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TV Show Locations You Can Visit in California

TV Show Locations You Can Visit in California

From “The Office” to “Sons of Anarchy” to “Yellowjackets,” the Golden State provides the perfect setting for countless small-screen favorites

What makes enjoying a great show even better? Being able to visit the real-world settings that inspire the stories we watch on TV.

No state offers more opportunities to do just that than California, where the wide range of environments has led to countless TV series calling it home–even when their stories are set miles (or even worlds) away. Anyone interested in a bit of TV tourism will find plenty of destinations to visit in California, spanning the entire state and nearly every genre, from police procedurals and murder mysteries to sitcoms and reality shows.

While all 12 travel regions of the state are represented here, it’s worth noting that this roundup is not comprehensive and is strictly a starting point for small-screen superfans.

Shasta Cascade

Shows: Rescue 911; Modern Family; Lethal Weapon

While there are plenty of high-profile movies with iconic scenes filmed in California’s forested northern region (including the train scene in Stand By Me), Shasta Cascade has hosted a few prominent TV shows too.

Along with multiple episodes of Rescue 911 shot in Shasta, Siskiyou, and Trinity counties, the Shasta County Administration Center in Redding served as the exterior of the shopping center Manny and Gloria visit in the Modern Family episode “Pig Moon Rising.” The Shasta County Jail in Redding also doubles for the exterior of the Los Angeles County jail featured in an episode of the Lethal Weapon TV series.

TV Show Locations You Can Visit in California

North Coast

Shows: Murder, She Wrote; The Craftsman

In the appropriately quaint town of Mendocino sits Blair House Inn, the bed-and-breakfast that served as the exterior image of the home of Angela Lansbury’s Murder, She Wrote sleuth J.B. Fletcher in the long-running series. Mendocino County is a long way from Maine, where the show was set, but fans can stay in one of the inn’s three character-themed rooms while visiting the North Coast.

If you’re more of a DIYer than a murder-mystery aficionado, you’ll find plenty to look out for around Eureka, with Magnolia Network fixer-upper series The Craftsman filmed entirely in and around the Humboldt County city. All of the mansions restored by the show’s titular craftsman Eric Hollenbeck and his Blue Ox Millworks can be found throughout Eureka and the surrounding region.

San Francisco Bay Area

Shows: Full House; Fuller House; Monk, Nash Bridges, Looking, Sense8, The OA, 13 Reasons Why

One of the most recognizable TV homes of all time, the Tanner (and later, Tanner-Fuller) family home from Full House (and recent revival series Fuller House) is a very real place—from the outside, at least. Located at 1709 Broderick Street in San Francisco, the house and the rest of the street’s colorful “Painted Ladies” have appeared in a long list of shows along with the nearby Alamo Square Park, which also appears in the opening credits for Full House.

Although much of Monk is shot in Los Angeles, the popular series is set in San Francisco through the use of establishing shots featuring local landmarks, from historic cable cars to the exterior of his apartment at 999 Broadway, in Nob Hill. Even more rooted in the city, however, was Nash Bridges, the six-season procedural series produced and filmed on location in San Francisco. A 2021 made-for-TV Nash Bridges movie returned to the city, filming key scenes at Fisherman’s Wharf, the Embarcadero/Financial District, and other neighborhoods.

More recent series like Looking, Sense8, and The OA also feature plenty of scenes shot in and around San Francisco, particularly in the LGBTQ+ hot spot of the Castro District, bustling Chinatown, and at City Lights Bookstore. Leaving San Francisco proper, Analy High School in Sebastopol served as the filming location for all of the high school scenes in the popular Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.

TV Show Locations You Can Visit in California

Gold Country

Shows: The Mentalist; Baywatch

Quirky crime procedural The Mentalist featured its Sacramento setting quite prominently, despite being largely filmed in Los Angeles. Fans of the series shouldn’t have any trouble recognizing the California State Capitol building, as well as downtown Sacramento, Tower Bridge, and the Sacramento River from the establishing shots used in the popular series.

Outside the city, Baywatch left the beach in 1992 for the two-part adventure “River of No Return,” in which lifeguard Mitch (David Hasselhoff) and his team looked for a hidden gold cache and rafted on the South Fork American River in El Dorado County. It’s an experience you can replicate, sans TV drama, exactly where it was filmed. The location is a popular one for filmmakers looking for a “raging rapids” environment, with films like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom also shooting memorable scenes in the same area.

High Sierra

Shows: Yellowjackets; Firefly; Lone Ranger; Star Trek: Voyager

When Showtime’s hit series Yellowjackets needed a location to replicate the remote Canadian wilderness, it brought the entire production to the top of Mammoth Mountain in Mammoth Lakes to film the show’s terrifying premiere episode. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about cannibal teenagers on a visit to the High Sierra region, which is a popular year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Alabama Hills in Inyo County are one of Hollywood’s favorite shooting locations when they need a rugged desert environment, and have been used as the backdrop for countless Westerns and even a few sci-fi series and films. From familiar locations seen in films like Django Unchained and Tremors to iconic shots from episodes of The Lone Ranger and sci-fi series Firefly and Star Trek: Voyager, the craggy, dry region offers a genre-spanning trip through film and TV history.

Central Valley

Shows: Fresno, Sons of Anarchy

The broad swath of California running down the middle of the state is better known for its rich farmland and importance to country music's history than its TV presence, but various locations around the region have featured prominently in small-screen projects over the years. Lodi and Stockton both served as key settings in motorcycle drama Sons of Anarchy, for example, while Fresno served as the primary setting for a 1986 miniseries named after the city. A satire of popular soap operas of the time, Fresno cast Carol Burnett, Teri Garr, Charles Grodin, and Dabney Coleman as members of rival, grape-growing families, and filmed portions of its five-episode saga around the city.

