The OC was an iconic teen drama that aired on television from 2003 to 2007. While the story took place in Newport Beach, California the show never filmed scenes there. I discussed the impact of the show, filming locations, fashion, and meeting cast members with my friend Esther Lane Montes. You can listen to our conversation on the LA Dreaming Podcast but for this blog post, we will focus on filming locations from The OC that fans should visit.
You can follow our guest Esther on Instagram.
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If you are a big fan of The OC I highly recommend listening to The OC podcast with Melinda Clarke (Julie Cooper) and Rachel Bilson (Summer Roberts). They share so many fun behind the scene stories and recap every episode of the show. They often have great guest stars but I also enjoy the episodes that just have the two of them.
One thing that they mentioned during an episode is that certain members of the cast went to the city of Newport Beach and were given keys to the city. They also put their hands in cement. Those have been moved around and more recently were located at the Newport Dunes office. I reached out to them and they are no longer there. So far I have been unable to locate their new location but I would love to see them in person.
I remember visiting California after I got into the show and went to Newport Beach. When I got there I didn’t recognize the pier and realized that they did not actually film in Newport. Of course, now I understand that shows don’t film outside of LA county too often for a number of reasons. Many areas of LA portray Newport, Chino, and other areas that they “visit” in the show. From what I have been able to discover they only filmed outside of LA county a handful of times.
A visit to Newport Beach is absolutely worth your time as it is a beautiful city with fun things to do. There are places that they mention in the show like Fashion Island, South Coast Plaza, and the Crab Cooker. These are all real locations that you can visit but the real locations were never shown on the show. You can also stop by Balboa Island and try a Balboa Bar. You might remember in Season One Ryan and Theresa have Balboa bars. Local legend claims that Balboa was the birthplace of frozen bananas and the Balboa Bar which is ice cream dipped in chocolate.
However, if you’re goal is to visit filming locations from The OC there are several places outside of Newport that you’ll want to visit. My favorite filming location from The OC is Wayfarers Chapel. This beautiful glass chapel is shown in both Season One and Season Two. I had a feeling from the first time I saw the chapel that it would become my dream wedding venue. I had no idea that my dream would eventually come true. I have another blog post that you can check out recapping my Wayfarers Chapel Wedding Experience.
Wayfarers Chapel was designed by Llyod Wright. It opened in 1951 and has been a popular destination for travelers and filmmakers alike. The church is located near the ocean in Rancho Palos Verdes. The address for Wayfarers Chapel is 5755 Palos Verdes Drive South Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. There is free parking available at the entrance. There is a visitor center and of course the church itself. The overall area is rather small so a visit won’t take too much time but this is absolutely worth visiting.
Warner Grand Theatre
The Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro is the movie theatre where the core four go to in Season One right before finding Julie and Luke together. This stunning and historic movie palace has also been used for other productions like Pearl Harbor. The theatre hosts special events throughout the year but does not currently operate as a regular movie theatre. Seeing a movie here for a special event is on my LA bucket list. It was built in 1931 and is the last California location for a Warner Bros movie theatre.
The Lifeguard Tower
Before The OC I never cared about trying to sit on a lifeguard tower, but this show really made it seem cool. While the show mainly used one that the built on set the blogger of Seeing Stars has shared GPS coordinates for lifeguard tower 49 which was used on the show. The lifeguard tower is located at Dockweiler Beach near LAX. The GPS coordinates are 33.940724, -118.442064.
Redondo Beach Pier
The Redondo Beach Pier plays the Newport Pier on the show. It is one of my favorite piers because it has so much to offer. I also love the sails along the railing that are so easy to recognize from the show. The pier is featured throughout the show as a hangout/meeting place and was also home to the bait shop, the diner, and more. The Redondo Beach Coffee Shop, still on the pier, played the diner on the show. The coffee shop has some photos of the cast of The OC on the wall. The exterior of the coffee shop is now a bright blue but fans say the inside still looks the same.