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You'd be surprised just how many of your favorite movies were filmed in San Diego. Take notes to plan your next vacation and check out these locations!

Movie Locations In San Diego That Will Make You Want to Visit

While Las Angeles may be the mecca of film, San Diego is no stranger to the movie biz. A captivating beachside paradise with miles of pristine beaches lined with towering palm trees all set under the dazzling California sun, it’s no wonder so many movies are filmed in San Diego.

Transport yourself to this hidden gem of California through different films throughout our times and you just may find yourself inspired to visit — or make a move to this stunning seaside city.

Without further ado, here are some of the best films of our time all set in the sunshine city of San Diego.

Top Gun (1986) – Oceanside

movies in san diego

Oceanside, San Diego

While Top Gun was filmed in numerous locations around San Diego, one of the most idyllic spots was Charlie’s famed seaside bungalow in the neighborhood of Oceanside, a true southern California beachtown. In the film Maverick, played by Tom Cruise, rode up the hill on his motorcycle and parked outside of Charlie’s house as the sun was setting. The location was so good that Kelly McGillis, who played Charlie, actually stayed at this bungalow during the making of the film.

Some Like it Hot (1959) – Hotel Del Coronado

movies in san diego

Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego

One of the most iconic films of its time and a Marilyn Monroe classic, Some Like it Hot highlighted the picturesque Hotel Del Coronado and southern California’s scenic coastline. When the victorian-style hotel first opened in 1888, it was the largest resort hotel in the world. Frequently visited by the rich and famous and the setting for this classic comedy, Hotel Del Coronado has since become a true icon of the sun-drenched city.

Citizen Kane (1941) – Balboa Park

movies in san diego

Balboa Park, San Diego

Probably one of the most famous yet controversial films of our time, Citizen Kane remains a true classic that features the stunning Balboa Park as part of Charlie Foster Kane’s private Florida estate Xanadu. Balboa Park is at the true heart of San Diego featuring a sprawling thousand acres of natural, lush beauty, tropical gardens, and countless museums all encased in classic Spanish Colonial architecture.

Freaky Friday (1976) – Mission Bay

movies in san diego

Mission Bay, San Diego

This Disney classic, starring Jodi Foster takes place in the beautiful neighborhood of Mission Bay. In the final scene of Freaky Friday, the two main characters switch back to their normal selves during a water-skiing competition in the legendary bay. Mission Bay Park is a man-made water wonderland, and the largest in the world, created from over 4,600 acres of waterways, inlets, and wetlands.

Almost Famous (2000) – Ocean Beach

movies in san diego

Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego

Ocean Beach, one of San Diego’s relaxed communities touting total hippie vibes was the quintessential setting for the award-winning film, Almost Famous set in the 1970s. This funky beach town of San Diego is a favorite among locals, surfers, and lovers of all things vintage, spotlighting one of the longest piers in Southern California, extending a half mile out to sea.

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