When you hear local SoCal denizens talk about “The Valley,” they’re always talking about the San Fernando Valley. This is the true home of many of the major TV and movie studios. (It’s also the reputed origin of valley girls, valley speak, and the teen shopping mall culture.)
Suburbs include Burbank, Sun Valley, North Hollywood, and the strangely underwhelming San Fernando.
One of the biggest draws of The Valley is the plethora of major movie and TV studios studding the landscape. Many of these offer tours to visitors who long to see the sets and behind-the-scenes actions of their favorite films and shows. A great place to start is the Warner Bros. Studio (3400 Riverside Dr, Burbank, 818/972-8687, www.wbstudiotour.com , VIP Tour $45/person). The tour lasts a little over two hours—you’ll ride in carts as you go from place to place through the vast spaces of the studio and back lot.
Making both movies and TV shows, the WB tour takes you backstage to the sets and scenes of current productions. You’ll also get to tour an array of historic sets, and you’ll wind up at the Warner Bros. memorabilia museum.
For an even more in-depth look at the inner workings of Warner Bros., check out the $150 Deluxe Tour, which lasts five full hours and includes lunch in the Commissary Fine Dining Room. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of one of your favorite stars from ER or Cold Case! The WB recommends that you purchase your tour tickets in advance—you can call or buy them on the website.
The tour at NBC Studios (3000 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, 818/840-3537, tours Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–3 p.m., adults $8.50, children $5) takes you into the wide and often obscure world of network television. Unlike the movie studios, NBC films live and daily shows every day—you’ll get to see the working sets of Days of Our Lives and The Tonight Show.
In addition, the network has preserved the legendary sets of classic TV shows for your viewing pleasure. Check out the tour-available areas for wardrobe, makeup, and set design. You’ll visit the real props and set construction departments. The NBC studio tour lasts just over an hour and requires you to walk for the bulk of the time.
If you want to be part of the action, show up early to stand in line for free tickets to The Tonight Show. Giveaways begin at 8 a.m. daily, or you can send away via snail mail six or more weeks in advance to guarantee yourself seats.