SLO CAL Film Trail

From the rugged coast of Maine and small-town Ohio to the marbled columns of ancient Rome and the sprawling sand dunes of ancient Egypt, who doesn’t love a good location. And San Luis Obispo County’s varying landscapes provide that backdrop for filmmakers since Hollywood’s Golden Age.  The SLO CAL Film Trail features just some of the many movies that have taken place in SLO CAL and on this self-guided tour throughout the region, you can walk in the footsteps of Pete’s Dragon in Montaña de Oro State Park or find romance on your own Destination Wedding in Paso Robles.

Whether you are a film buff or just love the movies, let the SLO CAL Film Trail be your guide as you discover your own movie magic.

Updated 8/10/23

San Luis Obispo

Aria (1987)

Location: Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo

This British anthology film consists of 10 short films, one of which details the love affairs of a married couple, all filmed in various themed rooms at the renowned Madonna Inn. The Gold Rush Steak House, the Caveman Room and even the opulent men's restroom can be spotted in the art.

My Blue Heaven (1990)

Location: Apple Farm Restaurant, San Luis Obispo; City Hall & Town Square, Atascadero

This comedic spinoff of the classic “Goodfellas,” features Steve Martin and Rick Moranis gallivanting through SLO CAL in the witness protection program. Featured in the film is the Apple Farm Restaurant, located in the city of San Luis Obispo, as well as the historic Atascadero City Hall.


North Coast

Commando (1985)

Location: San Simeon Cove, San Simeon; William Randolph Hearst State Beach, San Simeon

This classic action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Alyssa Milano and was partially filmed off the striking coast of San Simeon. Taking a walk at the pier and enjoying a glass of wine is the perfect pitstop along a SLO CAL Film Trail.

The Lady From Shanghai (1947)

Locations: Morro Rock, Morro Bay

Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth are caught in an affair while aboard a cruise in this vintage thriller drama. Their travels take them to Morro Rock, which is known for its striking silhouette against the coastline and surrounding abundant wildlife that swims in the bay.

Of Mice & Men (1939) 

Location: Hearst Ranch, San Simeon

Another film to take advantage of the beautiful Hearst property was the original filming of John Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men. This film was created just two years after the famed novel’s release. Hearst Ranch sets the scene as the depression-era ranch in the book.

The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959)

Location: Morro Rock, Morro Bay; Remember When Antiques, Cayucos

Decades ago, the film crew used North Oceans Avenue in Cayucos as the backdrop for the horror sci- fi film The Monster of Piedras Blancas. What once stood in as a meat shop for the monster is now a well-known antique shop called Remember When. This three-story shop is full of novel finds and is also a part of the SLO CAL Antiques Trail.

Pete’ s Dragon (1977)

Locations: Disney Point adjacent to Montaña de Oro State Park, Los Osos

This Academy Award nominated film is packed with magic and nostalgia. The lighthouse featured in the film was located on the cliffside just outside of Montaña de Oro State Park. Although the lighthouse was disassembled post-production, the point where it once stood has been designated as “Disney Point” and can be found along the popular Point Buchon walking trail.

Spartacus (1960) 

Location: Hearst Castle’s Neptune Pool, San Simeon

In order to capture the opulence of Roman architecture, Hearst Castle’ s Neptune Pool makes an appearance in the four-time academy award-winning film, “Spartacus”. Kirk Douglas and Jean Simmons lead a star-studded cast in this historical drama. Booking the Grand Rooms Tour will take visitors right to the famed Neptune Pool.



Arachnophobia (1990)

Location: Halter Ranch Vineyard (Victorian Farmhouse & Barn), Paso Robles

A historic Victorian farmhouse proved to be the perfect setting for a comedy horror film about a spider invasion featuring Jeff Daniels, Harley Jane Kozak and John Goodman. Featured in the quirky film is the historic farmhouse and barn at Halter Ranch Winery, built in 1885.

Destination Wedding (2018)

Locations: Dubost Vineyard & Winery, Paso Robles; Apple Farm Inn, San Luis Obispo; Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, San Luis Obispo

Starring Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder, Destination Wedding is a romantic comedy following two strangers paired together at a wedding. Filmed primarily in Paso Robles and around SLO CAL many sights featured in the film can still be seen today.


South Coast

Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000)

Locations: Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, Oceano

In this live action children’s comedy, Rocky and Bullwinkle chase their enemies across the country and make a pass through the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes on their adventure. The cast features Robert DeNiro, Rene Russo and Jason Alexander.

Hidalgo (2004)

Location: Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, Oceano

Viggo Mortenson plays a rugged cowboy flighting for his reputation and his life in the Middle East, based on the legend of Frank Hopkins and his famous mustang Hidalgo. The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes represent the Arabian sands in this epic western film.

Little Giants (1994)

Location: Arroyo Grande Swinging Bridge

This film featured Rick Moranis, Shawna Waldron, and Ed O’Neill. Also, guest starring in the film is the late John Madden, a Cal Poly SLO alumnus, and other NFL players who help this team of underdogs train for their big game. The City of Arroyo Grande stands in as the hometown and featured in the film is Arroyo Grande’s historic swinging bridge.

Morocco (1930)

Location: Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, Oceano

Star-crossed lovers struggle to make things work in this vintage film starring Gar y Cooper and Marlene Dietrich. The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes were used to represent the sandy environment of Morocco.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End (2007)

Location: Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, Oceano

The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes stands in for the warm sands of the Caribbean in this famed Disney film starring Kiera Knightly, Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp. The 15,000-acre dunes are home to countless family-friendly activities from surfing and hiking to horseback riding and bonfires.

The Sheik (1921) & The Son of the Sheik (1926)

Location: Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, Oceano

Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres star in this silent romantic drama meant to be based in the deserts outside of the Algerian city of Biskra. Similar in topography, the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes stood in for the North African desert. As the production of the first film was such a success, the sequel to “The Sheik” was also shot in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes.

The Ten Commandments (1923)

Location: Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, Oceano

Now designated as an archeological site, the filming location for this silent epic took place at the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes. Director Cecil B. DeMille is known for creating the largest set in movie history right on the sand. A century later, the Guadalupe –Nipomo Dunes Center now provides displays of the original movie set with information on the rich filming history, while the dunes themselves continue to unveil buried set pieces at their leisure.

The Whole Ten Yards (2004)

Location: Oceano Dunes, Oceano

This sequel to the film “The Whole Nine Yards” features Bruce Willis and Mathew Perry. It is filmed at the Oceano Dunes, which is a subset of the greater Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes and is accessible through Grover Beach. Visitors are currently able to take their vehicles along the beach, perfect for a sunset drive.

The World’s Greatest Lover (1977)

Location: Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, Oceano

Meant as a spoof of the early 20th century silent romance films, this comedy, starring Gene Wilder, once again utilizes the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes as a stand-in for foreign deserts in the backdrop.


Other Noteatable Productions

Feature-length films are not the only things filmed in SLO CAL! From television to music videos, the scenery of San Luis Obispo County can be seen in productions of all sort. Below are some other notable productions. 

G.U.Y– Lady Gaga Music Video (2014)

Location: Hearst Castle, San Simeon

Find Your Way Back – Beyonce Music Video (2019)

Location: Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, Oceano

This Is Us – TV Show (2022)

Location: CaliPaso Winery, Paso Robles; Allegretto Vineyard Resort, Paso Robles