Seeing Stars: San Diego in the Movies

Anchorman - Panda Watch
Anchor Man - Movies Filmed in San Diego

Anchorman – Just one of the movies filmed in San Diego

As everyone’s eyes are on Hollywood this weekend for the Academy Awards, why not live the movies you love and explore some of San Diego’s famous locales. Everyone knows that Ron Burgundy calls San Diego his home, but the Anchorman isn’t the only famous face to film in San Diego:


Years before he was jumping on Oprah Winfrey’s white couch, Tom Cruise and his Hollywood good looks made movie history as Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in the 1986 action-packed classic, Top Gun (1986). Inspired by a magazine article that highlighted the TOPGUN fighter pilots at the Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego, the self-nicknamed “Fightertown USA,” movie producers were intrigued by the fast-paced Navy pilot lifestyle in a laid-back Southern California beach town and set up shop in San Diego to film the blockbuster hit.

Hotel del Coronado

Since 1888, the Hotel del Coronado has attracted numerous world dignitaries, Hollywood stars and the discriminating affluent with its unique red peaked roofs, stunning Victorian architecture and serene ocean vistas. But perhaps is most important role was its casting as the backdrop for the wildly popular film, Some Like it Hot (1959), featuring Marilyn Monroe,Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

Balboa Park

Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the United Sates with 15 museums, a Tony-award winning theatre, numerous gardens and much more. It has been nicknamed “The Smithsonian of the West” but it may be better known for its appearances in a number of movies, including Citizen Cane (1941), where the Spanish Colonial buildings served as Charles Kane’s (Orson Welles) mansion “Xanadu,” the appearance of the Museum of Man’s California Bell Tower in the film Almost Famous (2000), and the historic Organ Pavilion that was used to stage an explosion during the film Top Dog (1995), starring Chuck Norris.

Downtown San Diego

Downtown San Diego is ever evolving as new hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and retail shops open each year. A perfect location for shopping and dining by day, and the “hottest” destination by night. Who knew the downtown area would live up to its reputation when a controlled car explosion stunt took place in the middle of the downtown streets during the filming of Traffic (2000) starring Catherine Zeta Jones, Michael Douglas, and Benicio Del Toro; public safety agencies were present to make sure nothing got out of hand.

San Diego’s East County

In San Diego’s East County, a rugged landscape surrounds historic highways and provides scenic backdrops for colorful desert wildflowers and numerous outdoor recreational opportunities, but the deserted area has also starred in a handful of films. East County’s beautiful Anza-Borrego Desert State Park was featured in Into The Wild (2007) during a scene that took place while Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch) road tripped to Alaska. Borrego Springs doubled as Mesopotamia 3000 B.C. in the Scorpion King (2007) and was also where the popular Sci-Fi TV series, The X-Files, came to an end during the filming of the series finale at the recreated Anazazi Village.

Ocean Beach

With perpetual sun, swaying palms and sparkling surf, the funky neighborhood of Ocean Beach, is the epitome of Southern California beach culture. Producers of Almost Famous (2000) thought this beach town’s 1970s hippie attitude was the perfect location to film. Many locals wore their normal clothes and used their own vehicles as extras in the movie.

Don’t forget: Anchorman 2 hits movie theaters later this year! Stay classy, San Diego.


13 Reasons to Visit San Diego in 2013

San Diego Surfboards at Sunset
A San Diego sunset is only one of the reasons to visit in 2013. Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona.

A San Diego sunset is only one of the reasons to visit in 2013. Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona.

Thank goodness we’ve all survived the “end” of the Mayan calendar, because 2013 is shaping up to be a spectacular year to visit San Diego. From a new SeaWorld-branded waterpark to the return of Ron Burgundy, read on to discover all 13 reasons to visit San Diego in 2013.

1. Top 10 for Almost Everything!

San Diego ranked sixth overall in online “America’s Favorite Cities of 2012” survey by Travel + Leisure Magazine. Besides placing in the top 10 of America’s best cities, San Diego took several number one spots, including number one best city for 4th of July, Spring Break and Valentine’s Day.

2. Aquatica San Diego

In spring 2013, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment will open Aquatica San Diego, a SeaWorld-branded waterpark, located in San Diego’s Chula Vista neighborhood. Aquatica San Diego will combine waterpark thrills with marine park habitats, allowing guests to interact with animals like dolphins, stingrays and flamingos as they zip down fun-filled water slides.


Opening April 5, 2013, treat your family to the ultimate LEGO® experience at the all-new LEGOLAND Hotel at LEGOLAND® California Resort. From the moment you arrive at the dragon-guarded entrance, you’ll be delighted by interactive LEGO features, themed play areas, family pool and kid’s entertainment!

4. Australian Outback

In May 2013, the San Diego Zoo will be opening the Australian Outback exhibit, slated to be the best koala exhibit and care center beyond Australia’s borders. For the past 30 years, the San Diego Zoo has the largest colony of koalas and the most koala births – 123 joeys! – outside Australia.

5. Jungle Ropes Safari

In summer 2012, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park unveiled a new aerial adventure, Jungle Ropes Safari. Guests can climb and swing through three ropes courses offering more than 30 challenging elements such as rope bridges, ladders and moving platforms.

6. Multi-lingual Tour of the USS Midway

In 2013, the USS Midway Museum will add additional languages to their self-guided audio tour to meet the needs of increasing international visitors to the museum. The audio tour, narrated by former Midway sailors and included with every admission, will now be available in English, Spanish, Japanese, French, German and Mandarin Chinese.

7. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Celebration

From March 7-10, 2013, the Coronado Cultural Arts Commission presents an island-wide celebration of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum who wrote several Oz books in Coronado. Festivities include complimentary advance screening of Disney’s new film, Oz the Great & Powerful on March 7 at Coronado’s Village Theatre among other island activities.

8. Chocolate Exhibition

Now through March 10, 2013, the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park is presenting the traveling exhibition Chocolate, where visitors can explore the origins of chocolate consumption and discover how chocolate was transformed from a bitter drink of kings into the indulgence we love today.

9. Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

From February 1 – December 31, 2013, test the boundaries of your reality as Ripley’s Believe It or Not! takes residence at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

10. Desert Wildflowers

Each spring, the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park turns into a wonderland of color when wildflowers, nourished by winter rains, burst into bloom. The exact timing of the blossoms varies year-to-year based on precipitation patterns, but 2013 is bound to be beautiful!

11. New Downtown San Diego Eateries

New restaurants in downtown supply more ways to satisfy the diverse traveler, whether craving south-of-the-border fusion at The Blind Burro, American fare with a twist at Chaplos, or phenomenal seafood at Spike Africa’s Fresh Fish Grill & Bar.

12. San Diego’s Only All San Diego Craft Beer Bar

Scheduled to open Spring of 2013, the San Diego Brew Project will highlight San Diego’s love and pride of local craft beer and become the first all-local craft beer bar with 28 taps pouring everything from major juggernauts such as Ballast Point and Stone to the newer, but no less delicious, players in the game.

13. The Legend Continues

On December 20, 2013, Ron Burgundy returns when Anchorman: The Legend Continues opens nationwide, but there is no better place to see it than in San Diego. Stay Classy, 2013.