City of Angels movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was City of Angels filmed?

1998

About City of Angels

What if angels walked among us, watching over us? Even better, what if one of those angels was Nicolas Cage, a man perhaps most famous for appearing in as many wonderful films as he has terrible ones?

These questions are asked and answered in the 1998 romantic fantasy City of Angels, which casts Cage alongside Meg Ryan. The film is set in Los Angeles, where we meet the angels who watch over the people of this massive metropolis.

Seth (Cage) and his partner Cassiel (Andre Braugher) are the angels responsible for ushering people close to death into the afterlife. But angels don’t have human feelings, so they struggle to understand what it’s like to be an earthly being. These celestial guardians are also invisible to the human eye, which is a big problem if you’re an angel who happens to fall in love with a human.

But that’s exactly what happens to Seth when he meets Maggie (Ryan), a dedicated heart surgeon he first lays eyes upon as she battles desperately to save the life of a patient. Without fully understanding why Seth soon becomes infatuated with Maggie and follows her everywhere. And when he becomes visible to her, sparks soon fly.

Seth would do just about anything to experience real human romance with Maggie — and he’s about to find out what's possible. When he meets Nathaniel (Dennis Franz), a mortal who used to be an angel, he learns that it’s possible to become human. Making the enormous decision to give up his mortality, Seth tracks down Maggie at her uncle’s cabin in Lake Tahoe, and the two fall madly in love.

But can an angel with no experience of what it’s like to be human make it work with his one true love? And will this love story have a happy ending?

If you want to check out the filming location of City of Angels for yourself, we’ve got good news for you: there are several settings from memorable scenes in the film (details below — spoiler alert!) that you can easily find in LA and around California. Keep reading for details on where they are.

City Locations

Los Angeles, California

Location Types

Cabins, House, NatureScapes, Airports, Diners/Coffee, Hospitals/Medical,

Location Styles

Cabin, Construction, Lake House

City of Angels Locations

You don’t have to be an LA local to know that there were plenty of scenes shot in the city that shares a nickname with this movie. From iconic film shoot locations like Johnie’s Coffee Shop on Wilshire Boulevard, to sites like the city’s freeways and even Grand Central Market, you’ll recognize many City of Angels locations when you tour LA in person.

However, not all of the best scenes in City of Angels were shot in Los Angeles. The scene of the angels on the beach, for example, was filmed near Malibu, while the library scenes were filmed in the San Francisco Public Library. Lake Tahoe also makes an appearance, so there’s a diverse range of locations on offer.

Finally, the quiet road where Maggie meets her untimely demise is found in Crestline, which is roughly 70 miles’ drive east of downtown LA.

If you’d like to check out some of the best City of Angels locations for yourself, here’s how to find them.

Fun fact:

Alanis Morrissette and alternative rock band The Goo Goo Dolls both wrote songs specifically for the film. The Goo Goo Dolls track Iris became a global hit, reaching number nine on the Billboard Hot 100.

Angels gather on the beach scene in City of Angels

Nicholas Canyon 33850 CA-1, Malibu, CA

Seth is undergoing something of an existential crisis. As far as he knows, angels aren’t human and never can be, but he can’t help but wonder what it would be like to experience touch and other human sensations.

He shares his concerns with Cassiel as they wander along a pretty beach, telling him about the little girl who he’s recently guided from life on earth into the afterlife. The little girl asked for wings, and Cassiel responds that humans always want wings. All Seth can do, Cassiel says, is tell the people he helps as they die the truth.

Seth shares what the little girl told him when she learnt the truth about angels: “She said, ‘What good would wings be if you couldn’t feel the wind on your face?’” Turning his face to the setting sun, Seth then gazes out across a beach dotted with other angels.

The beach in this scene is Nicholas Canyon Beach, which is found just off the Pacific Coast Highway a little under 10 miles west of Malibu. It’s a popular spot for swimming and surfing and well worth checking out on any California road trip.

Seth and Maggie meet at the library scene in City of Angels

San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA

There’s something about Maggie that just makes her impossible to forget. Without quite knowing why, Seth can’t help but be mesmerized by the beautiful and charming doctor, and he starts following her every move. Before long, he becomes visible to her, much to his surprise and delight, and they have an instant connection.

Seth is also thrilled to run into Maggie at the library. She’s a little weirded out by his odd demeanor and intensity, but it’s clear there’s something about him she likes too.

Maggie asks what he does, and Seth says he’s a messenger. “What kind of messenger, like a bike messenger?” Maggie asks. “No, I’m a messenger of God,” Seth responds earnestly.

