The Best Film & TV Locations for a Rainy Day in LA

Steve Martin skating in LACMA in "L.A. Story"
Steve Martin skating in LACMA in "L.A. Story" | Photo: Tri-Star Pictures

Los Angeles is world-famous for its year-round sunny weather. For those days when LA gets some much-needed rain, Angelenos and visitors alike will surely be looking for ways to keep dry. Catching a movie is one good approach to beating the rain. The following filming locations can also provide respite on a rainy day.

"Dueling Dinos" in the Grand Foyer of the Natural History Museum
"Dueling Dinos" at the Natural History Museum  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Natural History Museum

The third largest national history museum in the U.S. can be found in Exposition Park. The National History Museum of Los Angeles County was originally founded as the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science, and Art in 1913. The site has been expanded over the years and today includes countless activities for children and adults, including exhibits featuring over 35 million specimens, a butterfly pavilion, a spider pavilion, nature gardens, life-size dioramas, and the 14,000-square-foot Dinosaur Hall.

The museum’s ornate Grand Foyer, located just past the main entrance, is one of the property’s most well-known spots, thanks to the fighting Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops skeletons that are displayed there. The same Grand Foyer masked as the War Memorial Opera House in the 1990 classic Pretty Woman. In the movie, Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) flies Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) to San Francisco to catch a showing of La Traviata. While filming was supposed to take place in the City by the Bay, the Loma Prieta earthquake rendered that impossible. Instead, the Natural History Museum was utilized. In the scene, Vivian (wearing her iconic red dress) and Edward enter the main doors of the museum before heading right and walking upstairs. Had the camera panned just slightly farther to the right in the shot, the famed “Dueling Dinos” would have been visible.

LA Opera presents "Satyagraha"
Sean Panikkar as Gandhi in "Satyagraha" | Photo: LA Opera, Facebook

LA Opera at the Music Center

The 22-acre Music Center is comprised of a large plaza, fountains, a rooftop garden, an amphitheater, a reflecting pool, outdoor performance spaces, several restaurants and cafes, and four world-class venues – Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum, Ahmanson Theatre and Walt Disney Concert Hall. Established in 1964, the complex hosts hundreds of musicals, festivals, plays, concerts, opera and dance performances each year.

There is no better place to spend a rainy day than a free 90-minute docent-led Symphonian Tour of The Music Center. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is one of the tour highlights. Home to the LA Opera, the 3,197-seat theatre boasts one of the nation’s largest stages, as well as an ornately gilded marble lobby. The lobby is most likely familiar to Mad Men fans. In the Season 3 episode “Souvenir,” it masked as the lobby of the Hilton hotel in Rome, where Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and his wife, Betty (January Jones), stay during a business trip.

The Last Bookstore Book Tunnel
The Last Bookstore  |  Photo: Discover Los Angeles

The Last Bookstore

Book lovers, rejoice! California’s largest independent bookshop is located in the heart of Downtown LA. The Last Bookstore was originally founded by Josh Spencer in 2005 as an online emporium that the young entrepreneur ran out of his Downtown loft. It wasn't long before he outgrew that loft and moved to a brick-and-mortar site on Main Street. Another move, this time to the 10,000-square-foot lobby of the Spring Arts Tower, as well as a subsequent expansion to the building’s second floor, happened shortly thereafter. Today, The Last Bookstore is a 16,000-square-foot space that houses over 250,000 new and used books inventoried on stacks as far and high as the eye can see. The back room alone contains more than 100,000 books priced at $1 each. The site is much more than just a bookstore. Spencer fashioned the grand Art Nouveau-style interior with whimsical décor elements, artwork and unique exhibits displayed around every corner. The pièce de résistance is the “Labyrinth Above the Last Bookstore” – a towering cornucopia of stacked books that serves as a hallway between rooms. It is not to be missed.

The Last Bookstore has made its way to the screen several times. Its most notable appearance was in a rather illicit flashback scene in the thriller Gone Girl, in which Nick and Amy Dunne (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, respectively) are shown experiencing happier times.

