Top Five Films Set in San Diego


From the most perfect weather on the planet, to enough trendy restaurants to keep a foodie happy for life, San Diego is truly among the greatest cities in the world. With a rich culture and phenomenal views that span desserts, mountains, and oceans, it's no surprise that a massive variety of films have been set in San Diego. Directors ranging from Cameron Crowe to Tony Scott have chosen San Diego as the prime location for some of their most memorable films, and each has added to the legacy of one of America's greatest coastal cities, San Diego.

Almost Famous (2000)
One of the sexiest and most rock-heavy coming of age films in history, Almost Famous follows the experiences of a young journalist as he covers some of the most legendary rock bands to ever grace a stage. The bands the protagonist meets range from Lynyrd Skynyrd to The Eagles, and the stories are based primarily on Cameron Crowe's own experiences as a young journalist. With rock music, beautiful people, and a touching story of a kid who mingled with legends, Almost Famous is a powerful film that is fittingly set in San Diego.

Traffic (2000)
While most films set in San Diego tend toward the funny and light-hearted, Traffic is a much darker crime drama starring heavy hitters like Benicio Del Toro and Michael Douglas. A fairly complex film, Traffic tackles political issues, and spans across three storylines, with one set in San Diego. Most people think of beaches and great weather when they think of San Diego, but locals know that it also has its share of gritty, rough areas which made it an ideal setting for a film like Traffic.

Paranormal Activity (2009)
The "found footage" style of filming introduced in The Blair Witch Project reached its horrifying peak in Paranormal Activity, an innovative horror film set in San Diego. Redefining horror movies for a new generation, Paranormal Activity followed a young couple who was increasingly pursued by a supernatural force. If unpredictable instances of objects moving around, doors closing by themselves, and the house's occupants being dragged out of their bed are things that will scare you, then Paranormal Activity may be the most unsettling horror film you ever see. It also has the distinction of popularizing audience reactions, as this San Diegan film was designed to do one thing: Terrify people.

Top Gun (1986)
San Diego is known for many things, and being a Navy town is one of them, with some of the largest military bases in the country. This made it a perfect setting for Tony Scott's tale of elite fighter jet pilots, Top Gun. Starring Tom Cruise as Maverick, and Val Kilmer as Iceman, this memorable film followed a wild pilot as he meets other strong characters and evolves into a professional and competent Top Gun instructor. The film made a massive impact, and was added to the National Film Registry due to its relevance to American culture. If you happen to be on Harbor Drive and are feeling nostalgic, then pay a visit to Kansas City Barbecue, the restaurant featured in Top Gun.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
When the best comedic actor of our generation makes a film that extensively focuses on your city, people remember it. Perhaps more than any other film on this list, Anchorman truly resonated with San Diegans. With an ensemble comedy cast and absurd scenes with eclectic characters, Will Ferrell's highly-quotable character is arguably his most memorable work. From "I love lamp!" to the bit about Sex Panther, Anchorman may be the most quotable comedy film ever conceived. Most San Diegans under forty will still recall some of their favorite lines, as Anchorman has earned its place as the most beloved comedy set in the World's Finest City.

Author Bio: Nicholas Napier is an MBA and Navy Vet who makes his living as a writer in San Diego. See his work in magazines like Roller Skating Business Magazine, or contact him for business or fitness related articles at NickNapierBusiness@outlook.com.