Since 1977, movie fans have been enjoying the Star Wars film series. If you're a fan and want to see some of the places where the films were made or enjoy some California movie tourism with a Star Wars theme, this guide includes all things Star Wars in the state of California.
The Dune Sea and Jabba the Hutt's Sail Barge From Episode V: Return of the Jedi
The scene from Episode V: Return of the Jedi where Luke Skywalker tries to get Jabba the Hutt to set his friends free was filmed at California's Imperial Sand Dunes recreation area. This spot is sometimes erroneously listed as being in Yuma, Arizona which is the closest town.
The filming took place in an area called Buttercup Valley - a bowl-shaped depression with a sandy floor, surrounded by dunes on all sides. You need an off-road vehicle to get there and it's a 1.5-mile drive from the picnic and camping area.
For a while, Jabba the Hutt’s luxury sail barge was still out in the desert, but it’s now gone.
R2D2's Canyon From Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Many of the desert scenes in the Star Wars series were filmed in Tunisia, but California's Death Valley also features prominently as part of Tatooine in the first Star Wars films, especially Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
The location shown above is often called R2's Arroyo Overlook, which appears in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The canyon is also where R2 gets zapped by the Jawas. It's visible from the Artist's Palette overlook. Just park your car and walk up the slope near the restrooms and you'll see it below you.
Other Episode IV sites in Death Valley include the Sandcrawler Station, Bantha Canyon, Jawa Canyon, Mos Eisley Overlook, and the sand dunes of Tatooine. From Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, there's also the road to Jabba's Palace.
Forest Moon of Endor and Ewok Forest From Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
This location first appears in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. The second Death Star under construction orbits the Moon of Endor, which is home to those cute, furry little Ewoks.
The forest scenes were filmed in the redwood forests near Crescent City. The scene of the Ewok battle was leveled after the filming was finished, and M. D. Vaden thinks all of the forest area used in the film has now been cut down. But you can find very similar-looking surroundings in the Owen R Cheatham Grove in Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park.
Lucasfilm Headquarters and the Yoda Statue, San Francisco
Anyone can visit and Lucasfilm's 17-acres property at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio of San Francisco. They don't offer public tours, but you can see the Yoda Fountain and other fun, movie-related sculptures on the property.
The Letterman Digital Arts Center os at 1 Letterman Drive. You can get there using the PresidiGO Downtown bus or SFMTA bus #43. If you're driving, don't be intimidated by the parking lot security guard. Just drive up and tell them you want to see the grounds and they'll direct you to a parking place.
Lucasfilm's former location at Skywalker Ranch is located in Marin County and is not open to the public.
Stars Wars Cast on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
You can find several people associated with the Star Wars film along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They include:
- Harrison Ford: 6801 Hollywood Blvd, in front of the Hollywood at Highland complex. You might stumble on another Harrison Ford star at 6665 Hollywood Blvd, but that one belongs to a silent film star.
- Samuel L Jackson: 7018 Hollywood Blvd. Mace Windu in Episode III
- Alec Guinness: 1559 Vine St Vine Street on the west side, between Selma and Sunset. Ben 'Obi-Wan' Kenobi in episodes IV, V, VI
- Billy Dee Williams: 1521 Vine Street. Lando Calrissian in episodes IV, V, VI
- Dennis Muren: (Special effects for episodes I, II, IV, V, VI) 6764 Hollywood Blvd
- Liam Neeson
Star Wars Cast at Hollywood's Chinese Theatre
Hollywood's Chinese Theatre was the site of the premiere of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (which at that time was simply titled Star Wars) in 1977.
The iconic film palace is also famous for the handprints and footprints in its forecourts. The photo above shows the "hand" and "foot" prints of R2D2, C3PO, and Darth Vader, done in 1977. You'll also find prints from Samuel L Jackson who played Mace Windu in Episode III - Revenge of the Sith and Harrison Ford (Han Solo).
Star Tours Ride at Disneyland
Disneyland's Star Tours ride is based on the Star Wars film series. It's one of the most fun rides in the park, with a cute, themed area to walk through on your way to your spacecraft. It isn't long before your bumbling droid pilot lets things get out of control, jumps to light speed and careens through the universe.
The 3-D images are super-realistic and the technology allows for 54 different story sequences, enough to keep riders coming back again and again. You might even discover that you are the rebel spy that the ship is trying to take to safety.
Star Wars Miniland, San Diego
Legoland's "Minilands" are mostly based on real places, but they also have a model based on the Star Wars films. It includes a model of the Death Star and the famous trench run scene where Luke Skywalker maneuvers his X-Wing fighter through the combat zone to destroy the Death Star.
Guests can also create their own LEGO starships at building stations, while LEGO X-Wings, Tie Fighters, and Y-Wings circle overhead.
Star Wars Mural at Twentieth Century Fox and Other Locations
Twentieth Century Fox produced the original Star Wars films and has been the series' major distributor.
This mural is inside the 20th Century Fox Studios property, but it's visible through Motor Gate 1, which is near the intersection of Motor Avenue and W. Pico Blvd. in the Century City area of Los Angeles. Setting your GPS to 10093 W Pico Blvd will get you close.
More Sites in California
You’ll have to dig deep into your wallet to tour Steve Sansweet’s Rancho Obi-Wan near Petaluma. A visit requires a one-year membership and tour ticket that will set you back $100 per person, but you won’t find a more extensive collection of Star Wars memorabilia anywhere in the universe.