Sister Act movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Sister Act filmed?

1992

About Sister Act

Whoopi Goldberg is cast as Deloris Van Cartier in this great comedy, and she is probably the last person you’d think of as a nun. The Reno lounge singer is certainly no stranger to sin, and religion appears to play absolutely no part in her life.

But all that changes in a heartbeat when Deloris witnesses her mob boyfriend Vince LaRocca, played by Harvey Keitel, kill a chauffeur. Vince then orders his henchmen to kill Deloris too, but she makes a desperate escape to the Reno police station.

There, Lieutenant Eddie Souther (Bill Nunn) arranges for her to be placed in witness protection until she can testify against Vince. But there’s a big catch: Deloris must go into hiding at St Katherine’s, a convent in a seedy suburb of San Francisco, and pose as a nun named Sister Mary Clarence.

Upon arrival at her temporary home, Deloris is well and truly a fish out of water. Her previous lifestyle is completely at odds with the strict rules she must follow as a nun, and she quickly earns the disapproval of the head nun Reverend Mother (Maggie Smith).

But it’s not all bad news. Deloris makes friends with several of the other nuns, and after transforming the convent’s mediocre choir into a show-stopping sensation, the church starts to grow once again.

Just as things start looking up, however, Vince manages to track Deloris down in San Francisco. He’s desperate to silence her before she can testify and ensure that he’s locked up for life, but he doesn’t realize that Deloris now has many powerful allies. With Eddie and a troupe of nuns ready to defend her, Vince has no idea what he’s up against.

Released in 1992, Sister Act was followed by a 1993 sequel and even a musical adaptation. But even though it’s been three decades since the film’s release, it’s still entirely possible to check out several Sister Act locations in real life. Keep reading to find out how.

City Locations

San Francisco and Los Angeles, California; Reno, Nevada

Location Types

American, Apartment, Clubs/Bars, Police/Jails, Religious

Location Styles

Art Deco, Dilapidated/Neglected, Seedy

Sister Act Locations

Want to check out the filming location of Sister Act? You’ll need to start your adventure in Reno, which is where the first scenes in the film are set.

The so-called biggest little city in the world is home to the religious school Deloris attended as a child, which is actually St Thomas Aquinas Cathedral. It’s also where you can find Deloris’ apartment, the old post office building that was used for exterior shots of the Reno Police Department, and where scenes depicting Deloris’ lounge singing career were filmed.

Just like Deloris, you’ll then need to head to San Francisco to check out St Paul’s Catholic Church, which was the location chosen to feature as St Katherine’s. However, it’s worth mentioning that some of the interior scenes from Sister Act were filmed at First United Methodist Church in Los Angeles.

We’ve gathered the details of where a host of the best scenes in Sister Act were filmed (spoiler alert!), so keep reading to find out how you can track down these locations for yourself.

Fun fact:

It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Whoopi Goldberg as Deloris, but Bette Midler was originally cast in the lead role.

Young Deloris gets in trouble scene in Sister Act

Saint Thomas Aquinas Cathedral, 310 W 2nd St, Reno, NV

Sister Act gets underway with a trip back in time. The film opens at St Anne’s Academy in 1968, the religious school attended by a young Deloris.

However, it becomes clear pretty quickly that Deloris has little respect for the nuns tasked with giving her an education. “Who can name all the apostles?” a nun asks her class, and young Deloris’ hand shoots up straight away.

“John, Paul, George, and Ringo,” she smiles cheekily, much to the delight of her classmates. The nun, however, is far from amused. “Deloris Wilson, you are the most unruly, disobedient girl in this school,” she responds sternly, before telling Deloris her poor behavior will lead straight to the devil.

This Sister Act filming location is St Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno. You can find it at 310 West Second Street, more or less right in the heart of the city.

Deloris asks Vince to leave his wife scene in Sister Act

Deloris’ home, 195 N Virginia St, Reno, NV

Fast-forward to the present day and we learn that Deloris’ life is a mess. After performing to a disinterested crowd at the Moonlite Lounge, we see Deloris in her apartment with her boyfriend Vince. But Vince, we soon learn, is a married man, and Deloris is just his little something on the side.

“You still haven’t told me what she said,” Deloris says, and she’s less than happy when Vince tries to play dumb. “The one with the mustache, the one you’re married to,” she continues, but Vince’s evasiveness reveals that he hasn’t told his wife about his relationship with Deloris.

Vince swears he wants to be together with Deloris as an honest couple, and that he went to confession to tell a priest about his love for Deloris. Unfortunately, the priest’s response was less than accepting: “He said that if I got divorced I’d burn in hell for all eternity,” Vince claims.

Deloris’ Reno apartment is found at 195 North Virginia Street in Reno, just 0.2 miles from St Thomas Aquinas Cathedral which features in the scene above.

