The location: The Groundhog Day Park.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. "Newport Plaza", the large, grassy civic center / park containing Newport Beach City Hall and an amphitheatre; the scene of the city's annual Groundhog Day Festival.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. In Newport Beach.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. In Episode 12 (of Season 4), "The Groundhog Day", in the scenes where Seth & Che try to steal "Newport Chuck" (a groundhog) from the lobby of Newport City Hall; in the scenes where Taylor dresses up like a groundhog and then finds herself stalking Ryan, only to be unmasked and humiliated; and in the scenes where (after Che is arrested) Summer tries to 'liberate' the groundhog herself during the Groundhog Day Festival.

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. The City Hall building is actually the Redondo Beach Historic Library, a landmark built in 1930. It was closed in the '90s due to earthquake damage, but was repaired and now functions as the Veterans Park Community Center; it's is a popular rental site for weddings & parties.

    The green lawns surrounding the "city hall" building are part of Veterans Park, a 6.3-acre park perched right on the ocean's edge, with a good view of the Pacific.

    The rocky amphitheatre (where the official Groundhog Day ceremony was held) is also part of the park.

    The interior shots, where Seth & Che snatch the groundhog from the City Hall lobby, were actually shot inside the same Redondo Beach library.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. Veteran's Park is a public park, located at 309 Esplanade, in Redondo Beach, just a stone's throw southeast of the Redondo Beach Pier (where so much of The OC was filmed)..

    Veterans Park is bounded by Torrance Blvd on the north, Catalina Avenue on the east, Esplanade on the southeast, and the Pacific Ocean on the west.

    The "city hall" (library) is located in the northern half of Veterans Park. Its front doors were locked when I went there to shoot the photos below (on a weekday).

    The amphitheatre is located in the same park, about 40 yards north of the library. (The red curtains aren't normally there.)

    The park isn't quite as large and sprawling as it appears on the show, but it does have a nice view of the ocean, and is just a short walk to the Pier.

    Here is an aerial photo from Live Local.

    And here is a map link.

    To get there, when you're heading west down Torrance Blvd and come to the Redondo Pier, instead of turning (right) into the usual Pier parking garage, instead, turn left (south) on Catalina Ave and bear right on the Esplanade (along the edge of the park) until you come to the park's parking lot.

    The rooftop shots, where Seth & Che get themselves locked out on the roof all night, were not shot in Veterans Park. Instead, I'm 99% certain that they were shot the roof of the large parking structure of Manhattan Beach Studios itself, at 1600 Rosecrans Ave, in Manhattan Beach.

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. It was obvious that the "City Hall" wasn't the real Newport City Hall. My first guess was that it was either a school or a library. A closer look at the scenes showed that it was situated in a park which was right next to the ocean. I have parked my car at Veterans' Park on occasion, when visiting the nearby Redondo Beach Pier, so once I took a second look at those park scenes, I recognized the area. I went there in person to double check, and sure enough, it was a perfect match.

I shot the photos below in 2007.
They include the "City Hall" building,
the amphitheatre, and the ocean view from the park.

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