When awards season rolls around, it’s easy to catch a glimpse of celebs dressed to the nines and corralled around a red carpet. But for the rest of the year, your celebrity sightings will have to be a little more casual. And they just might take a bit of legwork on your part. Los Angeles is the city of the stars, but you can’t just drive down the 101 and expect to see Tom Cruise in a Bentley.
Click through to see where the stars hang out — and make sure you have enough cash to get in the door.
Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
If you want to save money on a hotel, this famous one is probably one you’ll just have to dream about. This Four Seasons epitomizes Beverly Hills luxury, with linens and headboards that probably cost more than some peoples’ cars. Among on-site spas and cafes, the Italian bar and restaurant Culina is a prime spot for celebrity spotting.
Cost to hang out: Dinner entrees at Culina range within $20 to $68, and rooms for two adults start in the range of $650 per night and can rocket up to well over $2,000.
Celebs spotted: Orlando Bloom, Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey
LA certainly doesn’t lack uber-luxurious hotels, and those hotels certainly don’t lack celebrity guests. The Sunset Marquis, right off the Sunset Strip, focuses on curating an oasis-like vibe, with 3.5 acres of suites, villas, gardens and private retreats.
Cost to hang out: If you plan to book a Junior Villa, be prepared to spend at least $510 for the night, although you can spend about $2,500 on fancier accommodations. Otherwise, sip a $15 cocktail at Bar 1200 and spy on the rich and famous over the rims of your sunglasses.
Celebs spotted: Alessandra Ambrosio, Brian Grazer, Anna Paquin, Ray J
If you’re looking to capture your own personal collection of celebrity shopping photos — a longstanding paparazzi staple — The Grove is the place to be. You can regularly spot famous shoppers running up a tab at luxury shops like Coach or Barneys New York, or wait for events like designer fashion shows to draw a celebrity crowd. Sometimes, The Grove makes it even easier by hosting celeb meet-and-greets.
To catch celebs in a more casual, low-key environment, stroll over to The Original Farmer’s Market, an LA staple since 1934. Farm-fresh produce and homemade, locally sourced treats draw in health-conscious entertainers like moths to the flame.
Cost to hang out: Shops at The Grove and booths at the Farmer’s Market run the gamut from $2 coffees to $2,000 clothes, but browsing is free. Parking is a $24 daily maximum, though some retailers will help you out with the cost by validating your ticket.
Celebs spotted: Mario Lopez, Bryan Cranston, Gary Busey, Niall Horan, Heidi Klum
Old Hollywood glamour is alive and well at Chateau Marmont in the Hollywood Hills. Mega-famous entertainers frequent the bar and restaurant for social visits, and stay in the luxury bungalows for both work and pleasure. Hold on to your memories, though — no photography is allowed inside.
Cost to hang out: Although rooms hover around the range of $900 to $1,200 per night, you can get a couple drinks at the Chateau Marmont Restaurant for under $50.
Celebs spotted: Kim Kardashian, Morgan Freeman, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Jimmy Fallon
Also in Travel: 20 Secret Ways to Save on Your Next Hotel Stay
Fig & Olive
Fig & Olive’s flagship restaurant is on Melrose Place in West Hollywood — and if that sounds like a place where famous people might hang out, that’s because it is. While you’re sightseeing, enjoy an airy, light-filled ambiance and communal, Mediterranean-inspired dining.
Cost to hang out: Lunch entrees range from about $20 to $30, or you can enjoy the restaurant’s famous crostini, at six pieces for $22.
Celebs spotted: Johnny Depp, Halle Berry, Keith Urban, Mark Wahlberg, Pharrell Williams
Save Up and Make Your Reservations: These Five-Star Restaurants Are Worth Every Penny
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Hollywood celebrities are famous for creating art, so it makes sense that they like to view artwork, too. Whether you see a movie star at LACMA or not, you’re bound to be impressed by a collection of almost 135,000 works of art ranging from antiquity to contemporary.
Cost to hang out: General admission tickets are $20 for LA residents and $25 for non-LA residents, but children age 17 and under are always free. On-site dining at LACMA Cafe keeps it under $20 per diner.
Celebs spotted: Kendall Jenner, Reese Witherspoon, Will Ferrell, Amy Adams, Kristen Stewart
Art Collections and 15 More: Craziest Things These Billionaires Spend Their Money On
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
The opulent and iconic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood hosts numerous movie premieres every year, which makes it a prime target for seeing celebrities milling about. Even if you miss the stars in person, you can check out their handprints and signatures famously captured in the cement out front.
