Going Back to the Future

Back to the Future is considered by many to be one of the best movies ever made. Besides a great story-line, the film is full of endearing characters, great comedic moments, adventure and it’s a movie that never fails to entertain me. I love visiting filming locations and I was in the perfect place to visit the best BTTF spots, Los Angeles.

DeLorean from BTTF – Petersen Museum

Universal studios featured an awesome Back to the Future ride for years at most of their parks until they finally retired the last one in Japan a few years ago. However, you’ll find the real DeLorean in Los Angeles at the Petersen Auto museum. The car was on display at the Universal Studios Hollywood Park for years before getting a complete restoration and a new home. The retro-futuristic automobile is one of three used in the film and became an iconic symbol of the 80s after Back to the Future screened. The original script utilized a refrigerator as a time machine, but the writers decided to switch to the DMC-12 when the founder of DeLorean was embroiled in drug charges. The controversial auto made for a much more interesting choice in the script and the rest is history. The museum is full of lots of other great movie cars besides Doc Brown’s time machine.

The Courthouse Square at Universal Studios, LA

Some of the most iconic scenes of the movie  were filmed in Universal Studios Hollywood lot. You can visit the famous clock tower and square used for scenes from the first two movies on the backlot tour. The building and square have  been “repurposed” for other films, but it’s still very obvious if you’ve seen the movie more than once.

Marty McFly’s home in BTTF
Photo- Bill Wiatrak

Marty McFly’s house is in a quiet neighborhood built in the 50s at 9303 Roslyndale. The location was chosen because of the huge electrical tower directly behind the house and the date the home was built. In the original script, the writers planned on using electricity from the pylon to power the time machine. The script was changed to use the clock tower instead (at the exact moment lightning struck). Marty still had to return to his home in the past, so the location still worked with the timeline and remained in the film. The real life neighbor to the left is named Joan and lived there through the filming of all three movies. She is happy to chat with fans and even had fliers printed with pictures of the actors taken behind the scenes that she might share with you if you ask her nicely.

The Gamble House- aka Doc Bown’s Home
photo- Bill Wiatrak

Doc Brown’s home (in the 1950s) is actually a well known historical home built by the architectural firm Greene and Greene called The Gamble House. It’s at 4 Westmoreland, Pasadena. It hasn’t changed much since the filming, but as most of the other locations, only the exterior was used in the movie. To the right is a bookstore that also appeared in the movie. You can pick up a BTTF license plate as well as architecture and art books.

Claudia Wells at her store Armani Wells
photo- Bill Wiatrak

Remember Jennifer Parker? You might have noticed there were two actresses that played the role, Claudia Wells was in the first film and Elizabeth Shue took over the role in the sequels. Claudia has a high end used clothing shop called Armani Wells in Studio City. She’s often running the store and is as friendly and sweet as you could possibly hope for. She keeps some movie memorabilia in her shop and loves to talk about her pop culture adventures as well as sell you some amazing clothing. There’s not many gifts as cool as buying someone a tie from Marty McFly’s girlfriend.

Biff Tannen’s House
photo- Bill Wiatrak

On Bushnell street in Pasadena, you can visit George McFly’s home (1711) as well as Biff’s(1809) and Lorraine’s (1727). They’re all within a block of each other. The iconic tree where George was watching Lorraine with binoculars is still there. The owners of the homes are surprisingly courteous. You’d think after 35 years of oglers, their patience might be running thin, but the ones I met couldn’t have been nicer. Of course you shouldn’t walk in their yards without an invitation and leave the binoculars at home.

The tunnel from Back to the Future- Griffith Park

Griffith Park has been used in countless films and boasts a couple famous scenes in Back to the Future. The starting line for Marty when he’s trying to get the Delorean up to 88 mph is located in the park. Even more recognizable is the tunnel from the scene when Biff is chasing him as he tries to escape on his hover board. Traffic is usually too busy to recreate that moment, but it looks the same as you drive through it. Griffith Park is at 4730 Crystal Springs Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027. It’s worth visiting the top as well to see the filming locations of James Dean’s Rebel Without a Cause.

My “dead photo” in the spot where Marty gets hit by a car
photo-Bill Wiatrak

This DIY tour is probably enough to satisfy most fan’s appetites, but if you’d like to visit the Twin Pines/Lone Pine mall, McFly’s high school or even the Burger King from the first movie, this site has all the addresses.

Looking for something fun to do on July 3, 2020? It’s the 35th anniversary of Back to the Future. Check out a few of these spots. You won’t be alone.

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