Los Angeles may be home to countless Hollywood stars, but that doesn’t mean you’ll run into one simply by walking into any Starbucks.
The city is massive, after all, and neighborhoods like Brentwood, Studio City, and Los Feliz shelter them from the throngs of tourists eager for sightings. So if rubbing elbows with the celebs—or perhaps a quick sighting from a respectful distance—is part of your La La Land checklist, there are specific places to go. Many of L.A.’s elevated bars and restaurants, not to mention hiking trails, host your favorite famous personalities, from the up-and-comers to the A-listers. Though, be forewarned: many of them are swanky and have an air of exclusivity, so subtlety is your friend.
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The restaurant and cocktails bar at Chateau Marmont is possibly L.A.’s best-known celebrity haunt, making it your best bet to do as the locals do and nonchalantly stumble into one. That’s hardly a surprise as this posh hotel-slash-Hollywood haven has an ideal location, hidden away from the bustle of Sunset Boulevard but still close enough to the studios and theaters. Come for a quintessential L.A. brunch (think acai bowls, avocado toasts, and green juices) in the garden terrace or drop in at night for the Hollywood-inspired cocktails.
You can’t just walk into a Soho House and be welcomed with open arms. This exclusive club for creative souls, which has outposts all over Europe and North America, is members only. It’s to be expected, considering its high-profile clientele. However, if you do have a couple thousand dollars to spare for an annual membership—or if you’re friends with someone who is a member—then Soho House West Hollywood and Little Beach House Malibu are chock-full of celeb sighting opportunities. Of course, with that money, you might as well enjoy the facilities.
It isn’t unusual to see paps lurking around this famous Hollywood park. Out of L.A.’s hundreds of absurdly beautiful hiking spots, Runyon Canyon gets the biggest share of celebrity regulars, probably because it’s tucked between the Hollywood Hills, where many stars live, and the Hollywood strip. Not that it’s only worth visiting to see your favorite actors and actresses in athleisure wear—it’s also a great venue for getting some fresh air and partaking in one of L.A.’s beloved pastimes. As an added bonus, it’s an ideal spot to take panoramic photos of the city at sunset.
If you’ve ever picked up an issue of People or Us Weekly, you’ve undoubtedly seen photos of celebrities stepping out of the Malibu outpost of this talked about Japanese-Peruvian restaurant. It’s a known A-list hotspot so you’re almost guaranteed a sighting on any night. And even if you don’t, it’s still worth the trip, thanks to its luscious sushi and sashimi creations, some of which are California-inspired. But eating here isn’t a casual affair, as lunch or dinner in its sparkling coastline-adorned patio can set you back a few hundred dollars. Be ready to splurge.
Upscale Brentwood is home to a number of celebrities, and rustic trattoria Toscana on San Vicente is one of their neighborhood haunts for its cozy atmosphere, drool-worthy Tuscan fare, and excellent wine list. It may not be one of L.A.’s best Italian restaurants—for that, you may want to check out Jon & Vinny’s, which also gets its share of celebrity diners—but for star sightings, it’s your best bet. Another reason to go: their incredible white truffle menu.
A visit in L.A. isn’t complete until you’ve wined and dined at one of its rooftop bars or restaurants. To scratch that off the list, secure a table at the flora-cluttered Catch in West Hollywood. This West Coast location is as LA as you can get, with its al fresco setting, vegan and gluten-free offerings, and locally- (not to mention sustainably-) grown ingredients. Seafood reigns supreme, but there are more than enough options for meat lovers. The celebrity sightings? Well, that’s just a bonus.
L.A. may be strewn with outdoor malls, but it’s The Grove that gets the highest billing, not just for its collection of mid- to high-end shops and restaurants, but also for its famous Farmers Market. It’s a terrific place to shop ‘til you drop, whether you’re on the budget or ready to splurge. It’s also one of the best places on the Westside to see the stars, which may require the sharpest eye what with the Grove’s consistently heavy foot traffic. While there, an exploration of the Farmers Market is practically obligatory.
The Hollywood Roosevelt
The historic Hollywood Roosevelt is not just an institution. It’s also one of L.A.’s oldest hotels and has hosted more than its share of celebrities and dignitaries in its Spanish Colonial Revival rooms. Incidentally, it’s also one of the city’s most haunted places, another reason for a visit. Better yet, make it your base for your Los Angeles vacation—set in the heart of Hollywood, it offers a convenient location as well as a number of watering holes, including Tropicana Pool & Café and The Spare Room, where you might cap the night off after a busy day of exploration.
Melrose’s busy strip is cluttered with vintage stores, luxe retailers, cafes with outdoor seating, and restaurants that celebrities frequent. One of them is Craig’s whose unremarkable façade, it turns out, provides a safe haven for the movie industry’s most important names and well-known faces when they want to feast on American fare in peace. We’re not going to lie: this joint is always busy so you might not even get a table. It’s a good thing the food is worth the effort.
Café Gratitude Larchmont
Round out your L.A. vacation with a plant-based meal at Café Gratitude. Even non-vegan/vegetarian diners will enjoy their delicious (not to mention, highly Instagrammable) dishes made with organic, sustainable ingredients. Buffalo Cauliflower Wings, Coconut Calamari, and SF Mission Burrito are among their meat crowd-pleasers. For a celeb sighting, however, head on over to their Larchmont location where many health-conscious stars obligingly declare what they’re grateful for before digging in.