Cost to hang out: Checking out the handprints is free, but a regular adult movie ticket costs $16.
Celebs spotted: Vin Diesel, Dave Franco, Margot Robbie, Jada Pinkett Smith and Harrison Ford have shown up at premieres and events here.
Don’t Miss: 21 Celebrity Homes with Unbelievable Histories
Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles
The Ace screams old-school LA style, with its deco-inspired architecture and numerous outdoor hangouts. The stars don’t just stay at the swanky hotel, they also flock to its famous rooftop bar.
Cost to hang out: Rooms start at around $264 a night and go up from there. Cocktails at the bar, however, are $14 a pop.
Celebs spotted: Katy Perry, Zoe Kravitz, Matt Damon, Jessica Alba
Los Angeles International Airport
You’ve probably seen photos of bedraggled-looking celebrities deplaning at LAX, which was a prime target for paparazzi shots. So your celeb-spotting might get a little meta here, as you can spot paparazzi while they spot celebrities.
But in May 2017, LAX opened the first private airport terminal, catering to the rich and famous folks who want to lay low from the public and press. You, too, can be a part of this exclusive experience — as long as you’re willing to pony up with the membership fee.
Cost to hang out: If you’ve already bought your plane ticket, hanging at LAX is free. But membership for the private terminal starts at $2,000 per person and goes up to $4,000 per group of four people.
Celebs spotted: Kendall Jenner, Kate Hudson, Selena Gomez, Kate Upton, Harry Styles
Katsuya on San Vicente Boulevard in Brentwood is known for two things: Sushi and celebrity sightseeing. But you don’t have to be famous to appreciate master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi’s Japanese-California fusion creations paired with a sleek, ultra-modern interior.
Cost to hang out: Signature sushi lunches cost about $30 — you can get dinner for that much, too, though a tasting menu will set you back $75.
Celebs spotted: Chloe Grace Moretz, Skrillex, Alessandra Ambrosio, Sugar Ray Leonard
Delicious Dining on a Dime: Eat at These Surprisingly Affordable Michelin Restaurants
ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood
Centrally located on Sunset Boulevard, the ArcLight offers a premium movie-going experience with state-of-the-art technology, rotating film-centric exhibits, an on-site cafe and assigned seating. You might catch a celeb at a screening, but it’s best to show up when the venue hosts a premiere.
Cost to hang out: Tickets for evening shows are $17.75 for adults, and you can grab an appetizer at the ArcLight Hollywood Cafe Bar for $8 to $19.
Celebs spotted: Recent premieres have hosted Selena Gomez, Josh Hutcherson, James Franco, Angelina Jolie and Channing Tatum.
The Huntington is more than just a historic library. It hosts a rotating collection of often-priceless art, books and manuscripts and vast, absolutely gorgeous botanical gardens — some of the most breathtaking sights you’ll ever see. This is where you’ll catch the intellectual celebs, whether they’re researching a role, giving a lecture or just zoning out over 120 acres of landscaping.
Cost to hang out: Admission at The Huntington normally costs adults about $25, but the first Thursday of every month is free with advance tickets. It’s a huge landmark to trek through, so you might want to plan on lunch at one of the many cafes — a pizza at 1919, the on-site cafe, costs $12.
Celebs spotted: Ron Howard, Vanessa Hudgens, Gwen Stefani
Brentwood Country Mart
Thanks to those sunglasses-on, bag-in-hand paparazzi snaps, it’s no secret that celebrities love to shop. And the Brentwood Country Mart’s rustic, barn-like style makes it a great place to browse both swag and celebrities.
Cost to hang out: Prices vary widely depending on where you shop. You could drop $3,000 on a handbag at Christian Louboutin, or under $20 on a meal at Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers.
Celebs spotted: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Nick Lachey, Dustin Hoffman
Since opening in 2013, Crossroads Kitchen on Melrose and Sweetzer has been a low-key celebrity hot spot. They flock to celebrity chef Tal Ronnen’s vegan, cruelty-free comfort food and the spot’s upscale decor.
Cost to hang out: Lunch sandwiches and hot plates can be had for under $15, as can Crossroad’s fruit- and veggie-based cocktails.
Celebs spotted: Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Kat Von D, Fred Durst, Paul McCartney
Pricey Dining Favorites of the Rich and Famous: The Most Expensive Restaurants That Celebrities Love
Also in Beverly Hills, the iconic Rodeo Drive — known far and wide for its movie shopping sprees ever since “Pretty Woman” — is happy to relieve celebs of the burden of their fortunes. This three-block strip of upscale boutiques is home to luxury storefronts from Bulgari to Prada to Tiffany & Co.
