The location: Palos Verdes.
Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?
A. This wealthy
area of the South Bay has been the setting for multiple locations on "The
Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?
A. Newport Beach.
Q. When did we see it on the show?
A. On many different occasions. It is the familiar hill you see on the southern horizon in most of the beach & pier shots. It is the dramatic cliffs you see reaching into the Pacific in the background scenes (which resemble the Newport and Laguna cliffs).
In Episode 11
(of season one) "The Homecoming", you'll see those cliffs
at around 40:23 on the DVD.
It is on this hill that Ryan first offered Lindsay a ride at the bus stop. It's here that you'll find the Country Club where they held the Cotillion, and where they auctioned off the "Risky Business" glass egg. It's here that the characters play golf. It's here that Julie and Caleb were married, and where Caleb's funeral was held. It's here that Julie held her engagement shower. And it's here that Harbor School held their bonfire on the beach.
Q. What is it actually in real life?
A. Palos Verdes is a peninsula, a large hill (about 23 square miles) overlooking the ocean, home to several posh, mostly residential communities (the cities of Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, and Rolling Hills Estates) which are grouped together (in the public mind) under the general label of Palos Verdes.
Like Newport, Palos Verdes is a prosperous oasis, home to some of the wealthiest people in California (as well as some who are merely very well off). Palos Verdes has its own unique ambiance, a mix of the rustic and the Mediterranean, casual and costly, where you'll find wooded canyons and horse riding paths, next to red-tiled roofs and Italian piazzas set against the blue Pacific.
Ironically, the screenshot below (of the Palos Verdes cliffs) was seen as part of the background as Ryan left Chino and drove back into Newport Beach - in Episode 11 (season one), "The Homecoming":
Q. Where can I find it in real life?
A. You'll find the peninsula just south of Redondo Beach. (Or just look south from just about anywhere in the South Bay to catch a glimpse of the Palos Verdes hills.) It is well worth a visit, if only to enjoy the spectacular views to be found during a leisurely cruise on Palos Verdes Drive, a road which circles the edge of the peninsula, high above the water. This one road will take you to (or nearby) virtually all of the O.C. filming locations in Palos Verdes.
(I shot the photo below in 2006, from a lookout point just off Palos Verdes Drive.)
Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?
A. Anyone who lives in the South Bay knows Palos Verdes when they see it. Like the Hollywood Sign, the hill is an ever-present landmark on the horizon. Finding the precise locations in Palos Verdes, on the other hand, was more difficult. Click on the individual location links above to learn about that...
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