Deloris learns the truth about Vince scene in Sister Act

Former Reno Post Office, 50 S Virginia St, Reno, NV

Having witnessed a brutal murder and with Vince’s goons hot on her tail, Deloris flees in terror. She heads straight for the police station, where her whole world is about to be turned upside down.

A frazzled Deloris explains to the police about the murder, but they’re quick to point out that she is Vince’s girlfriend. “You realize he’s a major underworld figure, don’t you?” asks Eddie. Deloris is stunned to learn that Vince is involved in drug dealing and money laundering and has been under investigation by the police for 18 months.

“Apparently there’s a lot you don’t know about Vince,” Eddie continues. “I mean, the last two people that saw him in action kind of disappeared.” Deloris thought she was in love with Vince, but in truth, she didn’t know him at all.

The building exterior you see in the film isn’t actually Reno’s police department headquarters but is instead what was at the time the Reno Post Office. If you want to check out this pretty Art Deco building for yourself, you can find it at 50 South Virginia Street on the southern bank of the Truckee River.

Deloris arrives at the convent scene in Sister Act

St. Paul’s Catholic Church, 221 Valley St, San Francisco, CA

After finding out she’ll be sent to witness protection in the last place on earth Vince will think to look for her, Deloris is flown to San Francisco. There, we get our first look at the front of St Katherine’s, the convent where Deloris will hide out as Sister Mary Clarence.

“It’s the safest place in the world. You think Vince is going to look for you in a convent?” Eddie asks a skeptical Deloris. “You’re a lunatic. Put me in a damn convent with these people. These people don't even have sex!” she spits, storming out of the church.

The exterior of the church used as a Sister Act filming location is St Paul’s Catholic Church in San Francisco. You can find it at 221 Valley Street, just south of Dolores Heights, and you might be surprised to learn that the neighborhood certainly isn’t as seedy as it’s presented in the film.

Nun bar scene in Sister Act

Basgo’s Disco (now The Black Cat Restaurant), 3909 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

Adjusting to life in a convent is proving to be a whole lot easier said than done. The strict rules, the rigid routine, and the stern presence of Reverend Mother are all a lot for Deloris to take. And when it all gets too much, she decides to sneak out late at night to the bar across the street.

It’s a pretty rough place, and the sight of a nun strolling in through the front door attracts plenty of bemused chuckles. A couple of bar goers try to intimidate her, but Deloris is in her element and quickly puts them in her place before ordering a beer. But as she sits at the bar and enjoys the music, feeling the best she has since she arrived at St Katherine’s, little does Deloris know that Sister Mary Robert (Wendy Makkena) and Sister Mary Patrick (Kathy Najimy) have followed her to the bar.

Dismayed, she tries to get rid of them, but the naive nuns believe Deloris is in the bar to do God’s work. And when Sister Mary Patrick enthusiastically takes to the dance floor, Deloris can’t help but smile, but she eventually shepherds her friends out the door.

“If this turns into a nun’s bar, I’m outta here,” says one customer to another as the three women exit.

This film shoot location for the scene at Basgo’s Disco was 3909 West Sunset Boulevard in the Silver Lake neighborhood of LA. As you can see, that’s quite a long way away from where St Katherine’s is located in San Francisco.

The nuns fly to Reno to rescue Deloris scene in Sister Act

Reno Arch, 345 N Virginia St, Reno, NV

Deloris was horrified when she found out she’d be spending witness protection in a convent, but little did she know that her time in the nunnery would help her make lifelong friends. After Vince kidnaps Deloris and Sister Mary Robert, Deloris helps her meek and mild friend escape.

Meanwhile, the rest of the nuns are stunned to learn the truth about the woman they know as Sister Mary Clarence. “Why would anyone kidnap a nun?” asks a confused Sister Mary Patrick. “She isn’t a nun,” responds a dejected Reverend Mother. “She’s a lounge singer. Her real name is Deloris Van Cartier. She witnessed a vicious crime and has been hiding in our convent.”

At first they’re shocked to learn Deloris’ true identity, but then they vow to do whatever they can to help her. United, the nuns decide to go to Reno, where Vince is taking Deloris, and rescue their friend. After guilting a helicopter pilot into getting them there, they race through the streets of Reno to find the Moonlite Lounge, stopping traffic as they run across the road in front of the Reno Arch.

The famous Reno Arch, on which the city’s slogan (“The biggest little city in the world”) can be seen, is found at 345 North Virginia Street. It’s well worth stopping by to grab a photo if you’re ever spending a day or three as a tourist in Reno.

Conclusion

Sister Act was one of the more popular comedies released in the early 1990s, and it’s easy to see why. Goldberg is excellent in the lead role, while the supporting cast of nuns deliver plenty of laughs and memorable moments. Throw in a few show-stopping musical numbers and you’ve got all the ingredients for a great movie.

So, if you’re wild about Whoopi or you just love all things Sister Act, why not get out and explore some of the film’s iconic settings in person? From Reno to San Francisco, there’s no shortage of interesting Sister Act locations to explore.