Cost to hang out: Window shopping — or pretending you’re really going to buy that $2,200 coat from Moncler — doesn’t cost a thing. But you’ll have to shell out for a garage or meter spot to park and stroll.
Celebs spotted: Robert Pattinson, Julianne Moore, Harry Styles, Amanda Seyfried
The Mouse rules all in Hollywood, from anthropomorphic Pixar characters to Marvel superheroes. Even if they’re not affiliated with Mickey, celebs aren’t immune to the charms of the happiest place on earth — you’re especially likely to spot the more family-oriented stars here, often escorted by Disney’s plaid-wearing personal tour guides. Just make sure to do what you can to save during your magical visit.
Cost to hang out: Regular single-day tickets start at $97 per day, but the per-day cost goes down if you buy tickets for three or more days. You’ll need to budget a bare minimum of $20 per person for a light lunch at a casual spot like Cafe Orleans.
Celebs spotted: Chris Hemsworth, Hilary Duff, Peyton Manning, Nick Cannon
The Ivy is where celebrities go to get their shabby chic on. This homey, cottage-style restaurant is decorated with dense floral patterns and an abundance of flowers, cushy seating and eclectic decor. Just don’t be the creeper who hides behind a plant.
Cost to hang out: Breakfast plates start at a pricey $26, or you can opt for a $10 juice.
Celebs spotted: Khloe Kardashian, Demi Lovato, Christina Aguilera, Nick Jonas
This one’s a little bit like cheating. The Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard showcases the latest in audio-visual technology and hosts numerous entertainment award events. Throughout the year, public film festivals and screenings with accompanying panels give audiences the chance to see stars in person.
Cost to hang out: Ticket prices for attending screenings and fests with celebrity Q&As start at $40.
Celebs spotted: Tom Hanks, George Lucas, Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, Meryl Streep
Hollywood Walk of Fame
One of the best free attractions to visit in California, the iconic sidewalk emblazoned with stars sports reportedly has over 2,600 honoree names and spans over 15 blocks in central Hollywood. Though there’s always an off-chance of catching a celeb dining or shopping on Hollywood Boulevard, your best bet is to catch an induction ceremony on the sidewalk.
Cost to hang out: Meandering up and down the Walk of Fame is free, but make sure to budget about $15 to $30 for parking.
Celebs spotted: Vin Diesel, Bryan Cranston, Johnny Depp, Hans Zimmer
The Hollywood Roosevelt
The opulent Hollywood Roosevelt hotel’s glamorous packages not only include lodging, they throw in services like in-suite makeup and hairstyling, and access to Oscar-viewing parties. Celebrities stay in the Roosevelt’s classic tower or its sunny cabanas, and dine at its retro-inspired cafes and bars.
Cost to hang out: Those hairdressing and Oscar-viewing packages can cost you $1,575 to $2,400 for two nights, or you can grab a lunch entrée at the on-site Cafe Tropicana in the $20 to $30 range. Cocktails at the Spare Room cost around $15 each.
Celebs spotted: Miley Cyrus, David Arquette, Chris Evans, Eva Longoria, Mila Kunis
Stars, They’re Just Like Us: 15 Celebrities Who Vacation Like You and Me
Malibu Country Mart
Malibu’s reputation as a celeb magnet makes sense. It’s removed from the bustle of central LA, the scenery is breathtaking, and there’s no shortage of shopping, dining and relaxation options. The Malibu Country Mart shopping center is kind of like Malibu’s town hall — in fact, it’s right in the heart of the town’s Civic Center.
Cost to hang out: It doesn’t cost anything to browse, but you can drop $5 or $10 at Starbucks while you side-eye celebs, or take out a loan to buy a $2,800 shearling coat at John Varvatos.
Celebs spotted: Tori Spelling, Simon Cowell, Pamela Anderson, Justin Bieber
While you’re in Malibu, you might as well pull over on the Pacific Coast Highway and pop into Nobu. At this upscale Japanese restaurant — a favorite of the stars known for its sashimi, miso and tiradito — your stargazing will feature a beautiful Pacific Ocean backdrop. But don’t forget to make a reservation well in advance.
Cost to hang out: Expect to spend at least $30 on your plate, although you can get away with ordering a few pieces of sushi or soup for just under $20.
Celebs spotted: Kim Kardashian, Liev Schreiber, Jessica Simpson, Avril Lavigne
Here’s where you can get your exercise in while you peep celebrities. The main loop in a 130-acre park, Runyon Canyon is a bastion of hikers, joggers and personal trainers getting their fitness on, which means you might just catch your idol wearing sunglasses and working on that six-pack.
