We had been planning our three day Back to the Future trip for many months before we actually left. It took lots of research to first of all find all of the filming locations we would be visiting. Then we had to outline an efficient two day route through southern California to reach as many locations as possible, avoid nasty traffic, and make the most of our time. Then the final day would take us to northern California near the Jamestown area. We all (myself, Anthony & Brandon) wanted to take this trip because we love the Back to the Future movies and thought it would be a fun, unique, and interesting trip. What you will see for each tour stop is first of all a picture from the movie from that scene, and then a picture of us at that location or a picture of what the landscape looks like currently in 2007. You will also see two locations which we first visited in January of 2009 towards the end.
Steve brought his Hover Board to some of the filming locations:
(actual location is at corner of Doris Ave. & Oxford Dr. in Oxnard.)
To get our day off to a good start, we drove down the night before when we got off work and stayed at a hotel in Oxnard. Interestingly, Oxnard was a town I had never even heard of before planning this trip. But we woke up and almost immediately we were at our first two locations. Our trip started with a visit to the site of the Hilldale Drag Race, which takes place at the very end of the trilogy. This is where Marty makes the right choice, and decides to back out of the race that would have gotten him into an accident. The interesting thing down below is to see how much the trees have grown in the 18 years since this scene was filmed for Back to the Future part III.
Marty and Jen pulling up to the spot where he is challenged:
Hilldale Drag Race spot as it looks today:
Hilldale, where Marty and Jennifer will live in the future:
Brandon and Steve at the entrance to Hilldale:
Needles and his gang end up racing nobody:
The trees have been growing since the drag race:
(actual location is on Ventura Rd. at the railroad crossing one block before you get to the ocean in Port Hueneme.)
Of all the locations we visited on the trip, this was one of the most meaningful to me. This is where Marty returns from the old west, but the DeLorean gets smashed by an oncoming train. Jennifer and Marty later come back here to take another look at what is left of the DeLorean, when Doc suddenly appears in his new steam train modified time machine. And then Doc says goodbye and flies away in his train, and the trilogy comes to an end.
Marty returning from the old west over Eastwood Ravine:
There is no real bridge over Eastwood Ravine:
Marty getting ready to enter the railroad crossing:
The same railroad crossing as it looks today:
Shocked and upset drivers have to wait at the crossing:
Steve and Anthony waiting at the crossing:
View from the DeLorean just before its demise:
That same view as it appears today:
Marty finds nothing left but parts:
Steve at this historic location:
Marty and Jennifer talking to Doc at the end of the trilogy:
Anthony parked his vehicle at the same place Marty did:
(actual location is in the city of Monrovia, but the homeowner asked me to not reveal the address.)
Marty and Doc drop off Jennifer in alternate 1985 and once order has been restored to the timeline, she wakes up in the fixed 1985. When Marty gets back from the old west, he stops by to wake her up and they take off in his truck. When we got to this location, the homeowner was outside so we had to ask if we could take pictures of the house. She said we could, but asked us to keep the address confidential.
Jennifer sleeping on her front porch:
Jennifer's house looks pretty much the same today:
Marty racing back to check on her in the third movie:
Steve outside of Jennifer's house:
Jennifer's famous porch swing:
The porch swing is still there and in perfect condition:
(actual location is at the corner of Somerset St. & Oakhurst St. in El Monte.)
These next two stops were located in a gated community, so it was not easy to gain entrance. But we finally did and got some great shots of this filming location from Back to the Future II. This is where Marty and Doc go to the future Hilldale to retrieve Jennifer, who has been dropped off there by the police.
The 2015 police car flying into Hilldale to drop off Jennifer:
Hilldale 2015 as it looks in 2007:
Doc & Marty hatching a plan to get Jennifer back:
Steve & Anthony at the exact same spot:
(actual location is at 3793 Oakhurst St. in El Monte.)
The exterior of the McFly Townhouse 2015 is only seen briefly in the movie, but it's a very important location, as this is where Marty, Jennifer, and family live in the future. The police drop Jennifer off here and then Doc manages to rescue her after she sees her future self and passes out.
A police car arrives at the McFly Townhouse:
The McFly Townhouse as it appears today:
The police are dropping Jennifer off at her house:
Notice the electrical box can be seen in all the pictures:
(actual location is the Puente Hills Mall at 1600 S. Azusa Ave. in City of Industry.)
