is still up and running. While you may not want to fully reenact the scene, you might want to get some snacks and snap a few pics. Despite the seedy location, this is our most fashionable of our iconic movie moments in LA.
Nostalgic Movie Moment: E.T. (1982)
Interestingly enough, this Steven Spielberg classic was also the birthplace of product placement. The filmmakers initially wanted to lure E.T. with M&M pieces. Their request was denied by the company so they decided to use Reese’s Pieces instead. Once the wholesome flick became a best seller, Reese’s sales went through the roof. Since then, companies have pushed to get their products on the big screen.
Granada Hills (Flying Bicycle Iconic Scene)
White Oak Av between Tribune Street and San Fernando Mission Blvd.
Granada Hills, CA 91344
At the time, this simple piece of movie magic was at the brink of innovation. Watching Elliott (Henry Thomas) launch into the sky on his little bike with E.T. in the handbasket is one of the most memorable scenes in the movie. Ironically, Henry Thomas revealed that it was a slog to film. They had the young actor sit on his bike in front of a blue screen and then lifted the bike on the crane. Ta-da! But this swath of land in Granada Hills is what made the moment breathtaking.
Mind Blowing Movie Moment: Back to the Future (1985)
Despite the script being rejected over 40 times, the contemporary classic became such a beloved hit that Princess Diana attended the London Premiere of the sequel.
Puente Hills Mall (The DeLorean Iconic Scene)
1600 S Azusa Ave
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
Strangely enough writer, Bill Gale, initially intended the time machine to be a refrigerator. After re-writes, he wrote the time machine as a DeLorean car which almost got thwarted by a deal with Ford. But Gale stuck to his guns and pushed for the DeLorean. The Puente Hills Mall is still up and running and would make a perfect day trip for any Back to the Future heads.
Tap-tastic Movie Moment: La La Land (2016)
The most modern of all the classics, La La Land is tied with the Titanic (1997) and All About Eve (the 1950s) for the most Oscar nominations ever received – a whopping 14! And after being announced the winner for Best Picture by accident (it went to Moonlight), the film still went home with a whopping six Oscars.
Cathy’s Corner (“A Lovely Night” Iconic Scene)
GPS Coordinates: 34.139241, -118.308324)
Mount Hollywood Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90027
While the tap-dancing sequence is the most memorable scene of the entire movie, it only took an hour in total to film. The director, Damien Chazelle, decided to film during “magic hour” which is a 30-minute window of time when the sun sets and makes the sky appear softer. This means that over two days, the crew only had an hour in total to get the scene right.
Since the popularity of the film, Los Angeles County has actually blocked off the spot from cars. I’d recommend parking a bit away and walking up to the spot with your tapping shoes ready to go.
After a year of being cooped up inside, there’s no better way to experience your favorite cinematic moments than in the place they happened. Make a great date, scavenger hunt, or solo adventure out of these 7 iconic movie moments in Los Angeles. Seeing where pop-culture history took place can bring a whole new meaning to the flick. Plus, it sure beats watching the movie for the 100th time.