When I was a kid, I often dreamed that Julie Andrews would whisk me away to my rightful place on a European throne. I blame Anne Hathaway.
In her breakout role, the young Hathaway plays Mia Thermopolis—an awkward, socially invisible high schooler living in the Excelsior District who finds herself next in line for the Genovian throne. According to Teen Vogue, the film represents a defining moment for an entire generation. I can relate.
The Princess Diaries was my go-to sleepover movie. In the angsty weeds of childhood, Mia was my imaginary ally—the bestie I could count on as we scootered down Brazil Avenue and talked smack about Lana (the bullying cheerleader played by Mandy Moore).
Like other zany family comedies set in San Francisco around the turn of the millennium—Mrs. Doubtfire, George of the Jungle and Dr. Doolittle among them—it portrayed the city a magical and quirky place. There were sweeping bay views everywhere you turned, bay windows on every home and cable cars cresting the top of every hill. As a child of the Bay Area, I was keenly aware that The Princess Diaries was set in my backyard, which only amplified the power that the film had over me.
Now, 21 years after the iconic coming-of-age Disney film was released, the third installment in the franchise is finally in the works. As we all wait for more details to emerge, I decided to pass the time by scoping out four notable locations from the San Francisco fairytale.
Lana Gets Coned
📍2601 Lyon St. | Marina District
Mia realizes her inner self-confidence when she stands up to her high school bully, Lana, smothering the cheerleader’s crisp white uniform with a chocolate ice cream cone. As her classmates chant, “Lana got coned! Lana got coned!” a pre-Grey’s Anatomy Sandra Oh (portraying Principal Gupta) shrugs: “Send it out for dry cleaning!”
While Grove High School isn’t real, the exterior film location of the high school is a real-life private residence on Lyon Street.
The Queen and the Corn Dog
📍The Cliff House | Outer Richmond
Mia takes her royal grandmother on a tour of her favorite spots in the city, including a corn dog stand overlooking the water. In an attempt to bond with her granddaughter, Julie Andrews as Queen Clarisse disguises her disgust. “Let’s get another one then!” Mia exclaims happily.
You might not find a corn dog vendor near the cliffs overlooking Sutro Baths, but you can still take in the view and relive a memory of grandmotherly love.
Mustang vs. Cable Car
📍Broadway and Taylor Street | Russian Hill
Unlike Steve McQueen’s supercharged GT Fastback, Mia’s blue Mustang convertible is no match for the steep slopes of San Francisco. While driving unlicensed with her grandmother, the car rolls backwards downhill right into a cable car. Thankfully, Grandma Clarisse wields her queenly charm to get them out of the jam.
📍724 Brazil Ave. | Excelsior District
Sliding down the fire pole to her kitchen is part of Mia’s morning routine as she gets ready for school. You can find the decommissioned fire station that served as the establishing shot of Mia’s home in the Excelsior District.