When James and I were first planning where to go for our September holiday, James was torn between California and India (#firstworldproblems). The idea of going on a Buffy and Angel LA tour really sealed the deal for the Golden State. James has always been a HUGE Buffy fan and it must be contagious because since first watching Buffy three or four years ago, I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve re-watched all seven seasons. Living alone, I watch a lot of TV in the background as I’m pottering around the house. I take so much comfort in the familiarity of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and I will forever wish Willow was a real person so she could be my best friend!
We spent a full day driving around Los Angeles looking at Buffy sets – some more central to the plot than others. There are a lot of Buffy sights to see, but we picked a handful of the best ones, listed below in chronological order in case you want to do your own Buffy and Angel LA tour!
Santa Monica Pier (Angel)
Address: 350 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica
Santa Monica Pier only gets a short amount of screen time in Angel, but this is where we started our Buffy and Angel LA tour. It is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Los Angeles. The carousel on the pier is where Gunn and Fred went looking for vampires in the Angel episode “Loyalty” and Gunn and Fred also took Connor to the nearby beach in the episode “Benediction.”
Sunnydale High School (Buffy)
Address: 2200 W. Carson Street, Torrance
Sunnydale High School must be the most iconic set in the whole series. They shoot in here a lot in seasons 1 to 3 and whenever I’m watching with friends we can’t go 10 minutes without me interrupting with an excited “I was there!!” The school is actually Torrance High School, and the corridors, exterior, and inner courtyard are all real-life features (sadly not the library.)
We visited on a weekend, found the gate open and had a peek inside – although I have read posts from people who have successfully contacted the school and asked for an official tour. There were builders on site at the time and if they did notice us then they didn’t mind seem to mind. I don’t recommend doing this when there are children in school, for obvious reasons! It was so, so surreal to be walking up those stairs where Xander crashes into the railings after seeing Buffy on the first episode, and walking down the corridor where Giles lectures the rest of the gang.
Buffy’s House (Buffy)
Address: 1313 Cota Drive, Torrance
The Summers house is conveniently only a short walk from the school in Torrance. Real people actually live there so we didn’t want to linger for too long, but I did manage to get a couple of photos of James outside. In the beginning of Buffy, the interior of the house was used for filming, but they reconstructed the set in the lot at Santa Monica after the residents of Torrance grew tired of the film crews. Rumour has it that the explosion that destroys the school in Season 3 was scheduled for the early evening but, as filming ran late, it happened at 2am and pissed off the neighbourhood. Shots of the exterior are used throughout all seven seasons – although the front yard has changed quite a bit, now 14 years after filming finished!
Wolfram and Hart (Angel)
Address: Sony Pictures Plaza, 10202 W. Washington Boulevard, Culver City
The evil corporate law office from Angel is actually the Sony Pictures Plaza in Culver City. A business complex in Thousand Oaks is used for the interior scenes, and some exterior shots in Season 5 are from the Arco Center Towers in Long Beach. This building is definitely the most recognizably Wolfram and Hart.
Sunnydale Cemetery (Buffy)
Address: Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, 1831 W. Washington Boulevard, West Adams District
Take note: the cemetary closes at 5pm!
Most of the graveyard scenes in Buffy were actually shot in the car park of the Santa Monica Studio lot, where the filmmakers erected fake gravestones. All the wide wide-angled shots of Sunnydale Cemetary however, were filmed here in, I kid you not, Angelus Cemetery. I wonder whether the name inspired the choice of cemetery, or the name of the cemetery inspired Angel’s name? The mix of palm trees and gravestones made me feel very much like I was in Sunnydale. I would have liked more time to wander around and look at headstones, but we arrived late and were kicked out promptly at 5pm.
Address: The Los Altos Hotel and Apartments, 4121 Wilshire Blvd, Hollywood
The hotel where Angel and the rest of the Angel Investigations team lived is, in fact, the Los Altos Hotel. Some interior scenes were shot in the Ambassador Hotel but the exterior and the courtyard is definitely the Los Altos. This place feels very Old Hollywood, which I suppose is what the directors were going for. The Courtyard was deserted and the gates were open when we visited on a Sunday evening, so we were free to wander around and recall scenes of Angel brooding amongst the plants.
Angel’s Mansion (Buffy)
Address: Ennis House, 2607 Glendower Avenue
The mansion where Angel lives in Season 2 with Drusilla and Spike (and by himself in Season 3) is actually the Ennis House in the Hollywood Hills. The interior was recreated as a studio lot in the set, but the exterior shots in Buffy are from the house itself. The house was built by Frank Lloyd Wright and is a national landmark, currently owned by Ronald Burkle (inspiration for Winifred Burkle’s character perhaps?!) It’s up a narrow and windy street in the Hills and it’s particularly hard to park. The area is very wealthy and we had some disapproving looks as we were taking photos on the street, although no one asked us to leave. If you wanted to go inside, there are also official tours of the house on offer.
Griffith Observatory (Angel)
Address: 2800, East Observatory Road
Okay, so the Griffith Observatory is only briefly featured in Angel but it’s so near Angel’s Mansion, you might as well visit whilst you’re there. There’s a scene in the episode “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been,” in the second season filmed here. It’s the 1950s episode, with flashbacks to Angel’s past, living in the Hyperion Hotel for the first time. The Observatory has brilliant views across the whole of LA and the Hollywood sign. I highly recommend finishing your tour here to watch the sun set.
Other Buffy Spots
There are lots of other spots that we didn’t get a chance to see. Here are some of the next best in case you want to include them in your own Buffy and Angel LA tour:
Town Hall (office of the Mayor from Season 3)
Address: 15411 Crenshaw Blvd, Torrance
The Library of UC Sunnydale
Address: Powell Library on the UCLA campus
Church in “Who Are You”, Season 4.
Address: Church of the Angels, 1100 Avenue 64, Pasadena
Xander and Anya’s apartment
Address: 844 S. Plymouth Boulevard
Glory’s Apartment (Season 5)
Address: The Castle Green Apartments, 99 S. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena
The Factory (home of the Master, the Order of Aurellius and Spike and Drusilla in Seasons 1 and 2)
Address: Willow Street and South Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles
Kingmann’s Bluff, the hill where Angel tries to kill himself in “Amends” and where evil Willow raises the Temple of Proserpexa in the Season 6 finale “Grave”
Address: Angel Gate Park, San Pedro