The location: The Pier.
Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?
A. A Pier.
Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?
aerial shots (including one in the opening credits) show it as the Balboa
Pier, on the Balboa peninsula in Newport Beach. But it isn't.
Q. When did we see it on the show?
A. From the very start, and in almost all the episodes that have followed.
With the possible exception of the Harbor School, the Pier is the single most-used location in "The O.C." There have been countless scenes shot on various parts of the pier.
It is where the Pier Diner is located. It is where you'll find the Bait Shop. It is where Sandy's beach office is. It is where the Family Planning Clinic was located (where Theresa took her pregnancy test). It is where the food court is (where Sandy met Lindsay's Mom to warn her that she was about to be arrested). It's where the kids stroll, bicycle, skateboard, eat, and just hang out.
Q. What is it actually in real life?
A. A pier -
but not in Balboa.
Q. Where can I find it in real life?
A. More than one pier has been used in creating the illusion of the pier, but one stands out by itself.
Almost all of the scenes set on the Pier in "The O.C." are filmed at the Redondo Beach Pier, at the west end of Torrance Blvd in Redondo Beach, CA.
The Redondo Pier is a large one, made up of four different pier structures forming a sort of horseshoe-shaped loop out over the bay, topped with numerous restaurants and shops. It dwarfs the real Balboa Pier (with its lone, straight pier and its one restaurant - Ruby's Diner).
Here is a photo map link to show the exact location of the Redondo Pier, and to let you see what it looks like from above.
They have filmed all over the Redondo Pier, from the Bait Shop nightclub in it's northeast corner to the familiar Pier Diner at its southwest corner, and everywhere in between. Most of the many, many scenes of people just hanging out, talking, taking in the sail boats & the scenery, are shot on the long north/south section of the pier that makes up the west side of the pier. This middle section contains no shops or restaurants, just a walkway (with those engraved whales in the sidewalk) and the occasional telescope for sightseeing. Sandy met with Caleb here. Sandy met with Lindsay's mother on the old south side of the pier, near the food court. A drunk Lindsay seemingly disappeared in the water under this Redondo Pier.
Plus, several scenes have been shot in the adjoining village of blue office buildings that is clustered on the top level of the pier's parking structure, just above the entrance to the pier itself. (It's called 'Pier Plaza' business park, and is considered part of the pier by the city). Sandy's beach office is one of those blue buildings (#111). So was the Family Planning Clinic where Theresa went to find out if she was pregnant (#121).
Here is a map
of the pier showing where various O.C. scenes have been shot.
For one episode
(Episode 13 of season two), the producers shifted filming to Long Beach.
They shot two scenes there. One is where Rebecca & Sandy dump Max's
ashes off the pier, and the other is where Sandy meets with a friendly
prosecutor to discuss Rebecca's case. Both of those two scenes were shot
at the Belmont Pier in Long Beach
(at the end of 39th place, south of Ocean Blvd). (Map)
And when the pier is seen from a long distance, you are often seeing the Hermosa Pier, at the west end of Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach. (Map) I assume that this is because they want it to look like the Balboa Pier from a distance, and the Balboa Pier is a single pier. The Hermosa Pier is also a single, straight pier, while (as we mentioned above) the Redondo Pier is made up of interlinking structures. The Hermosa Pier is seen in the background of The Crab Shack in the early episodes, and the same pier is also seen in the background of some early beach scenes where the girls are sunning themselves on the sand. (In addition, many non-pier scenes were shot in adjacent the city of Hermosa Beach, especially on The Strand and the Pier Plaza area at the foot of the Hermosa Pier.)
Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?
A. I have been to the Redondo Beach pier many times. I recognized it instantly when I saw it on TV.
To easily recognize the Redondo Pier on TV, just look for one of three obvious things: 1. Those sail-shaped art forms which decorate the Redondo Pier; 2. The round Redondo emblems that are mounted on the log railings of the Redondo pier; 3. The silhouettes of whales, seals and other sea creatures embossed in the concrete on the pier's main new walkway (but not on the older, wooden section of the pier on the south side). Also, if they are looking south (as they often are), the Palos Verdes cliffs are clearly visible on the horizon (since the hill is just a mile or two south of the Redondo Pier).
O.C. screenshots from the show and all related characters & elements
are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.