Central Coast

Shows: Big Little Lies, Star Trek: Picard

The HBO series Big Little Lies delivered an impressive tour of Monterey County, from coffee shops and cafes around Fisherman’s Wharf to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where Shailene Woodley’s character is employed. While some of the businesses featured in the show are fictional, the little town of Pacific Grove and its Lovers Point Park are indeed real, and just as cozy as they’re portrayed.

Sci-fi spin-off series Star Trek: Picard picked up with Patrick Stewart’s iconic Starfleet admiral Jean-Luc Picard living on his family’s vineyard in the Bourgogne region of France, but the real Château Picard is actually Sunstone Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley. The French-influenced villa and its vineyards served as the visual stand-in for Picard’s family estate, and welcome both Star Trek fans and oenophiles alike for a visit and tasting.

Los Angeles County

Shows: Too many to count

By far the most frequent filming location for TV series and a frequent stand-in for shows set elsewhere around the state, country, and even the world, Los Angeles County offers a little bit of everything for television tourists.

A long list of recent, popular series have filmed all over L.A., such as Modern Family, Dead To Me, Scandal, You, Euphoria, and The Big Bang Theory, to name just a few. Despite being set in Orange County’s Laguna Beach, for example, the dark comedy Dead To Me was filmed almost entirely in L.A., with the exterior of main character Jen’s home filmed on Deervale Drive in the San Fernando Valley. The campus of the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) in Pasadena is the setting for much of the characters’ antics in The Big Bang Theory, while the exterior of Olivia Pope’s office in Scandal is actually an upper floor of the Palace Theatre in Los Angeles, not a building in Washington, D.C.

L.A. County landmarks also pop up in some surprising places, with Pasadena City Hall serving as the exterior of Pawnee City Hall from Parks and Recreation, and the iconic Burbank restaurant Smoke House standing in for the Niagara Falls banquet hall where Jim and Pam have their wedding rehearsal dinner in the sixth season of The Office. Fans of The Office might also recognize Larry’s Chili Dog stand in Burbank from an episode that had Michael (Steve Carell) get into a fight with the stand’s owner while wandering through downtown Scranton.

Also north of L.A., Santa Clarita was the primary filming location for the appropriately titled series Santa Clarita Diet, as well as Mayans M.C., procedurals N.C.I.S. and S.W.A.T., and other shows. The main characters’ home in Santa Clarita Diet is a real house on Weeping Willow Drive, for example, while the clubhouse for the Mayans motorcycle club was built in a parking lot near Santa Clarita Studios. Many of the local businesses appearing in Mayans can also be found around downtown Santa Clarita.

In the South Bay, the city of Torrance hosts what might be Hollywood’s favorite school for filming: Torrance High School. The school has played West Beverly High School in Beverly Hills, 90210; Sunnydale High School in Buffy the Vampire Slayer; and Ulysses S. Grant High School in The Secret Life of the American Teenager, among others. A few miles south, fans of HBO’s vampire drama True Blood can drop by Alex’s Bar in Long Beach to check out the real-world location used for the interior of Fangtasia, a seedy bar that catered to bloodsuckers in the show.

Orange County

Shows: Star Trek: Picard, Roadies, Gilligan’s Island, The OC

Star Trek fans know Starfleet headquarters is supposed to be in San Francisco, but it was the Anaheim Convention Center that served as the photo double for the fictional sci-fi landmark in Star Trek: Picard. The convention center also featured prominently in Showtime’s Roadies series as one of the Orange County venues where the show’s fictional band plays.

Newport Beach is famous for serving as the original point of departure for the S.S. Minnow in Gilligan’s Island, and although much of The O.C. was actually filmed in Los Angeles, there are some key locations from the show that you can visit in the real O.C., such as Balboa Fun Zone and Fashion Island mall.

Inland Empire

Show: The Old Man

Idyllwild is nestled a mile high in the San Jacinto Mountains, but the Riverside County community played a key role in the FX series The Old Man, which featured Jeff Bridges playing a former CIA operative. Establishing shots for the series were filmed in 2019 in the center of town, with many local businesses featured prominently in scenes set in Idyllwild.


Show: The Bachelorette

The long-running ABC series The Bachelorette chose La Quinta in the Coachella Valley to host its midseason change-of-setting in 2020’s season 16. In search of a romantic getaway, the show filmed at La Quinta Resort and Club, a luxury resort located near the beautiful Santa Rosa mountains.

San Diego County

Shows: Veronica Mars, Terriers, Animal Kingdom

Although Veronica Mars was set in the fictional California town of Neptune, it doesn’t take a brilliant teenage detective to find evidence that it was really San Diego the whole time. Local communities like Ocean Beach and the former Qualcomm Stadium (now demolished) featured prominently in the show, along with Oceanside High School and local businesses like Lestat's Coffee House, where Mars Investigations was based in the series.

Neo-noir crime series Terriers also called San Diego County home, both in setting and through myriad filming locations. The Del Mar Fairgrounds play a key role in the series, as well as locations throughout Ocean Beach and North Park.

Most recently, the TNT series Animal Kingdom wrapped up its six-season run that was filmed largely in and around Oceanside, with the frequent use of familiar landmarks like The Strand and local restaurants and surf shops maintaining the series’ local connections.

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