Twin Pines Mall was the spot where Marty met up with Doc in the middle of the night. Einstein was the first test subject as he traveled one minute into the future in the Delorean. Then, the Libyan terrorists showed up and Marty had to take off for 1955. Twin Pines Mall is actually Puente Hills Mall and it continues to be visited by thousands of shoppers every day. The JC Penney store seen in the movie is now a Burlington Coat Factory and there is a gym to the left of it.
Marty skating down to meet Doc at Twin Pines Mall:
Brandon walking down towards Twin Pines Mall:
Marty looking over the railing into the parking lot:
Steve & Brandon at the same railing:
(actual location is at 12511 Bailey Street in Whittier.)
We've included this stop next because of its close proximity to Hill Valley High. Mr. Strickland's House is seen in Part Two, when Marty returns to alternate 1985 and is running through the neighborhood in shock because of the changes. Mr. Strickland catches Marty reading his newspaper on his porch and threatens him. It's certainly appropriate that Mr. Strickland lives just across the street from the high school. Be careful when taking pictures in this neighborhood, it didn't appear to be the safest area.
Mr. Strickland catches Marty on his front porch:
Strickland's house as it appears today:
Strickland's house gets shot up by gang members:
This location is in a rough neighborhood:
(actual location is at 12417 E. Philadelphia Street in Whittier.)
There were so many exterior locations filmed at Hill Valley High (actually Whittier High School), that I don't even know where to begin. I couldn't even post all of the spots that were filmed here in the first two movies, because there were just too many. Definitely one of the best stops on the whole trip. We visited the school a couple hours after it closed for the day and got some great pictures. It's best not to visit when school is in session because you might be considered a trespasser. We also checked in with one of the school workers when we arrived to let him know the purpose of our visit to the school.
The front entrance to Hill Valley High School:
Hill Valley High is actually Whittier High:
Marty McFly outside of Hill Valley High:
Anthony at the exact same location:
Students inside the hallways in the movie:
Anthony & Brandon are the newest students:
Marty tries to get the book back from Biff:
Steve heading down the same stairway:
Marty watching Biff as he flips through the book:
Brandon in Marty's location & Anthony in Biff's location:
Marty jumps down into the lower stairway:
Looking down into the lower stairway today:
Strickland takes the book, while Marty hides:
Steve hiding at the exact same spot (with a new fence):
Cars parked in the no parking zone:
It is still a no parking zone today, but there is a new sign:
Biff in his car near another doorway:
Notice how the doorways match up:
Marty races up to the roof and the DeLorean:
Anthony heading up to the roof nearly 20 years later:
(actual location is on a road that continues south when Chino-Corona Road turns east near the town of Chino Hills.)
On the morning of our second day we woke up at our Chino Hills hotel and began our tour by visiting the filming site for Lyon Estates 1955. To see that we are in the right place, notice how the trees match up perfectly in the background of the first set of pictures. In the third set of pictures, where Marty is walking towards Hill Valley, notice the water tower that is faintly visible in the background, which matches up with the water tower in our picture.
(actual location is the Gamble House in Pasadena located at 4 Westmoreland Pl.)
We next hopped on the freeway and drove northwest to Pasadena to visit one of the coolest residences in the movie-- Doc Brown's Mansion. Today, the mansion is open for tours and Doc's Garage, which he ran over to with a bundle of papers, serves as a bookstore and gift shop.
Marty parks the DeLorean in 1955:
The road to Hill Valley as it looks today:
Marty looking into Lyon Estates development field:
Steve at the exact same location as the movie:
Marty walking back towards Hill Valley:
Brandon on the road towards Hill Valley:
Marty walking up the driveway to Doc's Mansion:
Steve visiting Doc's Mansion:
Doc running over to the garage with his papers:
Brandon outside of the garage:
Doc's Mansion at the start of Back to the Future III:
One final view of Doc's Mansion today:
(actual location is the Blacker-Hill House at 1177 Hillcrest Ave. in Pasadena.)
This house, which has the same architecture as Doc Brown's Mansion, was used for the scenes where Marty is knocking at Doc's front door and then talking to him. The front door does have a really fancy design. It took us a little extra searching to find this one. We actually gave up and drove away, but then reconsidered ten minutes later and went back to look some more.
Marty knocking at Doc's front door:
Doc's front door and porch hasn't changed since the movie:
(actual location is at 1711 Bushnell Ave. in South Pasadena.)
