Since the days of Western stars William S. Hart and Gene Autry, screen legends have flocked to the Santa Clarita Valley.
Yet, it’s not just the people themselves that are renowned, but the place, as over the years, the SCV has become a popular filming destination for a number of productions.
Evan Thomason, an economic development associate with the city of Santa Clarita, said the SCV is often considered “anywhere America,” adding, “There are older neighborhoods and there are newer neighborhoods, so they can double as just about anywhere.”
With its diverse landscape, productions can begin their day filming the wild West, head to the suburbs, then to the Middle East, and finish off their day on Mars — all while staying within the SCV.
“They can travel all around the world without going 20 miles away from their stages,” Thomason added. “And that’s a valuable thing because time is money, and when you can keep things to a tight schedule, not have to go that far for a completely different look, and do four or five locations in a day or two, that’s a huge thing for productions, so it’s all part of Santa Clarita’s charm with the film industry.”
While residents have often caught glimpses of the SCV in movies, there are a number of locations many don’t realize are popular, so here are some of the SCV’s most popular film locations.
The 932-acre Vasquez Rocks Natural Area in Agua Dulce is one of the SCV’s most famous film locales due to its unique rock formations, which can be seen from Highway 14.
From doubling as Bedrock in “The Flintstones,” to almost every iteration of “Star Trek,” and to being featured in South Korean boy band BTS’ music video “On,” Vasquez Rocks’ unique rock formations can be seen in hundreds if not thousands of movies, TV shows, music videos and even some video games.
Residents can visit the park to hike or camp, and learn more about how the area took shape in the Nature Center, which showcases various exhibits and interactive displays with information on the movie filming done on-site, reptile exhibits, geological information and more.
Vasquez Rocks is located at 10700 Escondido Canyon Road in Agua Dulce.
Old Town Newhall
It’s no surprise that Newhall, home of the Walk of Western Stars, makes the list as one of the SCV’s most filmed locations.
Old Town Newhall itself is a filming hot spot and can be seen in popular TV shows, such as “S.W.A.T.” and “Goliath.”
Anything from restaurant interiors to car chase scenes have been filmed on Main Street, while the surrounding area is also frequently showcased.
The nearby Veteran’s Historical Plaza has been a featured park in “NCIS,” while the infamous The Original Saugus Cafe down the road, which is the oldest restaurant in Los Angeles County, has featured in numerous western films, as well as more recent TV and movie scenes, with Hollywood legends such as William S. Hart, Clark Gable, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin, Harry Carey, Hoot Gibson and even President Theodore Roosevelt having reportedly visited the cafe.
The city of Santa Clarita even has an app dedicated to touring the area, called the Newhall Walking Tour, where residents and visitors alike can check out the various historic locations, along with filming locations in the area, with information on was filmed there, like Ricardo’s Auto Upholstery, for example, was featured in the popular 2011 feature-film “Bridesmaids.”
Old Town Newhall is located on Main Street and the surrounding area. For more information on the Newhall Walking Tour app, visit walkingtour.oldtownnewhall.com or search for the app on your smart device.
College of the Canyons
The College of the Canyons campus has always been among one of the most filmed spots in the SCV, whether it’s their sports fields, various architectural building styles or interiors, as it can double as nearly “anywhere in America,” according to the SCV Film Office.
The campus purposefully does not have a lot of signage with its mascot or school name, to make it more film-friendly.
“It’s not uncommon to have two or three things filming over there at the same time, and they have doubled as just about everywhere, from foreign planets to CIA Langley,” Thomason said.
Some of the most popular productions featuring the COC campus are “The Girl Next Door,” “NCIS,” “CSI” and “Weeds.”
College of the Canyons is located at 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road in Valencia.
SCV’s movie ranches
The SCV is home to a number of movie ranches that while unfortunately aren’t typically open to the public, are some of the most popular filming destinations for some of the most popular productions, like “Westworld,” much of which was filmed at Melody Ranch, and “American Sniper,” where the Ramadi scenes were filmed at Blue Cloud Ranch.
While Disney’s Gold Oak Ranch is not quite visible from the outside, visitors can catch a glimpse of some of its iconic building’s rooftops from Placerita Canyon Road.
Walt Disney first leased the ranch in the late 1950s to film segments of “The Mickey Mouse Club,” but because of its setting in such a natural area, the studio went on to purchase the property and acquire more land over the years, bringing its total size to around 900 acres.
Some of the Disney productions that have shot at the ranch include “Old Yeller,” “The Parent Trap,” and more recently, “Pearl Harbor,” “Princess Diaries 2” and the second and third “Pirates of the Caribbean,” according to the ranch’s website.
Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch can be seen from Placerita Canyon Road near Highway 14. For more information on the ranch, visit goldenoakranch.com.
L.A. Film Locations
While L.A. Film Locations typically represent properties across the SCV, whether residential, commercial or industrial, its Newhall office has actually been featured in some shoots itself.
Monica Harrison, the owner of L.A. Film Locations, says that because the office actually looks like a bungalow, it’s been a popular choice among some productions, for not as an office, but as homes, as well, including several independent films, pharmaceuticals commercials and popular episodic TV shows, which cannot be named due to nondisclosure agreements.
The L.A. Film Locations office is located at 24367 Walnut St. in Newhall.
The Halfway House Cafe
Occupying a building that has been around since the early part of the 20th century, it’s also not a shocker that The Halfway House Cafe in Canyon Country has been showcased in dozens of productions.
While Clint Eastwood filmed a scene there for “Heartbreak Ridge” in 1986, its old-timey diner look is still popular today, and the locale has been featured in films such as “Space Cowboys,” “Waitress,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Every Which Way But Loose,” among others.
Plus, the restaurant has rarely, if ever, changed its menu or how it prepares food, so its classic, made-from-scratch food isn’t too bad either.
The Halfway House Cafe is located at 15564 Sierra Highway in Canyon Country.
Another surprising locale is the Hyatt Regency in Valencia, which is actually a high-profile filming destination.
Countless productions including “NCIS”, “Parenthood,” “CSI: NY,” “Make It or Break It,” “Las Vegas,” “Big Love,” “The Unit,” and “Little Miss Sunshine” have filmed at the Hyatt in the Vines Restaurant, the lobby, banquet rooms, pool area, gardens, hotel rooms and the exterior front entrance.
It also served as the “hiding spot” for Bella in the first “Twilight” movie, was where the vampire/werewolf convention in “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” was filmed and was featured as the Tallahassee hotel where a special team from “The Office” stayed to participate in Sabre’s “new project,” according to the SCV Film Office.
Most recently, the hotel was rented out by “Reno 911,” and the cast and crew were embedded into the hotel during the pandemic, using it as their “bubble” to both stay in the hotel and film there, according to Thomason.
Or enjoy a round of golf at Vista Valencia, another popular film production spot in the SCV, which has been featured in shows like “NCIS,” “CSI,” “JAG,” “The Office” and “Yes Dear,” along with feature films “G-Force” and “Starsky & Hutch.”
Hyatt Regency Valencia is located at 24500 Town Center Drive, while the Vista Valencia golf course is located at 24700 Trevino Drive.
To learn more about what’s filming or has filmed in Santa Clarita, visit FilmSantaClarita.com.