Lost Highway: A David Lynch travel guide to Los Angeles
Looking for a trip that will blow your mind? Searching for a sojourn through the Hollywood dream? Then Los Angeles is where it’s at and this David Lynch-inspired travel guide should be your compass.
Lynch has long used various LA hotspots, dives, and legendary locations to shoot the majority of his work, and has even set a number of films there like Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, and Inland Empire. His passion for Los Angeles is well documented, having grown up in Montana and arrived there at the beginning of his career in 1977.
In his book Catching the Big Fish, Lynch describes stepping out of a small apartment on San Vicente Boulevard at night and seeing a light that “thrilled” his soul. “I feel lucky to live with that light,” he conceded.
Though much of that light isn’t exactly evident in Lynch’s often nefarious portrait of LA and noir depiction of the price of success in the Hollywood hills, his love for the city nonetheless comes through in his work.
Whether his TV shows or films are set there or not, they regardless take the viewer through a gilded tour of the city that encompasses the eclectic, historic, and singular majesty that he was described as having “an immediate full-tilt love affair” with from the second he arrived.
Featuring a variety of notable shooting locations for various iconic works by the filmmaker as well as significant places of interest for any Lynch fan, this travel guide will move and shake you towards many cups of coffee, scenes of murder, and mysterious caves.
It’ll likely also enchant you into discovering your own “immediate full-tilt love affair” with the city if you aren’t already completely swooning for it. So throw on your best snakeskin jacket to “proclaim your individuality and belief in personal freedom” like Sailor from Wild at Heart and go and discover LA’s light, Lynch-style.
Stay at The MacArthur Hotel from Wild at Heart (1990)
607 S. Park View St., Los Angeles 90057
The opening Wild at Heart title card might have suggested the place is in “Cape Fear – somewhere between the border of North and South Carolina” but it was actually shot in the heart of Los Angeles. The interior of the stunning Gothic Revival structure will be instantly memorable to all Lynch films as being the location of the opening salvo.
It’s the place where Sailor (Nicolas Cage) murders the assassin sent to kill him by Lula’s (Laura Dern) mom and the incredible Renaissance-style lobby ceiling and staircase are both standouts to see. Maybe you can use this hotel app to book your stay.
Get centered at Lynch’s Foundation for Transcendental Meditation
621 S. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Lynch is renowned for his devotion to Transcendental Meditation and has practiced it “Twice a day, every day” since 1973, explaining that “it has given me effortless access to unlimited reserves of energy, creativity, and happiness deep within. This level of life is sometimes called ‘pure consciousness’ — it is a treasury.” If you want to achieve the same level of life as Lynch then his foundation (established in 2005) provides an essential opportunity to do so.
Grab breakfast at The LA Athletic Club from Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)
431 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014, USA
The lavish establishment served as a shooting location for several scenes of Twin Peaks: The Return and also happens to serve up some mean munchies in its classy bistro. Make like Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and order yourself some of the best eggs and coffee in town. (Just make sure you don’t order any Garmonbozia, won’t you?)
Hang at the Ace Hotel where Lynch hosts his Festival of Disruption
929 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Lynch’s Festival of Disruption takes place at the Ace Hotel where he brings together his favorite artists to expand consciousness through creativity. The festival also raises funds and awareness for his foundation which eradicates post-traumatic stress through Transcendental Meditation.
Lynch and his fave artists might not be there when you visit, but hopefully you can still soak up some of that residual creativity to expand your own consciousness while you’re there.
Enjoy an inspiring lunch at Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank
4211 W Riverside Dr, 91505 Burbank, California
Though not a shooting location, Bob’s Big Boy is iconic for being Lynch’s favored diner for scoring a sugar and caffeine fix and working on ideas, telling a reporter in 1990:
For seven years I ate at Bob’s Big Boy. I would go at 2:30, after the lunch rush. I ate a chocolate shake and four, five, six, seven cups of coffee – with lots of sugar. And there’s lots of sugar in that chocolate shake. It’s a thick shake. In a silver goblet.
I would get a rush from all this sugar, and I would get so many ideas! I would write them on these napkins. It was like I had a desk with paper. All I had to do was remember to bring my pen, but a waitress would give me one if I remembered to return it at the end of my stay. I got a lot of ideas at Bob’s.
Delve behind the diner at Caesar’s Restaurant from Mulholland Drive (2001)
1016 W. El Segundo Blvd, Gardena 90247
The shooting location for the greatest jump scare in cinema history where Patrick Fischler’s character faces his nightmare behind the wall of Winkie’s Diner is sadly now closed. That doesn’t mean you can’t loiter about outside and jump out at your pals in a similar manner. The restaurant itself actually appears a number of times in the film and is used to reflect the different facets of the two characters portrayed by Naomi Watts (King Kong).
