‘Veronica Mars’: Is Neptune, California a Real Place?

The setting for a TV series is almost as important as the characters in that show. Although many shows take place in a real city or town, there are plenty that feature a unique, fictional setting. Towns like Gilmore Girls‘ Stars Hollow or The Simpsons‘ Springfield are memorable places with their own unique characteristics. Another show with a truly unique setting was the mystery series, Veronica Mars. Neptune, California was a beautiful town, but is it a real place? 

Kristen Bell and Enrico Colantoni on 'Veronica Mars
(L-R) Enrico Colantoni as Keith Mars and Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars | Ron P. Jaffe/Getty Images

Kristen Bell was a teenage detective in ‘Veronica Mars’

Veronica Mars was a teen drama-mystery that started in 2004. The series ran for two seasons on UPN, before the network changed to The CW for its final season. The mystery was picked up by Hulu 12 years later and had a fourth season in 2019. The series followed the life of the title character, Veronica Mars, played by Kristen Bell. When the series begins, Veronica is a high school student who is adjusting to being ousted from the popular crowd at school.

After her father and sheriff Keith Mars, accused a powerful and wealthy businessman of murdering his daughter, Lily Kane, who was also Veronica’s best friend, they lose everything. Her father is fired from his job as sheriff, leaving the family with little money. Veronica’s mother walks out on them, ashamed of the disgrace and upset with the loss of income and change in their social status. Veronica’s friends at school turn on her, and she becomes an outcast.

After being ostracized and sexually assaulted, she hardens, becoming extremely bitter and cynical, growing to hate the citizens of her small town. She starts working for her father, who became a private investigator. In each season, Veronica investigates a mystery that begins in the premiere and ends in the finale. She also works on smaller cases that usually resolve in each episode. The fourth season, which aired on Hulu, was much shorter than the rest, being only eight episodes long. 

RELATED: ‘Veronica Mars’ Wasn’t Nearly As Dark As Creator Rob Thomas Planned

What was the setting of ‘Veronica Mars’?

Veronica Mars was set in Neptune, California. The town is quite small, yet home to numerous corporations, a hotel, a college, and its own baseball team and stadium, according to Yardbarker. The small town is located on the coast, with warm, sunny weather and beautiful beaches. The social classes in Neptune are quite odd, with most people being either very wealthy, working-class, or very poor.

The extreme differences in financial status make it difficult for students from different backgrounds to get along at high school. The people who run the largest businesses employ many of the people in the town, which gives them incredible power and control. Before the Mars family was disgraced, they were accepted by the wealthier members of the town, as being sheriff had a certain cachet in Neptune. After he loses that position, they are no longer a part of that circle, and their lives become much more difficult. 

Is Neptune, California a real place?

The town of Neptune is a fictional setting created solely for the series. The town is supposed to be located along the California coast, somewhere between San Diego and L.A. According to the show’s creator, Rob Thomas, the town is approximately 85 miles from San Diego, according to Bustle. Most of the filming for Veronica Mars took place in San Diego County. Oceanside High School was the exterior of Neptune High, while Veronica’s home is filmed in Point Loma. The Mars Investigation building is located on Adams Avenue in Normal Heights, and the grounds of several campuses in San Diego make up the fictional Hearst College.