"Chino" in Sun Valley.
Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?
A. Ryan's former
home town of Chino.
Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?
A. Chino, California.
In reality, Chino is a small city located about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, and about nine miles southeast of the L.A. Fairgrounds in Pomona.
But the show wasn't really filmed in Chino.
Q. When did we see it on the show?
A. For this location of "Chino": in Episode One (of season one), "The Pilot", where Ryan's brother (Trey) forces Ryan to steal a car (and they are later arrested).
Also, in the
same episode, we see a desperate Ryan (having been thrown out of his house),
making phone calls from a pay phone on the street, trying to find some
place to stay. And later in the same episode, we see Sandy Cohen arrive
and pick up Ryan and take him out of "Chino" (to Newport
Beach for the first time).
Q. What is it actually in real life?
A. A small shopping
center and the surrounding streets.
Q. Where can I find it in real life?
A. It's not in the real Chino.
You are probably asking yourself "Where on earth is Sun Valley? It's in the northeast part of the San Fernando Valley (above Burbank), 50 miles away from the real Chino.
Here's an aerial photo map of the area.
(Trust me, this
is not really a part of town you want to visit.)
As far as I know, this was the one and only episode of The O.C. that used Sun Valley as a Chino location. "Chino" scenes in subsequent episodes were shot in other parts of L.A., including Venice, East L.A. & Lawndale.
However, The O.C. producers did return to the area in one other (non-Chino) episode. In Episode 14 (of season two), "The Rainy Day Women", they used The Pink Motel in Sun Valley (just a couple of blocks away from the car theft location), as the spot where Sandy & Rebecca stayed during a rainstorm.
Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?
A. Sun Valley was a major pain to track down, in part because I've never been there. Fortunately, I was able to spot the La Familia cafe in the background of the phone call scene, and although the Yellow Pages turned up several La Familias, I was able to narrow it down to the one in Sun Valley. I was fortunate that the car theft scene was shot next door. Because when I checked Live Local aerial photos to look for the restaurant, I immediately recognized the nearby shopping center as the scene of the car theft.
O.C. screenshots from the show and all related characters & elements
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