From classic films to current hit TV shows, Los Angeles is home to the studios that produce much of what you see on the small and large screen. Plan a studio tour to get a behind-the-scenes peek at sets and props, learn movie buff-worthy trivia, and maybe even see some of your favorite stars in action.
If you’re looking to fill a whole day with movie-themed fun, buy a 1-day pass for Universal Studios Hollywood (starting at $105), which grants you access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, themed rides such as The Simpsons and Jurassic Park, and access to the world-famous Studio Tour. Hosted on video by Jimmy Fallon, the tour takes you through four acres of the sprawling studio lot, including the largest set construction project in studio history, built with creative consultation from Steven Spielberg. The tour will take you through the plane crash scene from War of the Worlds, Desperate Housewives’ Wisteria Lane, the legendary Bates Motel of Psycho fame, and the set of Jaws. Studio tours are available daily during theme park hours.
100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City
Where to eat nearby: Karl Strauss Brewing Company, 1000 Universal Studios Blvd., Universal City, 818.753.2739
The Gilmore Girls’ hometown of Stars Hollow, Connecticut is actually found on the Warner Bros. lot, and their town square set is one of the many backlots and soundstages you’ll get to explore during the two-hour guided tour ($52-65) of this iconic studio in Burbank. The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Big Bang Theory and 2 Broke Girls currently film on the lot — where the film classic Casablanca was also shot — so you may get a glimpse of your favorite TV star if you time your tour right. After the guided portion of the tour, be sure to check out the Friends’ favorite coffee shop, Central Perk Café, which has been replicated and now has a permanent home at the studio’s Stage 48: Script to Screen soundstage.
Want a more in-depth tour experience? Splurge for the deluxe tour ($295), which includes a five-hour guided tour of Warner Bros.’ 110-acre lot, a three-course lunch at the Commissary Fine Dining Room — where you might rub elbows with Hollywood royalty, and a tour of the prop department, in addition to access to Stage 48. Studio tours depart continuously every day from 8:30 a.m.– 3:30 p.m. Deluxe tours depart Monday through Friday at 10 a.m.
3400 W. Riverside Dr., Burbank
Where to eat nearby: Olive & Thyme, 3821 West Riverside Dr., Toluca Lake, 818.557.1560
The century-old Paramount Pictures studio is the longest operating studio in Hollywood. Cecil B. DeMille, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Gary Cooper, the Marx brothers and Elvis Presley have all filmed at the iconic studio lot that now houses the sets for Blacklist, Grace and Frankie, NCIS: Los Angeles, Scream Queens, This Is Us, Transparent, Veep and more. Paramount Studios is also home to an elaborate New York Street backlot that can transform into 10 different NYC neighborhoods — making a visit to Paramount the fastest and cheapest way to travel across the country!
Choose from three different studio tours to get the exact experience you want: The basic studio tour ($55) includes a 2-hour guided cart tour of the prop warehouse and filming locations, and along the way your guide will provide insight into the studio’s rich history. The VIP tour ($178) is a 4.5-hour cart tour that includes VIP access to the archives, backlots and production facilities, a gourmet catered lunch or champagne and hors d’oeuvres, complimentary parking and a personalized souvenir photo. The After Dark tour ($78) allows you to see parts of the lot otherwise unseen by the public. The evening starts with a champagne toast followed by a 2.5-hour walking tour of backlots, sound stages and film vaults.
Studio tours run daily, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. VIP tours run weekdays at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. The After Dark tour is available select weekend evenings.
5515 Melrose Ave., Hollywood
Where to eat nearby: Osteria La Buca, 5210 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323.462.1900
At Sony Pictures in Culver City, a two-hour walking tour ($45) will provide you with a glimpse of the soundstages where The Wizard of Oz, Men in Black and Spider-Man were filmed, and you may catch Alex Trebek heading to host Jeopardy or Pat Sajak and Vanna White on their way to film Wheel of Fortune. You may also get to a chance to see the Barbara Streisand Scoring Stage or the set of the ABC comedy The Goldbergs. The lot is also home to a studio museum and is the permanent home of the Breaking Bad RV. The Sony Pictures Studio lot took over what used to be MGM, and many of the buildings still boast the same Art Deco styling that dates back to the golden age of Hollywood. Your trip to Sony is almost like a trip back in time! Tours run Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. Additional tour times are added during peak season. Reservations are required.
10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City
Where to eat nearby: The Wallace, 3833 Main St., Culver City, 310.202.6400