Cost to hang out: Not a dime — just grab your water bottle and comfy shoes, and you’re off.
Celebs spotted: Charlize Theron, Hayden Panettiere, Natalie Portman, Matthew McConaughey
The good thing about celebrity-hunting at a museum is that, even if you don’t capture Idris Elba on your iPhone, you’re guaranteed to see some enlightening sights. A fairly new contemporary art museum — The Broad opened in downtown LA in 2015 — this 120,000-square-foot cultural center showcases 2,000 works of postwar art.
Cost to hang out: General admission is free if you book in advance, but parking costs $15 for three hours — bring an extra $20 minimum per person if you want to brunch at in-house cafe Otium.
Celebs spotted: Robert Downey Jr., Rosanna Arquette
Also in Travel: Legendary Landmarks That Are Free to Visit
Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air
Celebrity chefs don’t get much more famous than Wolfgang Puck, and fame tends to attract fame. At the Hotel Bel-Air location, Puck’s menu focuses on Mediterranean influences crafted from local ingredients and served in immaculate indoor and outdoor spaces. Don’t forget that reservation.
Cost to hang out: Four-course dinners here run $95 per diner, or you can save a few bucks with a roughly $25 breakfast.
Celebs spotted: Toni Braxton, Michael B. Jordan, Emma Roberts and, of course, Wolfgang Puck
If you’d rather watch other people exercise, catch a Lakers or Kings game at their home stadium in downtown LA. Of course, the arena also hosts concerts and events, including Red Hot Chili Peppers shows and WWE wrestling matches, but most celeb sightings happen courtside.
Cost to hang out: Ticket prices vary per event. To see the Lakers and their many celebrity fans, a ticket will put you out $39 to $300.
Celebs spotted: Jack Nicholson, Floyd Mayweather, David Beckham, Ryan Seacrest, Denzel Washington
Another Four Seasons hotel just steps away from Rodeo Drive, the Beverly Wilshire ensures that movie stars won’t have to carry their Gucci bags too far. Inside, you’ll find the usual luxury accommodations alongside on-site spas and upscale dining.
Cost to hang out: If you’re tired of hotel cocktails, treat yourself to a 30-minute reflexology massage for $160. You never know who might be on the next table.
Celebs spotted: Jerry Seinfeld, Russell Brand, Tim Allen, Sarah Silverman
Warwick’s rustic brick walls, dimmed lighting and warm fireplaces make it easier for celebrities to go incognito — but maybe not so much anymore now that you know about this spot. The cavernous space houses multiple bars with tableside cocktail service, specializing in intricate cocktails with fresh-squeezed juice, seasonal garnishes and housemade ingredients.
Cost to hang out: Specialty cocktails cost a surprisingly standard $15 at Warwick, although you can get a mega-sized pina colada for $35 if you want to sip the night away.
Celebs spotted: Aaron Paul, Wiz Khalifa, Zayn Malik, Fergie
Maybe the idea of doing your own footwork to catch sight of a celebrity sounds like an adventure to you. But if you’d rather take the “work” part out of the equation, Hollywood’s 80-year-old Starline celebrity tour service will sit you down in an open-roofed bus and ride you through the Sunset Strip, Rodeo Drive and residential cul-de-sacs in the Hollywood Hills.
Cost to hang out: Adults ride starting at $45, and kids age 11 and under can hop on for $35.
Celebs spotted: You’ll see the homes of Jennifer Aniston, Tom Cruise, Al Pacino, Jennifer Lopez and others — and hopefully catch a glimpse of the stars as you ride past.
About the Author
Dan is an honors graduate of western Kentucky’s Murray State University and has been a freelance writer and full-time creative since 2009, in addition to co-founding and co-owning two active media production businesses – one for the west coast in Los Angeles, California, and one for the east in Cincinnati, Ohio. As an independent creative professional with a scroll-like resume of both blue collar and white collar experience and a longtime business writer, Dan has been fortunate enough to publish with the likes of Chron.com, Fortune, The Motley Fool, Career Trends, Bizfluent, MSN Money, Legal Beagle, San Francisco Chronicle’s SFGate, USA Today, Builder’s Capital, Salon.com and Zacks.com, among others. He’s also offered his words to such diverse brands as ASUS, Kellog’s, Discover, Sony Pictures, Samsung, Linksys, LIVESTRONG, Office Depot, Canon Inc., Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation and Verizon, as well as frequently writing in the fields of entertainment, travel, fitness, lifestyle and fashion.