10 Great Movies Filmed in San Diego - San Diego Explorer (2022)

Best Movies Filmed in San Diego

Lights! Camera! Action!

There’s something exciting about visiting the sites where some of our favorite movies were filmed. Perhaps it makes us feel a more live and personal connection to the picture. Or even just a fun piece of “did you know?” trivia to share with friends.

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As we know, San Diego is blessed with fabulous weather, stunning sunsets, a picturesque waterfront, and of course, San Diego is a Navy town. So, it’s no wonder that hundreds of Hollywood films were made here.

Let’s look at some of these most popular, fabulous, fun, and fascinating movies filmed in San Diego, and explore the locations where they were shot. Lucky for us, they are places where we can still walk in the footsteps of the stars like Tom Cruise, Marilyn Monroe, Will Farrell, and famous filmmaker, Orson Welles. And the best part? They are free to visit!

10 Popular Movies Filmed in San Diego

Top Gun – Multiple Locations

This 1986 classic film Top Gun turned Tom Cruise into a movie icon and superstar.Brash and overconfident hotshot Navy fighter Lt. Pete Mitchell (Maverick) competes for “Top Gun” status against classmate Val Kilmer (Iceman) while fighting his own personal demons and engaging in a hot, romantic relationship.

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Now a Marine Corps Air Station, the former Miramar Naval Air Station was for years known as Fighter Town U.S.A. – home of Navy’s Top Gun training school.

Kansas City Barbeque in downtown San Diego was the setting for the scene with Anthony Edwards bashing out “Great Balls of Fire” on the piano, along with his co-stars Meg Ryan and Kelly McGillis.

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The intersection of West Laurel and Union Streets in Bankers Hill was the movie location where Charlie (McGillis) chases down Maverick (Cruise) on his motorcycle. As you go up the hill, you’ll see the massive palm tree on the right where the scene was filmed.

Point Loma Coast Guard Lighthouse located on the tip of Point Loma was the location of Viper (Tom Skerritt’s house) in the movie. Though the lighthouse isn’t accessible to the public, you can see it looking down from the Cabrillo Monument. From this vantage point, views of the city, San Diego Bay, the navy base, and even all the way to Mexico on a clear day are spectacular.

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Some Like It Hot – Hotel Del Coronado

Who hasn’t heard of the beautiful blond Marilyn Monroe? She and co-stars Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis got to work, hang out, and enjoy the magnificent surroundings of the 1888 historic Hotel del Coronado while filming the 1958 classic comedy, Some Like It Hot.

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The quintessential and legendary beach resort’s walls are filled with old photos of the stars taken while the movie was being filmed. Adjacent pictures feature foreign dignitaries, royalty, and other celebrities– all previous distinguished guests of The Del.

All exterior scenes of the resort and the Coronado Municipal Beach were filmed on location. Visitors to the Hotel Del can still stand on the same beach and take in the same views of the Pacific Ocean and the hotel as once did these famous stars.

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Citizen Kane – Balboa Park

Considered by many critics to be one of the greatest films ever made, Citizen Kane, the 1941 classic drama was filmed in numerous locations throughout Balboa Park. The story was based on several real-life characters, most notably, newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst.

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Most of the pictures of Kane’s Florida estate called Xanadu in the film are a montage of shots of Balboa Park’s “El Cid” equestrian statue, the San Diego Museum of Art, Museum of Man with its California tower, and the picturesque reflecting pond. As if we need a reason to go back to this stunning location, it’s even more fun to watch this classic film and then visit Balboa Park for the real deal!

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Freaky Friday – Mission Bay

Disney’s 1976 comedy classic Freaky Friday, starring Jodi Foster, depicts a mother and daughter who’ve swapped bodies and now have to find a way to switch back.

Much of the movie was filmed on Mission Bay due to its beautiful scenery, natural lighting, and of course, the bay itself. A water-skiing competition at the conclusion of the movie is where the two personalities revert back to their normal selves.

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Almost Famous – Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is one of San Diego’s more laidback communities with a 1970s hippie vibe– the perfect setting for the 2000 award-winning comedy-drama flick, Almost Famous. The film tells the story of a coming of age teenage journalist reporting on a rock band called Stillwater, based on the real-life Allman Brothers.

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The screenplay was written by former San Diegan Cameron Crow who had been a teenage writer for Rolling Stone and former music critic for the San Diego Union Tribune. Filming took place at the former San Diego Sports Arena and of course, the famed Newport Avenue in the nearby community of Ocean Beach.

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Attack of the Killer Tomatoes – San Diego Harbor and UCSD

UCSD alumni may get some feelings of déjà vu while watching the 1978 mockumentary, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. The cult classic is a spoof on B-rated movies depicting mutant tomatoes revolting against humanity. The movie was filmed entirely in San Diego and scenes included the university’s parking lot and administrative buildings.