Samuel Oschin Planetarium at the Griffith Observatory
Samuel Oschin Planetarium | Photo by Justin Donais, © Friends Of The Observatory

Griffith Observatory

One of the city’s most unique and historic attractions is located inside of the Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park. The Samuel Oschin Planetarium was the third planetarium to be built in the United States and has hosted millions of visitors since it was originally established in 1935. The theatre underwent an extensive renovation beginning in 2002 and today features a 76-foot diameter aluminum dome, a Zeiss star projector, and 290 seats. Three different shows, running every 60 to 90 minutes, are presented daily. The Griffith Observatory boasts many additional attractions aside from the Planetarium, including numerous astronomy exhibits, the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theatre, one of the largest Foucault Pendulums in the world, a Zeiss refracting telescope, a solar telescope and a Tesla coil. The site also offers daily events, programs, talks, demonstrations and public telescope viewings.

The Samuel Oschin Planetarium has been featured numerous times onscreen, including an unforgettable scene in La La Land. James Dean goofed off during a show there while on a field trip with his classmates in Rebel Without a Cause. As a nod to that 1955 classic, Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth) and Dylan McKay (Luke Perry) go on their first official date at the planetarium in the Season 3 episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 titled “Rebel with a Cause.”

Steve Martin skating in LACMA in "L.A. Story"
Steve Martin skating in LACMA in "L.A. Story" | Photo: Tri-Star Pictures


The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) was originally established as part of the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art in Exhibition Park in 1910 and moved to its current Mid-Wilshire location in 1965. The goliath property, which is the largest art museum in the Western U.S., is comprised of eight separate buildings that house over 250,000 works of art. The site also boasts an auditorium, a theatre, a children’s gallery, a public art plaza, a café, a gift store, an 8,100-square-foot open-air entrance, and an upscale eatery (Ray’s and Stark Bar, which the Los Angeles Times deemed one of the best new restaurants of 2011).

It was on the third floor of LACMA’s Hammer Building, in the art of the ancient world section, that Harris K. Telemacher (Steve Martin) roller-skated in the 1991 classic L.A. Story. (Note – roller-skating is not actually allowed on the premises, so leave your wheels at home!) That same area was also where Angela Chase (Claire Danes) and her classmates, including Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto), attended a field trip in the Season 1 episode of My So-Called Life titled “Why Jordan Can’t Read.”

Beverly Center

The nine-story Beverly Center, which was built by developers A. Alfred Taubman, Sheldon Gordon and E. Phillip Lyon, first opened its doors in 1982. The complex became famous for its Plexiglas tubed escalators, which were designed to resemble those of the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Though they have since been remodeled, the enclosed escalators still provide fabulous views of the surrounding area without having to step outside. The gargantuan, 884,000-square-foot mall currently boasts more than 100 retailers, including upscale boutiques such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry and The Ferrari Store, as well as numerous eateries like the Michelin-starred Angler. The site also offers valet parking (the attendants will wash guests’ cars on request), specialized to-and-from transportation via Lyft, and free Wi-Fi throughout. Along with Rodeo Drive, the Beverly Center has long been considered the epitome of L.A. shopping and has been featured in countless productions including L.A. Story, Body Double, Ruthless People and Volcano. The exterior famously appeared as the center where Bette Midler and Woody Allen shopped – and fought - in 1991’s Scenes from a Mall (interiors were shot in Connecticut). Bonus – the Beverly Center is the frequent stomping ground of celebrities, so a star sighting is almost guaranteed while you're shopping.

Vincent van Gogh, "Irises" (1889) | Photo: Getty Center
Vincent van Gogh, "Irises" (1889) | Photo: Getty Center

Getty Center

Though the Getty Center is well-known for its large gardens, expansive plazas and breathtaking views, which on a clear day can stretch all the way to Catalina Island, there is plenty to be seen indoors, as well. The massive complex, which sits on 110 acres, was designed by architect Richard Meier in 1997 and is comprised of five connected gallery pavilions. Admission is free and hours can be spent poring over the many exhibitions of paintings, furnishings, tapestries, sculptures, photographs, and manuscripts, which include works by Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and Manet. There is also a cafeteria and restaurant onsite for when hunger strikes.

