san diego sunset

Cinematic cities like Chicago, Los Angeles New York and San Francisco are familiar to moviegoers around the world.
But if you’re a movie buff making your way around the world’s most famous filming hotspots, overlook San Diego at your peril, because this cool city on California’s Pacific Coast plays a starring role in some of the silver screen’s most memorable moments.

With that in mind, here are five fantastic movies set or shot in San Diego.

1. Anchorman

San Diego was the setting for much of the original Anchorman movie released in 2004 as well as its side-splitting 2013 sequel – so the City in Motion is directly responsible for spawning the legend that is Ron Burgundy.
In terms of filming locations, San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park are worth a look, but for an immersive experience, visiting SeaWorld San Diego is always amazingly good fun.

2. Some Like It Hot

This 1958 cross-dressing comedy/crime caper starred the late, great Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis.
And many of its helter-skelter scenes were filmed in Hotel Del Coronado and Coronado Municipal Beach, which you can still visit to this day.

3. Freaky Friday

A young Jodi Foster starred in this 1976 Disney comedy about a mother and daughter who mysteriously swap personalities and it’s still a family favorite which is regularly repeated on TV screens around the world.

Waterskiing with the Convair Club at Mission Bay will allow you to recreate the movie’s dramatic finale and enjoy an exhilarating activity to boot.

4. Citizen Kane

This 1941 masterpiece based on the life of enigmatic media mogul William Randolph Hearst was directed by and starred Orson Welles and is still regarded by some movie experts as the greatest film of all time.

San Diego landmarks included in the final cut include the El Cid statue, the Prado and the Museum of Art.

5. Top Gun

No one who hasn’t seen this 1986 blockbuster can claim to be a true child of the 80s.

And San Diego features heavily in this fighter pilot saga starring Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis – the iconic motorbike scene was shot at the West Laurel Street and Union Street intersection and several memorable (and musical) bar scenes unfolded at the Kansas City Barbecue.

Hopefully, these five fantastic movies set or shot in San Diego have convinced you that there’s more than one movie town in California worth visiting for cinephiles!

Getting there

You’ll find flights to and from San Diego from anywhere in the US and beyond on comparison site
San Diego Airport is well appointed with shops and restaurants and is easy to navigate, while cheap and secure SAN parking can be found on, but book early for the best deals.