Palm trees, endless summers, and forever beach days aside, many people flock to Los Angeles with the hope of spotting someone famous. While Hollywood Boulevard is flooded with tourists on any given day, you’re more likely to spot your favorite celebrity’s name on a star on the Walk of Fame than in person - unless, of course, you happen to be in town during a Hollywood movie premiere or Awards Season.
It may surprise you to learn that your chances of spotting a celebrity are greater if you do things that normal people do in the city in which they live – dine out, shop, grab a cup of coffee or enjoy the great outdoors. It’s true, you’re more likely to spot a celeb at Starbucks than you are in the heart of Hollywood.
If you want to increase your chances of a celebrity sighting while visiting LA, put on your paparazzi hat because we’ve got your guide to the best places to spot a celebrity in the City of Angels.
Contrary to popular belief, stars aren’t always hanging out at old school celebrity hangouts like The Polo Lounge and The Ivy. If you want to catch a star in public, hiking Runyon Canyon (92000 N. Fuller Ave., Los Angeles 90046) is one of the best places in LA for encountering the rich and famous. If you want to spot a celebrity while also getting some exercise, lace up and head out to Runyon Canyon.
Opened in September 2021, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (6067 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles 90036) houses more than 13 million objects in a 300,000 square-foot campus designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Renzo Piano.
The museum hosts numerous events with celebrity guests, from Q&As at screenings to book signings, like recent programs with legendary auteur John Waters as part of the current retrospective exhibition, John Waters: Pope of Trash.
Musso & Frank Grill
One of the most legendary dining spots in Los Angeles is Hollywood’s oldest restaurant, Musso & Frank Grill (6667 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood 90028). Sit in one of the restaurant’s large red booths and order a Martini and steak while you wait on your favorite celeb to walk through the doors. Famous fans include Quentin Tarantino, who featured Musso's prominently in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (7000 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles 90028) is not only one of LA’s most famous hotels, but it's been a hangout for generations of celebrities, having hosted its share of famous guests in its Spanish Colonial Revival rooms. You might see a star at the Lobby Bar, relaxing at the Tropicana Pool & Cafe, or partying at The Spare Room. You could also spot one of your favorite celebrities dining at the Golden Age inspired Shirley Brasserie, located off the lobby.
Beauty & Essex
One of Hollywood’s trendiest spots, Beauty & Essex – the West Coast iteration of the famous NYC spot – is located inside the Dream Hotel in Hollywood (6417 Selma Ave, Hollywood 90028). The restaurant, bar, and lounge have been frequented by A-listers like Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Selena Gomez, The Weeknd and Paris Hilton.
TCL Chinese Theatres
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 Theatres (6925 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood 90028) 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. Even when a Hollywood movie premiere isn’t underway, a visit to the Chinese is worth it to see the handprints and signatures of generations of celebrities in the Forecourt of the Stars.
Located two doors down from the famed Troubadour, Dan Tana’s (9071 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood 90069) has been serving up delicious Italian fare to the rich and famous for nearly 60 years. Celebrities who have frequented this legendary establishment include George Clooney, who has hosted private post-Oscar parties over the years; Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton; Drew Barrymore, who first visited the restaurant as a baby; Leonardo DiCaprio, Steve Martin and many more.
Los Angeles has no shortage of great neighborhood restaurants, and Little Dom’s (2128 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles 90027) is one of the best. This retro Italian restaurant in Los Feliz arguably has the best rice balls in town, and their Monday Night Supper (a three-course meal for $25) is not to be missed. Along with great food, cocktails and wine, numerous celebrities that live in the neighborhood are known to frequent the restaurant.
The quaint neighborhood of Franklin Village features a small strip of must-visit spots, including the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, Birds, and the French bistro La Poubelle (5907 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles 90028) which is often swarming with celebrities.
A galaxy of stars dine at the seafood-centric Catch LA (8715 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood 90069) – the West Coast version of nightlife entrepreneurs Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm’s original Catch restaurant in NYC. Diners enjoy an al fresco setting, vegan and gluten-free options, and locally grown ingredients. Celebrities spotted at Catch LA include Cindy Crawford, Sylvester Stallone, Quincy Jones, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Millie Bobby Brown and more.
