A Tour of San Diego's Famous Movie Sets

Photo:  ACG San Diego

We've made it to day four of #Blogtober! Whether you're visiting from out of town or wanting to explore your sunny hometown, San Diego is full of hidden entertainment secrets. Skip the zoo (although kids go free in October so maybe not?) and go on a tour of three hidden movie set gems around the city. 


Top Gun

Let's start with the one you probably already know about— the 1986 Tom Cruise classic "Top Gun." A military drama directed by Tony Scott, "Top Gun" was set on the Naval Airbase in Miramar, and filmed all over San Diego County. 

Kansas City Barbeque

600 W Harbor Dr
San Diego, CA 92101

Now famous for its "Top Gun" cameo, Kansas City Barbeque opened thirty years ago, and it was merely a case of "right place, right time" that led to it becoming the location of Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Goose's (Anthony Edwards) well-known Great Balls of Fire scene. Located right across from the Manchester Grand Hyatt, it's nestled neatly within the Gaslamp District and is self-named the "Top Gun Bar." Grab some grub and re-live Cruise's glory days, 11am-2am, 7 days a week.  

Charlie's House

102 Pacific St, Oceanside, CA

A truly hidden gem, this seaside cottage in Oceanside (adjacent to the pier) is where Kelly McGillis' Charlie lives, and where Maverick arrives during sunset for their date (which he's late for, unsurprisingly). It's idyllic, romantic, and tender... Originally built in 1887, the cottage is now boarded up and surrounded by a fence to deter vandalism. It's a shame, because it would make a perfect "Top Gun" museum with props or history from the film. If you're a Cruise or "Top Gun" fan, I highly recommend visiting this set; reminisce with the cottage and then make your way down the pier for dinner at Ruby's Diner. 


Next up, one of my personal favorites: 

Some Like it Hot

1959's sultry comedy, "Some Like It Hot" was ahead of its time, featuring two musicians (Tony Curtis as Joe and Jack Lemmon as Jerry, respectively) who dress in drag in order to avoid the mafia, and consequently fall in love with the beautiful Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) in the process. A substantial part of "Some Like it Hot" was filmed at none other than the historic (and expensive) Hotel Del Coronado, where many of the drag duo's hi-jinks were captured. 

Hotel Del Coronado

1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118


Almost Famous

Writer-director-producer Cameron Crowe knew exactly what he was doing while filming the 2000 dramedy "Almost Famous," featuring blockbuster darling Kate Hudson as Penny Lane. The film centers around William Miller (Patrick Fugit), a teen journalist trying to get his first cover story published during his time writing for Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. "Almost Famous" is semi-autobiographical, as director Crowe wrote for Rolling Stone as a teenager. 

Valley View Casino Center

3500 Sports Arena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110

While "Almost Famous" was filmed in several different cities, you may remember that when William first meets Stillwater (the band he's covering for RS) it's at the Valley View Casino Center, formerly San Diego Sports Arena. 


What other movies were filmed in San Diego? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to subscribe so you, too, can be an Industry Insider. 

.....Oh, and if you're wondering why I didn't mention Will Ferrell's slap-stick comedy "Anchorman," which was set entirely in San Diego, it's because the cast actually never stepped foot on SD soil. Most of the 'San Diego' scenes were filmed in Long Beach, outside of a few establishing shots of our skyline and specific buildings.