Hollywood may be Tinseltown, the state boasts plenty of familiar cinematic locations outside the fabled movie back lots. Check out these scene-stealers.
Crescent City. Hike among the giant trees of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park , stand-in for the forested moon of Endor in 1983’s Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Nearby Prairie Creek Redwood State Park was the scene of dinosaur mayhem in 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park. INFO 707/464-6101; nps.gov/redw
Bodega Bay (323mi/520km; 6 hrs 20 mins). This idyllic fishing town was the scene of winged horror in Hitchcock’s 1963 masterpiece, The Birds. Appearing in several scenes, the 150-year-old Potter School (5 miles south of the town of Bodega), still stands. INFO 707/875-3866; bodegabay.com
Petaluma (27mi/44 km; 44 min). This low-key town had the All-American look George Lucas wanted for his breakout 1973 film, American Graffiti. Later, Francis Ford Coppola chose the iconic town to shoot 1986’s Peggy Sue Got Married. Take a self-guided walking tour of movie locations. INFO 707/769-0429; visitpetaluma.com
San Rafael (21mi/35km; 26 min). Marin County Civic Center , Frank Lloyd Wright’s mid-century marvel, starred as the futuristic company headquarters in the 1997 sci-fi thriller Gattaca. INFO 415/499-6400; marincenter.org
San Francisco (19mi/30km; 32 min)) Head to Fort Point, under the Golden Gate Bridge , to see where Kim Novak took a dive in Hitchock’s 1958 thriller, Vertigo. Tour Alcatraz Island to learn about Robert Stroud, a.k.a. Birdman of Alcatraz. INFO 415/391-2000; onlyinsanfrancisco.com
Lake Tahoe (189mi/304km; 3 hrs 39 min). We wouldn’t recommend you pull a Meg Ryan and ride your bike hands-free along the twisting stretch of Hwy 89 as she did in 1998’s City of Angels, but you can certainly drive the ultra-scenic stretch mountain road as it follows the western side of this exquisite alpine lake. INFO: (530) 541-5255; visitinglaketahoe.com
Lone Pine (233mi/375km; 4 hrs 53 min). Continue south along the east side of the High Sierra to visit the eye-catching Alabama Hills, an oddly weathered band of russet earth and rock fronting Mt. Whitney; the rumpled mini-mountain-range has served as backdrop for movies ranging from 1939’s Gunga Din to 1990 Tremors, with Kevin Bacon fending off attacks from giant subterranean worms. Follow signed Movie Road to various film locations, and stop by the Beverly & Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History at 701 Main St. INFO (760) 876-4444; lonepinechamber.org
Click here for more California close-ups in dozens of movies.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Marin County Civic Center
Golden Gate Bridge
South Lake Tahoe