Explore Pasadena's Plentiful Film Locations

"Back to the Future," "Rumor Has It," and "Father of the Bride" are just three of the pictures that used the Crown City as a setting. A new location tour is just ahead.

What to Know

  • Pasadena movie location tour
  • Due in late summer 2018
  • My Valley Pass is behind the new tour

It's true: We live in a tip-of-the-tongue type of town, and when we say "town" we do actually mean all of Southern California.

And when say "tip-of-the-tongue type of town," we simply mean that there are hundreds of structures around Southern California boasting cinematic cred. It's no surprise, then, that driving past a local building can easily put a movie title on the tip of your tongue.

Pasadena, of all of our region's cities, might just win the crown for the tip-of-the-tongue-iest town around, but then, it is called the Crown City.

It's a regal nickname that references the Rose Bowl, which spotlights Pasadena's long history, which is a big clue as to why filmmakers love composing stunning shots around the rose-tastic, arroyo-close, historic-home-y destination.

You can probably name several film favorites made in the area, from "Back to the Future," (hello, Gamble House and Blacker House) to "Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3" and "Saving Mr. Banks" (hi there, The Langham Huntington, Pasadena, which has served as an elegant location for oodles of flicks).

But how to find a sizable swath of such cinematic settings?

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The internet will tell a research-oriented film fan a lot, but a better bet? Joining tour focused solely on the stately city's celluloid past and present.

Such a tour is in the making, and it will flower, like a prize rose, by the end of the summer of 2018. My Valley Pass, the people behind some of the San Fernando Valley's most iconic sights, signs, and cinematic spots, will be behind the info-packed rides, with location-loving smartie Jared Cowan wielding the mic at the front of the bus.

There are fonts of film location history, but Mr. Cowan can out-font them all, delivering, as he ably does, anecdote after charming anecdote about the hundreds of TV shows and movies that have used Pasadena as a setting.

Bruce Wayne's opulent manor from "Batman," the television series?

Your tour host knows all about it, as well as structures seen in "Father of the Bride," "Step Brothers," "Cruel Intentions," "Legally Blonde," "Newsies," "Rumor Has It," Beyoncé's "Formation" video, "La La Land," "Benson," "Twins," "Mad Men," "The Holiday," "Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull," "Bowfinger," "That Thing You Do!," and "Parks & Rec."

Just, as they say, to name a few.

It's a lively journey through some of Pasadena's most storied neighborhoods, and its business section, too, where City Hall, All Saints Episcopal Church, and the atmospheric alleys of Old Pasadena all receive colorful consideration.

Surely you know 1973's "The Sting" filmed in Smith Alley. Surely. But if you didn't, prepare to visit the actual alley and spy photos from the filming, for comparison. 

Whatever your level of Pasadena-based obsessed-a-tude is, and however well you know your movie location history, you'll likely leave the bus with more locations, more stories, more actors, and more reel magic swirling through your cinema-loving head.

Stay tuned, don't touch that dial, and don't spend too long running to the concession stand for popcorn, for more information is due to be out about SoCal's newest movie location tour soon. 

Best keep your eyes peeled on My Valley Pass, and, while you're awaiting the Pasadena Movie Tour launch, perhaps jump on a delightful drive-around that's all about the San Fernando Valley's film-making mojo.

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