Discover Story Ideas Details Back To Story Ideas

Award Season Comes To Life in California

Feb. 27, 2019

Home to innovation and creative minds, California has been the inspiration for people’s favourite songs, movies, television series and novels. Stroll through the sets of “Jurassic Park” and “Bird Box” in the state’s redwoods forests, take a glimpse into the brilliant mind of Jack London in his historic museum or see where award-winning artists like Andy Grammer began their music careers. In the midst of award season, we have rounded up must-visit destinations that inspired works we all love.

Step into Your Favourite Movie or TV Series

  • Visit Mendocino, California and it will feel like you’ve just arrived in the fictional town of Cabot Cove, the setting of the popular television series, “Murder She Wrote,” starring Angela Lansbury. Fans of the series will recognise the neighbourhoods and the Victorian bed and breakfast in Mendocino that was featured as Jessica Fletcher's home.
  • Cult fans of “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” will recognise The Cabazon Dinosaurs located just west of Greater Palm Springs. Dinny the Dinosaur who is 150 feet long and Mr. Rex who is 65 feet tall are visible from the freeway to travellers passing by on Southern California’s Interstate 10.
  • Riverside County is home to the Mission Inn, which has appeared in many films throughout the years. Featured in Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Man in the Iron Mask” and Anthony Hopkins’ “Nixon,” this hotel makes visitors and guests feel like they’re on a movie set.
  • The dramatic high desert landscape of Mono County has drawn the arts and entertainment industries for decades. Mammoth Lakes’ dramatic skyline has replaced Tibet, Nepal, Switzerland, Austria, Alaska and the Rockies in films like “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “Ride the High Country.”
  • Santa Cruz was in the spotlight this holiday season, serving as the backdrop for the Netflix original movie, “Bird Box,” with many scenes filmed at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. This post-apocalyptic thriller, starring Sandra Bullock, was viewed by 45 million Netflix members the first week it came out, making this movie a viral sensation.
  • Los Angeles is the centre for filming, with countless movies and TV shows filmed throughout the city. Griffith Observatory, in the heart of the city, has served as the backdrop for many films, including “La La Land” starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.


    Stroll Down Memory Lane with These Destinations

  • Anaheim is the ultimate nostalgic destination for travellers looking to relive a piece of their childhood. Between Disneyland Park showcasing all the best of Disney to California Adventure representing Marvel and Pixar, the whole family will be immersed in movie history.
  • Before Hollywood, Santa Barbara was the hub of California's film industry and has inspired countless shows and movies like the Oscar-winning film “Sideways.” The cult-classic road trip movie made a star of Santa Barbara County wine country, which is now home to more than 220 wineries. Take the same path forged by Miles and Jack and stop at the new Hitching Post Wines tasting room that is next to the landmark restaurant featured in the film.
  • For many years, the historic collection of vessels on display at Maritime Museum of San Diego have been the set and story line for film and television producers. The museum includes artefacts that were central to award-winning movies like the steam ferryboat Berkeley which was featured in the movie “Pal Joey” (1957) and the HMS Surprise frigate which was centre stage in the filming of “Master and Commander” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”


    Take a Glimpse into the Mind of Your Favourite Authors

  • Visitors to Sonoma County can dive deep into the extraordinary accomplishments of author Jack London at the reimagined museum inside his home, the House of Happy Walls. The 22 new exhibits highlight London’s legacy, spanning his literary career and the moving story of love and partnership with his wife Charmian.
  • California’s Central Coast has long been an escape for the literary set and visitors can experience the places between the pages at the Henry Miller Library. Henry Miller’s writing explored and influenced American culture and politics in the mid-20th century and the library in Monterey celebrates the author’s literary, artistic and cultural contributions.
  • William Saroyan, an award-winning Depression-era author, Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award winner, was born and raised in Fresno, California. His home is now a museum open to the public that features Saroyan’s art, photographs, music and other memorabilia. In one of the rooms, guests are welcomed by a holographic image of Saroyan.


    Listen to Your Favourite Songs Where They Were Inspired

  • Santa Monica has always been a playground for the entertainment industry and a popular residence for musicians. One musician who got his start in Santa Monica is Andy Grammer, the multi-platinum singer and songwriter, who began his career as a street performer on the world-famous Third Street Promenade.
  • Dean Torrence is one half of the popular 1960s surf music duo Jan & Dean, who were pioneers of the surf music genre and surf culture as a whole. Dean co-authored the song “Surf City” that was the first surf song to hit number one on the charts. In the early 1990s, Dean championed the idea to brand his hometown, Huntington Beach, with the “Surf City” name because it had stayed true to its beach town roots.
  • Jazz lovers have a special affinity for Concord – after all, it’s home to Concord’s Jazz Festival which began in 1969 and beloved musician Dave Brubeck, the legendary jazz pianist and composer. Brubeck played as a child in Todos Santos Park and as an adult at the Concord Pavilion. Visitors can listen to their favourite jazz tunes while they relax on the grass at Dave Brubeck Park.
  • Experience the venues behind award-winning artists Lady Gaga and Lady Antebellum’s music videos in San Luis Obispo. Lady Gaga’s music video U.Y. was filmed at Hearst Castle and Lady Antebellum released the “Heart Break Hotel” album with a music video set at the celebrity favourite Central Coast hotel, the Madonna Inn.


For more insight into California’s incredible entertainment industry and how you can experience it firsthand, check out