This scene was filmed at San Francisco Public Library at 100 Larkin Street, right in the heart of the city. Step inside and you’ll instantly recognize the unique design and layout from the areas shown on-screen in the film.

Nathaniel tells Seth he can become mortal scene in City of Angels

Johnie’s Coffee Shop (Bernie’s Coffee Shop), 6101 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

Seth would do anything to find out what it’s like to be human, and he’s about to find out that’s entirely possible. Nathaniel, one of Maggie’s patients, has a shocking revelation for him: angels can become human if they want, but they must be willing to give up their immortality.

At a late-night diner, while he tucks into a feast fit for a king, Nathaniel reveals that he was once an angel but he made the decision to become human. “Liste, kid: He gave these bozos the greatest gift in the universe. You think He didn’t give it to us to?” Nathaniel says. And when Seth asks which gift, Nathaniel’s answer is simple: “Free will.”

This City of Angels filming location is Johnie’s Coffee Shop, at 6101 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. A much-loved example of the Googie architectural style, Johnie’s stopped operating as a coffee shop and restaurant in 2000 and is now used solely as a filming location.

Seth and Maggie meet in the park scene in City of Angels

Elysian Park, Los Angeles, CA

Now that he knows he can become human, Seth is faced with an extremely difficult choice. Is it worth giving up his immortality and everything he knows to experience the joy and pain of being human?

While he grapples with this quandary, he visits Maggie in the park, where she’s playing fetch with her dog. She’s clearly excited and a little nervous to see him, but the two soon become comfortable with one another as Seth asks her about love.

Before long, Maggie admits that Seth has intrigued her. “I wait all day just hoping for one more minute with you, and I don’t even know you,” she says. She wants to get to know him better, and she wants to know whether he’s married or homeless, and why he wears the same clothes all the time.

But Maggie has one question that stops Seth in his tracks: “Why don’t you ever touch me?” Seth says he doesn’t want to hurt her, but Maggie responds that he won’t. She then steps closer and the two share a tender kiss.

This pretty urban park used as this City of Angels filming location is Elysian Park, which is found next to Dodger Stadium just a few miles north of the LA city center. This 600-acre park is a popular spot for picnicking and hiking, or just soaking up some LA sunshine.

Falling scene in City of Angels

Bank of America Center, Los Angeles, CA

Now that he knows he can become mortal, Seth is sorely tempted to give up everything just so he can be with Maggie. But it’s a huge, life-changing step, and one he won’t take without a little extra motivation.

He gets that when Maggie comes to visit him at the library to tell him she doesn’t want him in her life anymore. “I want somebody who can feel my hand when I touch him,” a tearful Maggie says. “I want to say goodbye. I don’t want to see you again,” she says, leaving Seth devastated.

If he wants to be a part of Maggie’s life, Seth knows he simply has no other choice than to become human. He heads for a rooftop construction site on a skyscraper, and after gazing out over the city, he walks slowly to the edge. Arms outstretched, he steps into the void, and we see him falling to earth in slow motion.

The backdrop for this scene was the Bank of America Center in downtown LA, and it was filmed using a blue screen. You can find the building on South Hope Street in downtown LA.

Maggie dies scene in City of Angels

Old Mill Road in Crestline, CA

Having finally slept together, Seth and Maggie are truly, madly, deeply in love. While Seth indulges in another of the many joys of being human — a hot shower — Maggie heads to a nearby store on her bike.

Riding home along a winding country road, Maggie is having a great time. With her arms outstretched and a look of contentment on her face, she closes her eyes and almost feels like she’s flying. She may be riding a bike but she’s also daydreaming blissfully — so blissfully in fact that she fails to notice the enormous logging truck pulling out onto the road in front of her until it’s too late.

Sensing that something terrible has happened, Seth races to the scene of the accident. There, he’s devastated to find Maggie lying on the road, near death. “Someone’s out there,” Maggie says, gazing beyond Seth. Realizing she can see an angel ready to guide her to the other side, Seth begs her not to look at them, but it’s too late.

“When they ask me what I liked the best, I’ll tell them it was you,” Maggie whispers just before she dies.

This tragic scene was filmed on Old Mill Road in Crestline, California. You can find it off Highway 138 about 70 miles east of downtown LA.

Conclusion

A love story for the ages, City of Angels is an entertaining watch. It may be slightly corny for some tastes, but the chemistry between Cage and Ryan, and the tale of Cage’s ultimate sacrifice, is memorable viewing.

What’s even better is that you can check out some of the most iconic City of Angels locations for yourself. From Los Angeles and San Francisco to Malibu, several of the best settings in the film are easy to find in California. If you’re a movie buff or just a fan of anything Nic Cage-related, be sure to check these City of Angels sites out in person.