Well, La La Land got to be the Best Picture of the Year…for about 2 1/2 minutes!
Oh, well. Don’t get me wrong. We absolutely loved Moonlight. It’s Best Picture win was totally deserved. But we have to admit that, around here, we were pulling for La La Land, if only because it portrays our beloved L.A. in the best possible light — literally! The picture won Best Cinematography for the way it used some terrific LA locations and bathed them in sumptuous, glowing, awe-inspiring light!
Discover La La Land’s Locations
If seeing this movie made you want to visit some of the actual locations, first, Relocity can help you move to LA so that all of this awesomeness is right around the corner. Then, use the list below to help you find and visit the sites of your favorite scenes.
Of course, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, GO! It may have only been Best Picture for a couple of minutes, but it still won Best Director, Best Actress, Best Musical Score, Best Cinematography, and Best Production Design. Check it out, and see some of the reasons we love LA.
Here is the list:
The Century Freeway (see photo above)
Many people see the site of the opening scene of La La Land soon after they arrive in LA, as the freeway bridge is a major connector between the Century Freeway (the 105) which goes to the airport, and the 110 Freeway, which goes downtown. The bridge is extremely high, giving drivers a panoramic view of the entire LA region — that is, if they are not driving too fast! Trying to stop and take pictures on the bridge is, of course, unwise and illegal.
Cathy’s Corner Overlook in Griffith Park
The scene in which Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone first dance appears to be along a city street, but it was actually shot in a clearing in Griffith Park, the huge park in the middle of LA. Light posts and parked cars were brought in to make the area look like a neighborhood, but it is really only accessible to hikers.
To reach this magical spot, which locals call “Cathy’s Corner,” park where Observatory Drive meets the Vermont Canyon Road Tunnel. Hike up Mt. Hollywood Drive for 2.2 miles, bearing left until you reach the crest. Then take the left fork to find the clearing on your left.
Hermosa Beach Pier
This is the pier where Ryan Gosling sang “City of Stars” (the Academy Award-winning song) while dancing with an elderly couple. Hermosa Beach is in the “South Bay” area of LA, which means it is the southern part of the bay of Los Angeles, encompassing other cities like Manhattan Beach and the Palos Verdes peninsula.
It is a great spot so spend the day, perhaps beginning with brunch at a seaside cafe, followed by riding a bike along the bike path that extends through all the South Bay cities, and other beach activities. Stay until sunset and you can create your own Ryan Gosling moment! Then, have dinner at another La La Land location, the next entry below:
While in Hermosa Beach, try out the Lighthouse Cafe and hear live music in the same legendary location where Ryan Gosling “explained jazz” to Emma Stone. Located at 30 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach, the club is a former haunt of Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. The club is open to all kinds of music today, not just jazz. Find out more at http://www.thelighthousecafe.net/
Colorado Street Bridge, Pasadena
The lead couple are briefly seen strolling along this bridge in a video montage. It is a beautiful structure in Pasadena, crossing the “arroyo” (a canyon) that also contains the famous Rose Bowl. The bridge was the world’s highest concrete bridge when it was completed in 1913. Today it offers visitors fantastic views of the city and the landscape near Pasadena.
Once per year, the bridge is shut down for a street fair that is very popular because of the romantic setting. When driving into Pasadena on the 210 freeway, you will see the bridge on the right, next to the freeway. Exit at Orange Grove Blvd., turn around, and drive back across the old bridge. By the way, there are a huge number of great attractions in Pasadena to enjoy while you are there!
Griffith Park Observatory
This observatory, which you see on the left in the banner photo of our own Arrive page, was the site where Stone and Gosling waltz through the star-filled planetarium and beneath the rotunda mural. La La Land chose this location largely because the building was used famously in the classic movie “Rebel Without a Cause”, a clip of which is also seen in La La Land.
Later, the couple sits on a prop bench facing the landmark at the intersection of the Boy Scout Trail & Observatory Trail. The building’s 1935 retro-futuristic architecture is worth a visit, as well as the exhibits inside and fantastic hiking close-by. Find out more at http://www.griffithobservatory.org/ or simply go to 2800 E. Observatory Rd, Griffith Park. And when you move to LA, you can enjoy hiking and playing in Griffith Park to your heart’s content!
Angel’s Flight Railway
Ryan and Emma are seen riding this quaint downtown LA conveyance, one of the shortest railways in the world, which once allowed affluent Angelenos to commute from the downtown business district to their fine Victorian homes on Bunker Hill.
Although the funicular has been closed since 2013, filmmakers got permission to use it for one day of shooting. The railway dates back to 1901 and many are actively working to bring it back into public use. You can still see train from the outside, and while you’re there, visit the Grand Central Market (the next location below) which is just across the street!
Grand Central Market
The market only makes a brief appearance as the location for one of Mia and Sebastian’s first dates (they stop by Sarita’s Pupuseria for Salvadorean food), but it has long been a popular spot for Angelenos in the know.
The open-air market began as a casual venue for farmers and local ethnic cuisine (similar to large markets found in European or South American countries), but it has recently become more trendy, adding hip options like Eggslut and Ramen Hood. Enjoy strolling by the booths on the sawdust-strewn floor, sampling a huge variety of both prepared food and grocery items, while also marveling at a great collection of retro neon signs.
The SmokeHouse provides the cheery interior of jazz-hating J.K. Simmons’ L.A. supper club where Ryan Gosling plays yuletide tunes on the piano. In real life, the SmokeHouse has been across the street from Warner Bros. since 1948. (In the movie, the exterior of the club was actually shot miles away in Hollywood at the famous “You are the Star” mural at Hollywood Blvd. & Wilcox Ave.)
For more information about the Smokehouse, visit http://smokehouse1946.com/ Meanwhile, since the restaurant is so close the the Warner Bros. lot, think about combining a Smokehouse dinner with a VIP Tour of the studio, which was also a location in the movie, where Emma Stone worked at the coffee shop. The Warner Brothers tour is much more intimate and authentic than the more famous Universal Studios tour.
While touring Los Angeles, Mia and Sebastian stop at Watts Tower, a gigantic metal sculpture which took one Italian immigrant 33 years to build (1921 to 1954). Today the tower hosts events like the Day of the Drum Festival and the Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival.
For more information about moving to LA, check out our About section and we can make it possible for you to enjoy all these great La La Land locations permanently.