Have a magic moment at the Firestone Building from Lost Highway
800 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036
The iconic Art Deco building was constructed in 1937 and remains a historic cultural monument. For Lynch fans, that’s because the location was used as the setting for Arnie’s Garage in Lost Highway and the place where every audience member fell madly in love with Alice (Patricia Arquette) to the throngs of Lou Reed’s “This Magic Moment”.
Chill out next to a cow on Sunset Boulevard
Sunset Blvd & N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
In 2006, Lynch notoriously brought Sunset Boulevard to a standstill when he delivered the most unorthodox For Your Consideration campaign on the corner of Sunset and La Brea.
Accompanied by a cow, plenty of cigarettes, and a sign promoting Laura Dern’s performance in Inland Empire with the slogan, “Without cheese there wouldn’t be an Inland Empire” (because apparently he “ate a lot of cheese during the making of it”), the campaign remains one of the most eccentric of all time and a classic Lynch move.
Relive his student years by visiting Greystone Mansion
905 Loma Vista Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Lynch was a student at the prestigious American Film Institute in 1972 back when it was located at the Greystone Mansion (the estate of 20s millionaire Ned Doheny).
While there, Lynch worked obsessively on his first feature masterpiece Eraserhead for several years, even commandeering the Doheny stables (down the road from the main building) and turning them into “the Eraserhood”. The mansion is also a significant filming location for the home of Nick Grace (Dern) in Inland Empire.
Eat a hotdog like a hitman at Pink’s from Mulholland Drive
709 North La Brea Avenue, Melrose Avenue, CA 90038
The legendary eatery is so popular, you regularly have to queue for food. But it’ll be worth it to chow down on the same hotdog that Joe the hitman and his associates enjoyed from the same place in Mulholland Drive.
Hike at Griffith Park from Twin Peaks (1990-1991)
4730 Crystal Springs Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA
The park is especially notable for The Bronson Caves, used in several TV and movie productions including Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Star Trek. In Twin Peaks they’re significant for being the location of “The Owl Cave” where Deputy Andy (Harry Goaz) accidentally discovers a map after striking the wall of the cave with a pickaxe. We strongly suggest you don’t try the same but do soak up some of that Twin Peaks energy the caves undoubtedly possess.
Meet an electric cowboy at Sunset Ranch from Mulholland Drive (2001)
3400 N. Beachwood Dr., Los Angeles 90068
The location where Justin Theroux’s fledgling director encounters a cryptic cowboy in the middle of the night might a look a little different in the daylight, but hey – if your life happens to be falling apart like his was, maybe this ranch can provide you with your very own angel of karma to help you through.
Chase a Hollywood dream at Il Borghese Apartments from Mulholland Drive (2001)
450 N. Sycamore St., Los Angeles 90036
The Spanish style Hancock Park property is the exquisite location for the dreamy apartment Betty is living in courtesy of her aunt. Built by Charles Gaunt in 1929 and famous for housing various aspiring Hollywood stars over the years, the apartments represent the dazzling Hollywood optimism of Mulholland Drive’s first half.
Pay your respects to Laura Palmer at The Sierra Madre Pioneer Cemetery from Twin Peaks
601 E. Sierra Madre Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
Try to restrain yourself from doing a Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) and screaming “you wanna know who killed Laura? You did!” in the middle of the place. This is where Laura Palmer’s funeral took place and where Leland launched himself on top of her coffin. Pay your respects a little less loudly, folks.
Whisper “Dick Laurent is dead” outside of Fred and Renee’s house from Lost Highway
7035 Senalda Road, Los Angeles, CA 90068
The exterior of this uniquely odd LA building lends itself well to a story about a man’s psyche slipping into a fugue state. Lynch also reportedly bought the house and turned it into his recording studio along with a screening room, which is just too perfect to even imagine.
Grab dinner (with a side of mystery) at the Old Place restaurant from Twin Peaks
29983 Mulholland Hwy., Agoura Hills, CA 91301
One of the filming locations for the secret clubhouse of the Bookhouse Boys in Twin Peaks, the Old Place will look instantly recognizable to everyone who has rewatched Twin Peaks far too many times. Much of the decor within the restaurant hasn’t changed since Lynch filmed there, making the place even more extraordinary for fans.
Catch a show at the Tower Theatre from Mulholland Drive
802 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014
Though the exterior of Club Silencio is located at the rear of the Palace Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, the interiors were actually shot at the Tower Theatre on South Broadway. We can’t promise whatever show you catch in there will be quite as emotional, life changing, and beguiling as the one Betty (Watts) and Rita (Laura Harring) watch, but you can at least soak up some of the grandeur.
Crash out at The Safari Inn from Wild at Heart
1911 W Olive Ave, Burbank, CA 91506
The legendary hotel is perhaps most iconic for having been a significant filming location for Tony Scott’s True Romance, but Lynch also filmed here three years earlier for some scenes from Wild at Heart.