The historic heart of the county, Monterey dates to the late 1700s and has long attracted movie-makers and visitors with its old adobes, maritime backdrops and hospitality. In addition to Fisherman’s Wharf and other historic sites, tour Colton Hall for a close-up look at the police station where Doris Day sought help in Julie and the school where Sandra Dee pined for Troy Donahue in A Summer Place. The building’s real-life role as home to the state’s first constitutional convention was memorialized in the western California, starring Barbara Stanwyck; the film premiered at downtown Monterey’s grand Golden State Theatre.
Though the white sand beach at the end of Ocean Avenue is world famous, Carmel’s quaint architecture has won most of the casting calls. Movies such as Julie, Five Finger Exercise, The Lady Says No, Seems Like Old Times, Thumb Tripping, and Play Misty For Me have all relied on Carmel’s shop-lined Ocean Avenue and other byways for much of their street appeal, with the old Mediterranean Market a frequent star. In the summertime, load up on picnic supplies and blankets, then head to the historic outdoor Forest Theatre for screenings of some of Hollywood’s classic work.
Pebble Beach once linked to Monterey’s elegant old Hotel Del Monte by a winding track known as the 17-Mile Drive. Pebble Beach’s native pine forest, gracious Lodge, golf courses, mansions, rocky coast, and windswept cypresses were—and are—a filmmaker’s heaven. From the silent era to today, more than 40 films have taken advantage of the sights, including Our Dancing Daughters (Joan Crawford’s 1928 breakthrough role) and the original version of The Parent Trap.
Pacific Grove offers special charm with its quaint downtown shops, Victorian homes and ocean-view inns. Its scenic drive follows along a rocky shoreline with tidepools. Pacific Grove is proud to be called “America’s Last Hometown.” Walk and shop the hometown streets of Pacific Grove, where Tom Hanks found canine companionship in Turner & Hooch, and the movie Junior filmed a driving scene.
It is fitting that Salinas hosted movie crews during the filming of the award-winning East of Eden in 1954; the town and surrounding farmland played a major role in Steinbeck’s 1952 novel. This burgeoning town was John Steinbeck’s birthplace. Its National Steinbeck Center honors its best-known literary son and spotlights the writings and the movies that came from them. Plan for lunch at the nearby Steinbeck House, Steinbeck’s boyhood home, drive through the long valley that shaped so much of Steinbeck’s work.