Culture

Here’s How to Tour San Francisco, Movie Scene by Movie Scene

If you had a dollar for every time the Golden Gate Bridge appeared on the big screen, you’d have enough in the kitty to cover your airfares to the bayside city. Hollywood loves San Francisco. Even when you put the bridge (arguably the biggest San Franciscan movie star) aside, there are still a heap more spots – some iconic, some lesser known – that feature in San Francisco movies.

Movies like The Princess DiariesThe Pursuit of Happyness, and Dirty Harry were all set in San Francisco, and you can tour the city finding out exactly where certain scenes were filmed. Get onto Google Maps, punch in these addresses, and sightsee San Francisco according to the silver screen.

Image: Francisco Delgado / Unsplash

Alamo Square

Chances are, you were going to head to Alamo Square, regardless of whether or not you knew it was a movie star. It’s the site of the famed painted ladies.

While you’re there checking the ladies out (of the painted home variety), spin around and have a look at the park itself. Seem familiar? That’s because you’ve seen it before every episode of Full House.

The opening credits of the classic TV show are filmed all around San Francisco (you’ll recognise the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Lombard Street too), but Alamo Square park gets the most air time.

If you paid attention in the 5 Year Engagement, you would also recognise the park as where Tom (Jason Segal) and Violet (Emily Blunt) staged their multiple-choice wedding.

Outside of its big-screen fame, Alamo Square park is actually a really nice park to just hang out in. You’ve got the view of the painted ladies, a view further afield to the business district (and the super cool pyramid building), and plenty of doggos for you to pet. Make a day of your park visit, and bring a picnic and a ball up with you.

 

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555 California Street

Standing in front of the old Bank of America building at 555 California Street, it looks like, well, the old Bank of America building. But, rack your movie-buff brain, and you’ll realise this is where Chris Gardner (Will Smith) took his first ever stockbroking job. It’s the Dean Witter Reynolds Building, in The Pursuit of Happyness.

Before The Pursuit of Happyness, 555 California Street had a starring role in the 1972 film, Dirty Harry, as the building that Scorpio sat on as he was sniping.

It doesn’t take long to run the movie scenes over in your mind, so while you’re in the neighbourhood, head around the corner to check out the architectural masterpiece that is the pyramid shaped Transamerica building. If you’re feeling peckish, pop in to Homegrown around the corner, for the best spicy braised tofu salad (US$9.95 / AU$15) you’ve ever had.

 

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San Francisco City Hall

City Hall has is second only to the Golden Gate Bridge in its tally of starring movie roles. Dirty Harry, Towering Inferno, and Raiders of the Lost Ark were all filmed, in part, at San Francisco’s City Hall. It’s also featured in The Wedding Planner – when Steve (Matthew McConaughey) rushes to stop Mary’s (Jennifer Lopez) wedding – and a CGI version of the hall is destroyed in Dawn of the Planet Apes.

We told you it was up there with the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

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Even without its fame from starring roles, City Hall is super popular San Franciscan landmark. Head inside to marvel at the incredible arrival hall and staircase, and you might even catch a wedding or two happening up on the first landing. It’s not just something they act out in the movies.

 

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2601 Lyon Street

Funnily enough, Princess Mia’s Grove High School in The Princess Diaries isn’t a school at all. It’s actually the house that sits on the corner of Lyon St and Green St in Cow Hollow. You’ll spot it in an instant, with its iconic grand garden and arching staircases either side. Being a residential home, we’d suggest not getting too full on with the re-enactments, and keeping your trespassing to a happy minimum of none.

The Grove High School happens to be right by the Presidio neighbourhood, which is known for its hiking trails, the Walt Disney Family Museum, and the Letterman Digital Arts Centre (the home of Lucasfilm).

2640 Steiner Street

Possibly one of the best, and most loved, movie stops in all of San Francisco is 2640 Steiner Street. If the address doesn’t sound familiar, go back and watch Mrs Doubtfire again. It’s the address Miranda Hillard (Sally Field) gives out to prospective nanny, Mrs Doubtfire (Robin Williams). And, yes, it’s the real address of the house that they used to film the interior scenes of Mrs Doubtfire. You can’t imagine the dramas that caused once the film was released…

These days, the home looks a little different to the film. There are no goat-eaten begonias or farm animals out the front, but there’s no mistaking the Hillard family home.

After having a stickybeak at the house, head down Broadway towards Van Ness Avenue, where you can grab a coffee, a bite to eat, or blow some cash on a new outfit.

(Lead image: Mrs Doubtfire / 20th Century Fox)