While there are numerous LA restaurants that you can pop into and spot a celebrity, Craig’s (8826 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood 90069) is almost guaranteed - it's been a popular haunt for the rich and famous since it opened in 2011. It’s not unusual to happen upon the paparazzi when walking into Craig’s, which serves up good ol' American comfort food and vegan specialties.
Beverly Hills Hotel
Think of a celebrity, and they've probably stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel (9641 Sunset Blvd, Beverly Hills 90210) or sipped cocktails in the Polo Lounge. Elizabeth Taylor reportedly spent six of her honeymoons in the hotel's bungalows! If booking a room at the hotel or a power lunch at the Polo Lounge isn't in your budget, a stroll around the grounds will do.
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 legion 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 coming to his airy Beverly Hills salon (8944 Burton Way, Beverly Hills 90211) and the paparazzi keep on following them.
With a dancing fountain, vintage trolley car and dozens of stores, restaurants and movie screens, The Grove is the perfect place to visit for great shopping, delicious food, and entertainment. Adjacent to The Grove is The Original Farmers Market, a funky warren of open-air vendors and food stalls offering a variety of dining and shopping options, including candy, popcorn, and fresh produce.
Studio City Farmers Market
Located on Ventura Place between Laurel Canyon and Radford Avenue, the Studio City Farmers Market is another popular hangout for celebrities. You’ll see stars who live and work near the area’s film studios strolling through the Sunday morning gathering spot. Those with families can often be seen taking their children to the market’s petting zoo or pony rides. If you’re in the Valley on a Sunday morning, it’s worth a trip to the farmers market because you never know who you’ll run into.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Not all celebrities have a private jet to travel, so if you’re arriving or departing from LAX, there’s a chance you may see someone famous. While many celebrities are members of airline clubs for pre-flight privacy, they still have to mingle with the public post-flight at baggage claim.
Located up the coast off Pacific Coast Highway, Japanese-Peruvian restaurant Nobu Malibu (22706 CA-1, Malibu 90265) is a popular dining spot for the rich and famous. Pick up any celebrity magazine and you’re likely to see photos of stars stepping into or out of this high-end Malibu restaurant. If you’re planning a visit to Nobu, it’s worth it for the delicious selection of sushi and sashimi creations, but it will likely set you back a pretty penny.
Malibu Country Mart
When celebs want to shop somewhere relaxed and casual, they head to the Malibu Country Mart (3835 Cross Creek Rd, Malibu 90265) 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. Located near Pepperdine University, the Malibu Pier and the mega-mansions of the fabulously rich, the Malibu Country Mart is Malibu’s de facto town square, which makes it a great place for star sightings.
The stretch of Malibu beach that runs from Carbon Canyon Road to the Malibu Pier is known by locals as Billionaire's 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.
Situated just one block from PCH and next to the ocean, the family-owned Italian restaurant Giorgio Baldi (114 W Channel Rd, Santa Monica 90402) is well-known as a hotspot for celebrities. Though it’s been open since 1979, it’s still off-the-radar for many, which has made it an inviting dining spot for Taylor Swift and Rihanna.
Brentwood Country Mart
Westside local celebs love visiting the Brentwood Country Mart (225 26th St, Santa Monica 90402) which offers top-of-the-line boutiques for shopping and great food and restaurants, including homemade ice cream at Sweet Rose Creamery.
Head into a random Starbucks in LA and you’re likely to see a celebrity, especially in neighborhoods like Malibu, Studio City, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
Shopping at Ralphs, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s & More
Celebrities have to shop for groceries, too, and with many of the rich and famous choosing to settle down "over the hill" in The Valley, it's not unusual to spot a famous person loading up on produce at Ralphs. From Encino to Sherman Oaks, celebrities who have been spotted pushing around a shopping cart like "normal" people include Duff McKagan from Guns N’ Roses, KISS’ Paul Stanley, Matt LeBlanc and many more. Celebrities have also been spotted shopping at grocery stores across the city including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Bristol Farms and Gelson’s.