Green juice, beaches, traffic jams and celebrities: chances are that if you’re in Los Angeles, you won’t go far without encountering one of the city’s hallmarks (or, some may say, stereotypes). Other than indulging in California-fresh cuisine and checking out the area’s many dreamy stretches of sand, some visitors travel to this sun-kissed locale with the expressed purpose of catching a glimpse of their favourite stars.
Other than obvious suggestions such as awards ceremony red carpets, movie premieres and scoring tickets to a celebrity talk show, there are a few under-the-radar spots that celebrities tend to frequent – often incognito, donning a giant pair of sunglasses, baseball cap and their most nondescript outfit. Read on to find our more about the best places to go celebrity-spotting in the City of Angels.
Plan your arrival to LA at the right time and you could be witnessing the stars waltzing down the red carpet of a film premiere. This is the venue where many of Hollywood’s biggest and best motion pictures are introduced to the public for the first time. Originally opened as the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in 1927, it’s surrounded by the trademark concrete floor that’s imprinted with the hands and footprints of various stars.
Move over, Whole Foods. LA’s favourite organic grocery store Erehwon Market is a favourite among health-conscious celebrities looking to stock up on their healthy greens and non-dairy alternatives for the week. Leonardo DiCaprio, Miley Cyrus and Megan Fox have all been spotted grabbing groceries at the chain, which has locations in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Venice. Don’t forget to nab a kombucha and some vegan sushi during your visit.
As the home of the illustrious Academy Awards, this venue is the most star-studded in the month of February, as the red carpet rolls out and fans take to the bleachers to see their favourite personalities dressed in their awards-ceremony finest. Formerly known as the Kodak Theatre, where the American Idol series was filmed, and previously home to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, it offers special behind-the-scenes tours at US$25 for adults.
4. The Grove
Upmarket retail therapy location The Grove has a concierge service and valet parking, so it’s no wonder that it is the luxury shopping mall of choice for many celebrities. Famous for its vintage tram trolley, which navigates the part-outdoor, part-indoor mall, and its huge Santa’s Grotto at Christmas, there’s always something going on here. Whether attending a celebrity book signing or simply visiting one of the restaurants, cinemas or stores, this is a great place to mingle with Hollywood’s finest.
Opposite the the Dolby Theatre is the Jimmy Kimmel Live! studio, where guests such as Courteney Cox and Guy Ritchie are often spotted waving to the paparazzi as they arrive and leave to film shows. The Emmy-nominated ABC network programme is known for its funny segments such as Mean Tweets and the YouTube Challenge. To sign up for free tickets, visit this website. You’ll want to look your best, because audience members may be filmed and are sometimes asked to take part in the show.
6. TMZ Tour
Don’t be surprised if you spot a familiar face while you’re touring the areas where the stars hang out. This tour navigates the places in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills that are well-known as socialising spots that are frequented and beloved by celebrities. The bus is guided by a member of TMZ’s TV show staff, who are always ready to film stars to be featured in the programme or online. Guests on the tour have managed to catch a glimpse of the likes of Rihanna, Kevin Hart and more. You can purchase tickets here. Note that the tour is temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 situation so check its website for updates.
7. Soho House
You’ll need to be a member or know a member to get entry into this prestigious West Hollywood location. For ultimate privacy, guests enter via underground parking along Sunset Boulevard. Taking photos is a strict no-no, except in their vintage passport-style photo booth, and phone calls must be taken on their verandah (it offers panoramic views of the city, so this doesn’t present too raw of a deal at all). If you’re lucky enough to get inside, you can enjoy their beautiful roof gardens, kick back in the screening room or grab a bite to eat and a drink with a celebrity likely seated nearby.
A regular two-hour tour at the famous studio takes guests through the backlot streets and sound stages where popular programmes such as Gilmore Girls and The Big Bang Theory have been filmed throughout the years. The Deluxe Tour takes six hours and offers a more in-depth tour of the studio. Guests can even grab lunch in the Commissary Fine Dining Room where actors, producers, studio executives and writers meet to discuss secret scripts. Be sure to stop by Cafe Sur Le Lot, which was a key filming location in the Oscar-winning movie La La Land starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Note that the tour is temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 situation so check its website for updates.
9. The Ivy
Not connected to the celebrity-favourite restaurant in London of the same name, The Ivy in West Hollywood is equally popular with famous faces and was even featured in the Golden Globe-winning movie Get Shorty, starring John Travolta. The paparazzi is always nearby, trying to get shots of stars from across the road and through the famous white picket fence, while A-listers like George Clooney and Jennifer Aniston dine on classic Californian cuisine. Despite its popularity with celebrities, the homey decor – think floral tablecloths and plush cushions – will make you feel right at home.
10. Chateau Marmont
Lindsay Lohan, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill are all big names who have been spotted at this West Hollywood Hotel, and chances are you’ll have multiple celebrity sightings on the same night. Located on Sunset Boulevard, the site includes an indoor dining area and greenery-filled terrace, both of which attract plenty of guests and visitors. Owner André Balazs is also behind London’s Chiltern Firehouse, New York’s The Mercer and Miami’s The Standard, among other hot properties. Just down the Hill is Bar Marmont, a second best option if there’s no room at the hotel.
11. Urth Caffe
This popular coffee chain was one of the main filming locations of HBO hit Entourage, but stars Adrien Grenier and Jeremy Piven aren’t the only celebrities who enjoy it. Demi Lovato, Melanie Griffith and Kendall Jenner have all been spotted at this chain, with the Melrose branch being one of the most popular in the city among the rich and famous. Stop by for a refuel of organic coffee, a matcha latte or fine tea and you never know who you might bump into.
12. Barry’s Bootcamp
Loved by Jake Gyllenhaal and Kim Kardashian, the fitness brand has two branches in LA and others in the United States, Europe and the Middle East. At US$28 per class, it’s a small price to pay to get in shape like the stars with this tough interval training class. Each day offers a different focus on the body, and the class is split between people on the treadmill and people training on the floor with weights and resistance bands. You’ll be ready for your close-up picture in no time.
Los Angeles International Airport, better known as LAX, is the gateway to the city – so unless celebrities are opting for a private jet into Santa Monica Airport, this is where you can sight them. Keep your eyes peeled when you’re checking in or going through security. If you’re flying Business or First Class, be extra alert for big names in the boarding queues and lounges. Terminal 3’s arrival hall is said to be a great spot for stars who want to be snapped leaving the airport.
14. Runyon Canyon
Not only is this a prime location to get grand views of the city from above, but you can also glimpse celebrities getting their endorphins going on if you’re lucky. The 160-acre Runyon Canyon is a favourite of the likes of Anne Hathaway, Natalie Portman and Justin Bieber for a spot of hiking. Located just two blocks from Hollywood, there are several entrances and hiking routes, plus an off-leash dog policy – which makes it a top spot for famous people who just can’t bear to be parted from their furry friends.
15. Staples Center
The LA Clippers and LA Lakers are Los Angeles’ two big National Basketball Association (NBA) teams, and as well as seeing the biggest names in the sport – LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard, to name just three –on the court, you’ll also see them in the VIP seats. Whether it’s the famous wives and girlfriends of the players or celebrities who count themselves as fans (think Harry Styles, Jack Nicholson and Jay Z), this multi-purpose venue has a lot to offer as far as star-spotting goes. If sport isn’t your thing, book tickets to see a music gig here instead.
– TEXT BY LEAH SIMPSON
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours as well as booking requirements before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.
The information is accurate as of press time. For updated information, please refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings in 2017 and was updated on 05 April 2021.