Several areas of the property, including the Museum Entrance Hall, Museum Courtyard and the Garden Terrace Café patio, played the role of Starfleet Headquarters in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. Though some CGI was incorporated to make the gallery pavilions appear taller and the background to be that of San Francisco, the Getty Center is still very recognizable from its silver screen appearance.

Westfield Culver City

Countless rain-free hours can be spent wandering the sprawling one-million-square-foot Westfield Culver City. The complex was originally built as the Fox Hills Malls in1975 and was Southern California’s first three-level indoor shopping center. Designed by Gruen Associates, the property’s most notable décor element was a towering red glass-and-steel staircase that rose to the third floor from an Asian-themed garden. The mall was extensively remodeled in 1988 and then again in 2007, and the iconic staircase was removed during the latest renovation. The center currently features 177 retailers including Target, Best Buy and Old Navy, a large food court, a Gold’s Gym, and eateries such as BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Olive Garden and Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ.

The mall has long been a location manager favorite. When it was still Fox Hills, Emilio Estevez battled a video game that had come to life at the mall’s arcade in the 1983 horror film Nightmares. Sarah Jessica Parker shopped there with Shannen Doherty and Helen Hunt in 1985’s Girls Just Want to Have Fun. And in 1991, Keanu Reeves and Gary Busey engaged in a car chase with the “Ex-Presidents” around the Fox Hills parking lot in Point Break. More recently, Superbad and Southland filmed on the premises.

Nuart Theatre in West LA
Photo: Landmark's Nuart Theatre, Facebook

Nuart Theatre

The Art Deco-style Nuart Theatre, which was originally built in 1930 for Fox West Coast Theatres, has won countless awards over the years including ”Best Indie Theatre”, “11 Best Movie Theatres in Los Angeles” and “Top-Rated Popcorn.” The art house venue was acquired by Landmark Theatres in 1974 and completely renovated in 2006. Besides independent and foreign film presentations, the 303-seat theatre also regularly hosts celebrity Q&As, special film-centric events and Saturday night showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Bonus – the concession stand serves wine and beer!

Though the 1978 comedy-thriller Foul Play was set in San Francisco, the Nuart figured prominently in the storyline. On a dark and stormy night, Gloria Mundy (Goldie Hawn) goes on a date with a mysterious stranger named Scotty (Bruce Soloman). During a double feature of Killers Walk Among Us and This Gun Is Mine, Scotty is murdered and Gloria spends the rest of the movie tracking down his killer.

Prince Tribute Skate Night at Moonlight Rollerway
Prince Tribute Skate Night | Photo: Moonlight Rollerway, Facebook

Moonlight Rollerway

The building that currently houses Moonlight Rollerway was constructed in 1940 and was originally utilized to build and produce airplane parts during World War II. A man named Harry Dickerman purchased the property in 1950, installed a 75- by 170-foot tongue-and-groove maple wood floor (no nails were used in its construction) and transformed the site into a roller skating arena named Harry’s Roller Rink. That same flooring is still in place today. The rink, which is a national historic landmark, was taken over by new owners in 1963 and given its current moniker, Moonlight Rollerway. Many rain-free hours can be spent circling the space to tunes provided by an authentic Hammond organ. There is also a café, an arcade, and a pro shop located on the premises and themed events like Country Western Night and Harry Potter Night are offered regularly, as well as roller derby and skating lessons. Moonlight Rollerway is wildly popular with filmmakers and has been featured in everything from 1979’s Roller Boogie to Jessica Simpson’s 2006 “Public Affair” music video and the Season 1 episode of Glee titled “Home.” The rink masked as the now-shuttered Skateland U.S.A., the site of N.W.A.’s first concert, in Straight Outta Compton.