The Guide to Spotting a Celebrity in LA

Like swarms of bees searching for nectar, packs of paparazzi travel across Los Angeles day and night in search of that next buzzworthy shot of popular celebrities. The encounter might be as ordinary as a celebrity buying groceries, or as rare as a global superstar having a romantic date night at the beach. Witnessing the paparazzi portion of the star-making cycle is an authentic L.A. experience.

The rich and famous people who live in L.A. may go to great lengths to protect their privacy, but the paparazzi have uncovered their favorite public haunts. If you’d like to know how to meet a celebrity in Los Angeles, check out some of the best paparazzi star-stalking spots in the city.

LAX  |  Photo: Gustavo Turner

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

If it weren’t for the arrivals terminals at LAX, the celebrity-gotcha show TMZ wouldn’t have a broadcast. While most popular celebrities at airports hide in private airline clubs pre-flight, they must mingle with the public post-flight at the baggage terminals. If you don’t happen upon an encounter, then head to Terminal 3 on the lower/arrivals level, where public art shows are often staged.

The Ivy Patio

The Ivy

The Ivy is a charming cottage that’s one of L.A.'s best celebrity dining scenes, though not for the food. The attention-hungry frequently sit on the front patio, where only a white picket fence separates them from prying lenses. The paps snap their full-length shots of the rich and famous as they wait curbside for valet parking attendants to retrieve their expensive wheels. Passers-by have been known to snag autographs from the likes of George Clooney and Jennifer Aniston.

Chateau Marmont

The legendary Sunset Strip is a 1.5-mile stretch of clubs, boutiques and restaurants between Crescent Heights and Doheny Drive. The Strip is regularly packed with cavorting stars - paparazzi can snap most famous celebrities checking into the exclusive Chateau Marmont, or dining at restaurants like The Eveleigh, BOA Steakhouse and Sushi Park. The Strip has become a favorite haunt of famous people of California because many live in the Hollywood Hills and Laurel Canyon, two exclusive enclaves above Sunset Boulevard.

Carbon Beach  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Carbon Beach

The stretch of Malibu beach that runs from Carbon Canyon Road to the Malibu Pier is known by locals as Billionaires' Beach. The richest of the rich, including music mogul David Geffen, Oracle’s Larry Ellison and media proprietor Haim Saban own mansions that sit on the sand. These Malibu celebrity homes are some of the priciest on the Pacific. The public - and professional photographers - can access the beach via walkways at 22132 and 22664 Pacific Coast Highway.

Studio City Farmers Market | Photo: Studio City Farmers Market

Studio City Farmers Market

The irresistible combination of celebrities with their babies attracts many long lenses to the action at the Studio City Farmers Market. The Sunday morning gathering spot is the preferred choice of stars who live and work near the area’s film studios. Those with families can often be seen taking their children to the market’s petting zoo and pony rides. So if you’ve ever wondered where celebrities live and hang out, this is a secret gem.

TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX | Photo: TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX

TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX

Not every paparazzo earns a paycheck with the kind of candid shots that wind up in gossipy tabloids. Many make a living along the sidelines of red carpets that are set up at restaurant openings, fundraisers and film premieres. When stars have a new movie to promote, they’re happy to pose on the red carpet at their premieres. TCL Chinese Theatre remains one of the most popular locations in Los Angeles for premieres, and one of the best spots where the public and the paparazzi can catch a glimpse of film stars arriving at a glamorous event.

Tropicana Pool at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

The Hollywood Roosevelt

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is not only one of the most iconic and trendy Hollywood celebrity hotels, but also a favorite hangout for celebrities. You might see a star at the Library Bar adjacent to the lobby, poolside at the Tropicana Bar, or celebrating at a wrap party at Teddy's or Beacher's Madhouse, two of the popular clubs at the hotel. Public Kitchen and Bar, located on the first floor, is also where you might catch one of your favorite celebrities enjoying a meal.

Malibu Country Mart | Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Malibu Country Mart

When the famous want to shop somewhere relaxed and casual, they head to the Malibu Country Mart, an outdoor shopping center with 65 boutiques, galleries and restaurants. While celebrities pick up toys, designer jeans and jewelry, locals buy their coffee, cosmetics and everyday (but pricey) clothes. At the sandy playground and picnic area, Malibu moms and surfer dudes alike discuss neighborhood news. Located near Pepperdine University, the Malibu Pier and mega-mansions of the fabulously rich, the Malibu Country Mart is Malibu’s defacto downtown, which make it a great place for star sightings.

The Chris McMillan Salon | Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

The Chris McMillan Salon

There’s a reason Chris McMillan is called a “celebrity hairstylist.” Not only is he responsible for Jennifer Aniston’s famed “Rachel” haircut that inspired a nation of followers, but he is also a celeb himself, appearing on reality shows like Extreme Makeover and serving as a columnist for Allure Magazine. The stars keep on coming to his airy Beverly Hills salon, and the paparazzi keep on following them.

The Grove | Photo: The Grove

The Grove

With a dancing fountain, a vintage trolley car and dozens of stores, restaurants and movie screens, The Grove is shopping as fantasy entertainment. Maybe it’s the concierge service that attracts stars to the outdoor mall, or perhaps it’s the valet parking. Or maybe it’s the chance to slip next door to the Original Farmers Market, a funky warren of open-air restaurants and stalls that’s as steadfastly authentic as The Grove is glossy. And yes, that is Paris Hilton chowing down with her BFFs.

Fred Segal | Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Fred Segal

For more than 40 years, the ivy-covered building at the corner of Melrose Avenue and Crescent Heights Boulevard has been destination shopping for the trend-obsessed. Like a deconstructed department store, the cluster of individual boutiques inside Fred Segal is one-stop star shopping. There are entire boutiques offering the necessities of the famous: sunglasses, beauty products, lingerie and wildly original home décor. The open parking lot is equally enticing to the stars and the paparazzi alike - the stars like that it’s steps from the door, while the photographers like that the stars have to traverse the lot, giving them great access.