The Majestic Star of India, the world’s oldest merchant sailing vessel still in operation and located in the picturesque San Diego Harbor also played a role in the film.

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Traffic – Multiple Locations

An award-winning film starring Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Zones, Benicio Del Toro, and an international ensemble cast, Traffic is based on the escalating war on illegal drugs and cross-border trafficking.

Multiple filming sites around the city include the Rancho Bernardo Inn, Botanical Garden of Balboa Park, San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina, Hall of Justice, La Jolla, and even a real-life car explosion in downtown San Diego.

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Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy/Anchorman: The Legend Continues – Multiple Locations

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Who can possibly forget these two crazy funny films starring Will Farrell as San Diego anchorman Ron Burgundy? Only, according to Ron, it’s pronounced “San-dee-ahh-go!”

The first Anchorman film included only aerial shots of the downtown. However, the 2013 second movie’s filming sites were more expansive, including Balboa Park, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, and the stunning San Diego waterfront.

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Bruce Almighty – Harbor Island

Much of the 2003 movie Bruce Almighty starring Jim Carrey was filmed on the East Coast. However, the directors realized that the flick about a man who’s been given almighty powers to rule the world needed some additional scenes. So, off the cast and crew headed to the West Coast to capture the film’s night scenes on San Diego’s Harbor Island.

Interestingly enough, the film crew had to work with local leaders and businesses to ensure holiday and harbor lights were all shut off during shooting.

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When all is said and done, we San Diegans can understand why filmmakers chose American’s Finest City as settings for their movies. For our benefit, we know it’s super good for the economy, and as local residents it’s fun to claim bragging rights to these many iconic locations.

Which movies will be filmed in San Diego next? We can’t wait to find out. Also share in the comments your favorite movies filmed in San Diego!

Movies filmed in San Diego was written by Noreen Kompanik for SanDiegoExplorer.com.

Movies filmed in San Diego – Pin for Later:

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Last Updated on February 9, 2021 by Maria Haase

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FAQs

What movies were filmed at the Del Coronado? ›

Filming Location Matching "Hotel del Coronado - 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado, California, USA" (Sorted by Popularity Ascending)
  • Some Like It Hot (1959) ...
  • My Blue Heaven (I) (1990) ...
  • The Stunt Man (1980) ...
  • K-9 (1989) ...
  • $ (1971) ...
  • Circle of Fear (1972–1973) ...
  • Wicked, Wicked (1973) ...
  • The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything (1980 TV Movie)

What movies were filmed at the San Diego Zoo? ›

Filming Location Matching "San Diego Zoo, San Diego, California, USA" (Sorted by Popularity Ascending)
  • Citizen Kane (1941) ...
  • Rampage (1963) ...
  • Killer Tomatoes Strike Back! ...
  • Night Chase (1970 TV Movie) ...
  • Betty White Goes Wild (2013 TV Movie) ...
  • Poto and Cabengo (1979) ...
  • Me at the Zoo (2005 Video)

How many movies were filmed in San Diego? ›

Though the number isnt known, it has been estimated that there are approximately 500,000 movies (or, narrative fiction feature-length, theatrical-cinema films) currently in existence.

What movies have been filmed at Balboa Park? ›

Filming Location Matching "Balboa Park - 1549 El Prado, San Diego, California, USA" (Sorted by Popularity Ascending)
  • Almost Famous (2000) ...
  • Citizen Kane (1941) ...
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) ...
  • Traffic (2000) ...
  • Dorm Daze (2003) ...
  • My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009) ...
  • Scavenger Hunt (1979) ...
  • Mighty Oak (2020)

What was filmed at Hotel del Coronado? ›

Filmed at Hotel del Coronado in 1958, “Some Like It Hot” showcased the talents of Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon while also highlighting the hotel's assets – a spectacular sun-drenched silhouette of Victorian architecture, the perfect backdrop for the film's 1929 setting.

Where did Marilyn Monroe stay in San Diego? ›

Having San Diego's Queen Anne–style Hotel del Coronado—about 120 miles south of Los Angeles—portray a Florida resort was a stroke of geographic luck, according to Some Like It Hot director Billy Wilder.

Was Jurassic Park filmed in San Diego? ›

The sequence takes place in San Diego, California, but only one sequence was actually filmed there. When the InGen helicopter flies over the wharf and banks towards the city, that is actually San Diego. The rest of the scenes were filmed in Burbank, California.