We next moved on to three of my favorite tour stops-- George McFly, Lorraine Baines, and Biff Tannen's Houses. Interestingly, all three of them live on the same street in South Pasadena. For George McFly's House, this is where he was visited several times by Marty, who tried to get him to ask Lorraine out to the dance.
(actual location is at 1727 Bushnell Ave. in South Pasadena.)
George hops in a tree here to be a "peeping tom". But Marty ends up being hit by the car and rests at Lorraine's house until he is better.
(actual location is at 1809 Bushnell Ave. in South Pasadena.)
Biff's House and the house he throws the kids ball onto are easy to find, a few doors away from both George and Lorraine.
Marty trying to convince George outside of his house:
Brandon & Anthony outside of George's house:
Full view of George McFly's house in the movie:
Full view of George McFly's house today:
George peeking into Lorraine's bedroom:
Steve standing directly below Lorraine's bedroom:
A long tree branch extends over the road:
A picture of the tree branch and Lorraine's house today:
(actual location is at the McCambridge Park Recreation Center at 1515 Glenoaks Blvd. in Burbank.)
Biff Tannen's house as it appeared in the movie:
Biff's house today with same rockwork and roof vent:
Marty spies on Biff to get the book back:
Steve outside of Biff's house:
The driveway Biff uses to get into his garage:
The driveway as it appears today:
Biff is mean to the kids and throws their ball onto the porch:
That same house is very close to Biff's house:
(actual location is at 535 N. Victory Blvd. in Burbank.)
Inside this recreation center is the filming location for the Battle of the Bands, which included Marty and his band The Pinheads. In this shot, they tried out their music material in front of the judges and got rejected.
If you'll recall, in the opening scene of the movie Marty blows out Doc's amplifier and realizes that the clocks are fast and that he's late for school. So he zooms out of Doc's lab on his skateboard, crosses the Burger King parking lot, and catches a ride down a busy street. The Burger King and parking lot where this scene was filmed are both still there. Doc's Lab was actually just a temporarily built facade in the parking lot, so it is now gone.
Looking back from the stage at the judges:
Notice the glass behind Steve is the same as in the movie:
Marty preparing to go up the stairs and perform:
Anthony preparing to go up on stage:
The Pinheads performing on stage:
People resting on the stage where Marty performed:
Marty leaving Doc's lab and entering the parking lot:
Doc's lab is gone, but the parking lot remains the same:
Skating across the sidewalk into the drive-thru:
Anthony & Brandon where Marty was skating:
Marty being pulled out onto Victory Blvd.:
The street as it appears over 20 years later:
(actual location is at the corner of Kagel Canyon & Sandusky in Pacoima.)
In Part I and III, Marty returns home by hurrying through the Lyon Estates sign. This location is just a few blocks away from Marty's House, but looking south. Of course, the Lyon Estates signs were just put there for the movie and then they were moved to the Universal Studios backlot. It is easiest to see that these locations match up by looking at the last two pictures down below. Notice the telephone poles on the left and the tall thin tree on the right. And on all the pictures notice the first two tree trunks on the right, as well as the street light, they are identical.
Marty returning to Lyon Estates in route to his house:
Marty heading through Lyon Estates back from the old west:
(actual location is at 9303 Roslyndale Ave. in Arleta.)
No doubt the holy grail for Back to the Future buffs, Marty's House was one of our favorite places to visit. Everything just seemed so familiar to us. We were fortunate enough to find nobody home and no cars in the driveway when we visited Marty's house.
The entrance to Lyon Estates as seen today:
Compare the street light and tall thin tree in both pics:
Marty finding out Biff crashed the family car:
The DeLorean heading out on Marty's street:
A close-up of Marty as he returns from the old west:
Marty running back up his driveway:
Biff just finishing the wax job on Marty's truck:
Same view of Marty's house as it appears today:
Marty's street is still very shady with lots of trees:
The same angle showing a close-up of Anthony:
Steve in front of Marty McFly's house:
The same porch overhang and rockwork today:
(actual location is on Placenta Canyon Rd. in Newhall, barely visible on Disney's Golden Oak Ranch from a turnout.)
Marty crashes into the barn of Twin Pines Ranch the very first time he arrives in 1955. There's not much to see at this location, just a long distance view from the road. But at least the upper back side is visible.
