San Francisco is known for quite a lot of things, from the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the city’s recognizable hills and cable cars. It’s no wonder that San Francisco has served as the backdrop for literally hundreds of Hollywood blockbusters and television hits — it was even featured in the very first “talkie” ever made, The Jazz Singer in 1927. If you want to get a taste of Hollywood in San Francisco, here are the landmarks you need to include on your visit.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo
If you’re looking for one of the best views of the famous Golden Gate Bridge, look no further than Fort Point, all the way at the end of Marine Drive along the bay. Here, in Hitchcock’s 1958 classic Vertigo, Kim Novak jumped into the water and Jimmy Stewart saved her in a memorable scene. I definitely would not recommend re-enacting this scene, however, just go to enjoy the view.
The Western Addition’s Alamo Square Park is really popular with tourists — mostly just because it offers up such a great view and a nice park to relax in. The line of seven Victorian houses known as “the Painted Ladies” that line one side of the park will also be recognizable to fans of the TV show Full House, — the Tanner family enjoys a picnic here in the opening credits of the sitcom. You should know though that the house used as the front of the Tanner’s home isn’t one of the Painted Ladies — you’ll have to make your way to 1709 Broderick Street to find that one.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark
This impressive, gilded building in downtown San Francisco is a must-see even if you aren’t interested in its role in movies. For the film buff, though, it has appeared in films such as Milk and A View to a Kill. It also doubled as the U.S. Capitol building in Raiders of the Lost Arc, which is ironic since it is in fact one of the only domed buildings in the United States that is larger than the actual Capitol in Washington, D.C.
In the upscale Pacific Heights neighborhood, you can find the house that served as the Hillard home in the Robin Williams film Mrs. Doubtfire. Fun fact: in the movie, when Sally Field’s character, Miranda, is giving “Mrs. Doubtfire” her home address, she gives the actual address of the home: 2640 Steiner Street. The current owners of the house have a sense of humor about it though, as evidenced by the fact that their wireless Internet network is called “doubtfire.” You should also consider making this lovely neighborhood your home base by staying at the elegant Hotel Drisco.
The Princess Diaries
Located right off the Embarcadero near Pier 45 in Fisherman’s Wharf, the Musee Mecanique is a mechanical museum/old-time arcade filled with more than 300 coin-operated machines and games. It’s worth a visit on it’s own (especially since it’s free), but fans of The Princess Diaries, starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews, will also want to stop by. In the film, Mia (Hathaway) introduces Queen Clarice (Andrews) to corn dogs and photo booths at an arcade, and then convinces her to play an arm wrestling game — you can play that very same arm wrestling game here at the Musee Mecanique.
Bullitt with Steve McQueen
And, of course, no list of San Francisco movie sights would be complete without a mention of the city’s steep, sometimes-twisty streets. One of the most famous films to highlight these streets is the action flick Bullitt, a 1968 film starring Steve McQueen. The movie features one of the most famous car chases in cinematic history — a tire-screeching, rubber-burning chase that lasts nearly 11 minutes on-screen and features all corners of San Francisco.
And, just because I think this one is pretty cool, you should also check out the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, a WWII Liberty Ship currently docked at Fisherman’s Wharf near the Musee Mecanique. Built in just 56 days (yes, DAYS) in 1943, the Jeremiah O’Brien served in Normandy on D-Day, and then for months in the South Pacific. It is one of only two Liberty Ships still afloat in the world today. For movie fans, though, the draw of this ship lies not in its history. It was here, in cramped quarters in the 1990s, that James Cameron shot engine room shots for his epic Titanic film, and where George Lucas and his production team recorded ship sounds for the same movie.
What other movies do you think were filmed in San Francisco?
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