Why is San Diego Zoo so famous? ›

The zoo is renowned for its endangered species breeding programs and conservation efforts; the department of Conservation and Research for Endangered Species conducts research with such animals as pandas, tree kangaroos, clouded leopards, gavials, meerkats, and Tasmanian devils.

What is San Diego known for? ›

San Diego is renowned for its idyllic climate, 70 miles of pristine beaches and a dazzling array of world-class family attractions. Popular attractions include the world-famous San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California.

What movies were filmed in the orange circle? ›

The Orange Plaza circle was a featured location during the filming of 2004 Christmas comedy, "Surviving Christmas", featuring Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini and Christina Applegate. A large portion of the Plaza was covered in snow during filming.

Where in San Diego was almost famous filmed? ›

Almost Famous was shot in San Diego, California, USA. Hollywood Palladium, Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and Continental Hyatt Hotel in Hollywood, San Diego Sports Arena, University of San Diego High School were among the filming locations. Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Was Scarface filmed in San Diego? ›

Scarface was filmed in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Beverly Hills, California; Miami Beach, Florida; and New York City, New York, USA.

Where was Jurassic Park 2 filmed San Diego? ›

Shooting. The Lost World was filmed at Kauai, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Patrick's Point State Park, Eureka, Burbank, California and San Diego. Although the ending takes place in San Diego, only one sequence is actually shot there, where the InGen helicopter flies over the wharf and banks towards the city.

What is the most filmed place in the world? ›

The most-filmed location in the world is Central Park in New York City, with 532 movie credits.

What city has the most movies filmed in? ›

It might come as no surprise that the home of Hollywood is the setting for most movies, with 543 films shot in Los Angeles. These include the Back to the Future trilogy and the Fast and Furious franchise. London comes in at a close second place, with an impressive 529 movies being made in the UK's capital.

Does anyone famous live in Coronado? ›

Several celebrities lived in Coronado, including Charlie Chaplin, Dick Van Dyke, silent film star Anita Page, commercial-making popcorn king Orville Redenbacher, Nick Reynolds of The Kingston Trio and Daniel Stern.

What famous people have stayed at Hotel del Coronado? ›

Hotel del Coronado has always had the ability to attract Hollywood “royalty” as well as its newest superstars. In the 1970s and 1980s, The Del played host to mega-celebrities such as Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and Burt Lancaster, as well as Goldie Hawn, Sylvester Stallone, and Renee Russo.

Why is Coronado Hotel so famous? ›

Charlie Chaplin

Aside from its movie making celebrity roster, Hotel Del Coronado has been a storied SoCal vacation destination for Hollywood stars since its earliest days, with esteemed visitors such as W.C. Fields, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin.

Where do celebrities live in San Diego? ›

Celebrities who live in La Jolla, Del Mar, and North County are all making a choice to live apart from where they work and make most of their money.

How much are rooms at Hotel del Coronado? ›

What beach is like it hot? ›

“Some Like It Hot” Filmed at Hotel del Coronado. In 1958, Hotel del Coronado made Hollywood history when it became the setting for director Billy Wilder's classic comedy, Some Like It Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon.

Where in San Diego was lost world filmed? ›

Filming began on September 5, 1996, at Fern Canyon, part of California's Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Production continued in northern California for two weeks at locations such as Eureka, Sue-meg State Park, and private property in Fieldbrook. Filming in Humboldt County concluded on September 19.

Where is the mansion from Jurassic World? ›

Cragside House as Locklwood Manor in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Cragside, in Rothbury, was used to film scenes for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The house doubles up as Lockwood Manor – the mansion of character Benjamin Lockwood, played by actor James Cromwell – and shots of it can be seen in the film.

Where was the waterfall scene in Jurassic World filmed? ›

Where did they film the “Jurassic Park Waterfall and Landing Platform” scene? The Jurassic Park Waterfall is located in the jungle of Hawaii surrounded by a breathtaking scenery. Manawaiopuna Falls is the real name and it lies in the heart of Kauai, the fourth largest Hawaiian island.

What is the #1 zoo in America? ›

1. San Diego Zoo | San Diego, CA. Renowned across the country, San Diego's zoo, founded in 1916, is home to over 12,000 animals of more than 650 species and subspecies. Among them are red pandas; African elephants; and bonobo apes.

What is the oldest animal at the San Diego Zoo? ›

At A Glance

Some of the Zoo's oldest—and slowest—residents are the Galápagos tortoises. Several have been with us since 1928, making them the oldest residents in the Zoo.

Why is San Diego so amazing? ›

San Diego has some of the best beaches in the US. And each beach has its own vibe. Ocean Beach is the hippy beach, Pacific Beach is home to the college crowd, Mission Beach is for the active ones, and La Jolla offers some spectacular cliffs as a backdrop. San Diego is the perfect place for a Beach vacation.

What do you call someone from San Diego? ›

San Diegan (plural San Diegans) Someone from San Diego.

Does anyone famous live in Coronado? ›

Several celebrities lived in Coronado, including Charlie Chaplin, Dick Van Dyke, silent film star Anita Page, commercial-making popcorn king Orville Redenbacher, Nick Reynolds of The Kingston Trio and Daniel Stern.

What famous people stayed at the Hotel del Coronado? ›

During the war years, the hotel also played host to Bette Davis, Gary Cooper, Kirk Douglas, Judy Garland, Maureen O'Hara, Mickey Rooney, Lana Turner, and Rudy Vallee. After the war, celebrity sightings included George Sanders, as well as Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

How many movies is Hotel del Coronado in? ›

Since then, it has been featured in at least 12 other films, including: Some Like It Hot (1959), starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis, where it represented the "Seminole Ritz" in southern Florida; Wicked, Wicked (1973), which was completely filmed on location there; The Stunt Man (1980), starring Peter ...

Why is Hotel del Coronado famous? ›

While the Del has been the location for many movies, perhaps the most famous was Some Like It Hot (1959), starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. The Hotel del Coronado was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.

What famous person lives in La Jolla? ›

Both Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have houses there. The Fairgrounds and Racetrack is a good place to begin your search. Rancho Santa Fe has been a favorite haunt of Bing Crosby and Howard Hughes. Let's not forget about Phil Mickelson, Bill Gates, and Jenny Craig.

What movie stars live in San Diego? ›

9 Famous Celebrities Who Live in San Diego
  • Bill Gates. Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft Corporation. ...
  • Drew Brees. Drew Brees is an American football quarterback, who currently resides in San Diego. ...
  • Zandra Rhodes. ...
  • Aaron Rodgers. ...
  • Tony Hawk. ...
  • Steve Perry. ...
  • Rey Mysterio. ...
  • Shaun White.
26 Jul 2022

Where do celebrities hang out in San Diego? ›

7 San Diego Hot Spots for Spotting Celebrities
  • Del Mar. The beach city of Del Mar was founded in 1885 by Colonel Jacob Taylor with the intention of building a resort by the sea for the rich and famous—the Del Mar Inn. ...
  • Carlsbad. ...
  • Encinitas. ...
  • La Jolla. ...
  • Coronado. ...
  • Downtown San Diego.
25 Mar 2019

Who is the ghost at the Coronado Hotel? ›

Kate Morgan – a young woman who checked into Hotel del Coronado in 1892 – never checked out. Instead, it's thought her lovely likeness and gentle spirit remain as the resort's resident ghost. Learn more about her story.

Who lives in Coronado Island? ›

In total, the city is home to about 24,000 people, with a median age of 37 and an average household income of $142,000 per year. About two-thirds of people living in Coronado are married, and 40% of the local population is made up of families with kids under the age of 18.

Is Coronado Island a true island? ›

Just over the bridge from San Diego is a small, tree-lined beach haven known as Coronado. The "island," as many locals call it, is really a peninsula connected to the mainland by a neck of land named the Silver Strand.

What shows have been filmed in San Diego? ›

TV shows
  • Bucket & Skinner's Epic Adventures on Nickelodeon (2011–2012)
  • Cavemen on ABC (2007)
  • Criminal Minds (Season 1, Episode 4; Season 6, Episode 21; Season 10, Episode 5; Season 12 Episode 10) on CBS (2005-2020)
  • Drake & Josh on Nickelodeon (2004–2007)
  • The Ex List on CBS (2008)
  • The Fosters on ABC Family.

How much are rooms at Hotel del Coronado? ›

How many movies have been filmed at Vasquez Rocks? ›

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park, the site of more than 200 films and television shows, is also a popular hiking spot. It's in the Sierra Pelona Mountains of northern Los Angeles County.

What is Coronado Island nickname? ›

Coronado was discovered by Sebastian Vizcaino, a Spanish explorer, in 1602. He named the islands “Los Coronados,” or “The Crowned ones.” This name stuck, and Coronado's name was official. This name is what leads to Coronado's nickname “The Crown City.”

Why is the sand gold in Coronado? ›

The fine sand at Coronado Beach sparkles like gold dust year-round! The glittery mineral mica is mixed into the sand. This mineral keeps the soft sand sparkling, and makes the beach even more beautiful. People of all ages love building castles from the sand, and we totally get it!

Can you eat at Hotel del Coronado without staying there? ›

Can I visit the restaurants, spa, shops, or beach if I am not staying overnight? Yes. We welcome San Diego locals and day visitors to enjoy The Del and our many onsite activities and dining venues.

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