Marty crashes into the barn on Twin Pines Ranch:
The barn is barely visible from the road above:
(actual location is just past Keystone Ranch on Hwy. 120 where the railroad tracks turn away from the road)
On day three it was time to visit our favorite time period-- the old west. Our day started with a search for the location of the Hill Valley 1885 town site, the place where the town had once stood for the filming of the movie and for about six years after, until it was burned down in a fire caused by a lightning strike. To locate the town, we had received some general directions which allowed us to narrow the search area down to a few square miles in between the towns of Chinese Camp, Keystone & Yosemite Junction. We also knew that the location of the town had to be somewhere close to the railroad tracks that went through that area. And we had some photographs from Back to the Future III which would allow us to match up the hillsides in the background, to nail down the precise location. During our search, we stumbled across a local fire station outpost. Brandon went inside to talk to a firefighter that worked there, and he gave us some more specifics to help us find the town, including where to turn off the highway, where to park, and about how long the hike would be. His directions proved to be very helpful and we were soon out hiking along the actual railroad that was used in the filming of the movie. We followed the tracks for several miles and then turned back towards our car. We then went a little further past where our car was parked and found it-- Hill Valley 1885. It was fun walking through the town, even though there is almost nothing left of it except a few scattered boards.
Marty entering Hill Valley 1885 for the first time:
Compare the hills in the background to see a match:
Just above the Hill Valley sign at the train station:
Same view without the train station today:
Overview of the town as the camera rises:
Overview of the former town site today:
Doc hears the train whistle and looks back to the station:
Notice the gap in the background hills to see a match:
These next 4 pictures are not movie stills, we took them:
These wooden ruins are all that is left of Hill Valley 1885:
Evidence of the fire that destroyed the town is all over:
Steve hanging out in 1885:
(historic park located in Jamestown, northern California)
A visit to Railtown 1897 is a Back to the Future fan's dream come true. Railtown's Sierra No. 3 steam engine, other train cars, and the caboose were all used in the filming of the movie. You can still see all of these at Railtown today. Currently the Sierra No. 3 is somewhat taken apart and being stored in the roundhouse, awaiting restoration work which is expected to start soon. Several of the green train cars used in the movie are located in the roundhouse and outside. And the caboose is set up so you can actually stand on the back of it and get a great movie photograph. While we were here, we took a steam engine train ride for $8 which takes you across some of the same tracks that were used in the filming of the movie. It was really enjoyable and the volunteers who work at Railtown are great people who have a lot of knowledge and are happy to share stories and insights with you. Our guide told us that up until 1996 the trains would take you all the way into Hill Valley 1885. After it burned down, the trains would take you as far as Chinese Camp. And as of three years ago, the train ride (including the one we were on) now goes to the rock quarry. We had a great time at Railtown 1897 and hope to visit again someday.
The Sierra No. 3 was changed to No. 131 for the movie:
We found the Sierra No. 3 in bad condition in the shop:
The green train car as seen in the movie:
The green train car is on display at Railtown today:
The caboose from the movie is set up for photos:
Doc Brown trying to catch the caboose:
A sign near the caboose talks about the filming:
The movie poster is framed in two locations at Railtown:
(actual location is Observatory Tunnel in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.)
The River Road Tunnel was another highlight of the Back to the Future trip. We first visited it in January of 2009, while the locations before it were visited back in 2007. In the movie, Marty is riding his Hover Board while holding on to Biff's car. Biff catches him but Marty ends up with the book and escapes at the end of the tunnel.
(actual location is across the street from the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.)
The DeLorean starting line is located very close to the River Road Tunnel. We first tried to visit this location in 2007, but the park was closed due to wildfires. Thus, we returned in 2009 and visited both locations for the first time. This is where Doc drew a line across the street and told Marty to start driving the DeLorean in the first movie.
River Road Tunnel as it appears in the movie:
River Road Tunnel as it appears now during the day:
Marty is hiding in the back of Biff's car as they enter:
Steve with his Hover Board in the exact same spot:
Marty takes back the book and Biff chases him:
There are lights on the top of the tunnel like in the movie:
Biff driving like a madman through the tunnel:
Steve walking through the tunnel during the day:
The DeLorean starting line near the Bluebird Motel sign:
Steve and his Hover Board near the same tree and lamp post:
This photo shows the DeLorean starting line as it looks today:
A close-up of the tree and lamp post during our visit: