Celebrity Spotting Guide

California, Los Angeles Guide (D): Celebrity Spotting Guide

This is a list of 14 great places to spot celebrities in Los Angeles, including restaurants, shopping malls and film/TV locations. Information included is best times to go celebrity spotting and insider tips. Costs involved range from free to the very expensive.
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Attractions Map

Guide Name: Celebrity Spotting Guide
Guide Location: USA » Los Angeles
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (D))
# of Destinations: 14
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Staples Center   The Grove At Farmer's Market   Warner Brothers Studio   CBS Television City   Jimmy Kimmel Live & Hollywood and Highland   Runyon Canyon   TMZ Bus Tour   Nate n' Al's Restaurant   Mr. Chow Restaurant   The Polo Lounge, Beverly Hills Hotel   The Ivy Restaurant   Kitson Department Store   House of Blues   Bar Marmont at the Chateau Marmont Hotel  
Author: Grace Takade
Author Bio: I was born and raised in Los Angeles and have lived here all my life. I have enjoyed traveling to many great locations worldwide, but have also made it my mission to explore my native city and see its many wonderful sights.
1
Staples Center

1) Staples Center

Located in downtown Los Angeles, this arena is home to the Lakers, Clippers and Kings. At any given home game, famous fans of these sports teams can be seen cheering them on to victory. Laker season ticket holders include Jack Nicholson, Penny Marshall, Dyan Cannon and Denzel Washington. Other celebrities are often present. If you happen to also be a sports fan, then it's a nice two activities for the price of one deal.

Tips: Try buying a seat opposite the team benches, so you are facing them. The celebrities are often sitting behind the benches. Bring binoculars. If you don't care about seeing the beginning of the game, show up late and buy tickets from a scalper, as there is a good chance you can get the tickets for less than face value. Be ready to bargain with them. But keep in mind that "desirable" games will be sold out and scalpers may not have anything left to sell. Clipper and King tickets are cheaper than Laker tickets, but also draw fewer "A-listers".

If you're thinking about buying the cheapest seat possible and then sneaking down to the floor level, don't bother. Entry to all seats above the luxury suites use one entrance, while entry to the luxury suites and seats below are through a different entrance on the opposite side of the building. There are no public escalators or stairs that connect the upper level to the lower level.
Image by Jjron under Creative Commons License.
2
The Grove At Farmer's Market

2) The Grove At Farmer's Market

This popular outdoor shopping center attracts celebrity shoppers. The celebrity gossip show TMZ often has a crew here on standby and interviews whichever celebrity they happen to spot. They can range from reality show "stars", to models and the occasional truly famous.

The tabloid show Extra also films segments at this location, generally in front of the fountain, weekdays between 9am and 2pm. Their website will tell you the names and times of celebrity interviews they do at The Grove: http://www.extratv.com/2013/05/03/extra-at-the-grove/

The mall gets very crowded on weekends with regular shoppers and celebrities tend to avoid it during those times. Several eating/drinking establishments have outdoor seating near the fountain, for a comfortable people watching experience.

Tip: While you can easily walk between the Farmer's Market side and The Grove side, they do NOT cross validate parking. Parking for The Grove is 1st hour free, then $4 for the 2nd hour, $5 for the 3rd hour, maximum $24. Only certain merchants validate. Spend over $200 and the concierge's desk will comp your parking.

Parking on the Farmer's Market side is two hours free with purchase from any Market merchant, $4 for the 3rd hour, $20 maximum. Plot your parking strategy accordingly.
Image by Bobak Ha'Eri under Creative Commons License.
3
Warner Brothers Studio

3) Warner Brothers Studio

So let's go with the sure thing. If you're going to spend all this time, effort and money to come to Los Angeles, why take chances? Your celebrity spotting goal can be reserved and achieved, in advance.

This working film and TV studio in Burbank is a sure fire way to see celebrities. One can take the studio tour, which does cost money, or get free tickets to one or multiple shows taping on the lot.

Current shows taping with live studio audiences are "The Ellen Degeneres Show", "Conan", "The Big Bang Theory", "Two and a Half Men" and more. If the show you are interested in doesn't have a "get tickets" option, it's probably because they are on hiatus. Many shows take a break during the summer and a small break in the winter.

While tickets can be available on the day of taping to walk ups, a popular show like "Ellen" will run out of tickets long before taping. If you have your heart set on seeing a specific show, apply for tickets well in advance or resign yourself to seeing whatever they have available that day.

Going on the tour will get you behind the scenes and allow you to see sets, back lots and more. Three tours are currently offered; "Group", "Deluxe" and "VIP". There is no guarantee you will see anyone famous, especially during hiatus season, when little filming is going on, which is why I suggest reserving your free ticket to a show taping.

Please note that there are minimum age requirements to take a tour or be a studio audience member.
Image by Rebell18190 under Creative Commons License.
4
CBS Television City

4) CBS Television City

This studio is host to a number of TV shows such as "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson", "Real Time with Bill Maher" and "The Price Is Right".

All studio audience tickets are free and some are available if you walk up to the box office on the day of filming, but popular shows "sell out" fast and it's best to reserve them well in advance. Other shows whose taping might coincide with your visit include "American Idol" and "Dancing With The Stars".

The ticket office is located on the west side of the property, facing Fairfax Ave. The studio is also directly north of The Grove Shopping Center, for those that want to make an entire day of it.

Please note that there are minimum age requirements to be a studio audience member or contestant.
Image by Gary Minnaert under Creative Commons License.
5
Jimmy Kimmel Live & Hollywood and Highland

5) Jimmy Kimmel Live & Hollywood and Highland

Taping next door to the historic El Capitan Theater, Jimmy Kimmel plays host to a never ending line of stars and musicians. Located right across the street from the Hollywood and Highland Complex and Chinese Theater, watching a taping can be the start of an interesting evening. Please note there are minimum age requirements to be a studio audience member.

Enjoy being an audience member, then afterwards walk across the street and explore the theater where generations of stars have immortalized their hands and feet in concrete.

Walk a block or two in either direction and peruse the stores for your fill of inexpensive, kitschy Hollywood souvenirs for the folks back home.

While Hollywood Blvd. itself probably won't have any stars walking around, there are usually street performers, some dressed to the hilt in their favorite super hero costume, waiting to take a photo with the throngs of tourists.

Tip: The exception to this is a movie premiere night. The El Capitan Theater hosts most of the world premieres for Disney movies. The Chinese Theater is still host to many world premieres, with the stars of the movie and their supportive famous friends walking the red carpet before entering the theater. Keep your eyes peeled for press releases listing the upcoming premieres. Sometimes the announcement is only days before the event. The bigger the movie, the bigger the crowd, so plan accordingly and get there early.
6
Runyon Canyon

6) Runyon Canyon

This 160 acre wilderness park perhaps epitomizes the "L.A. hiking experience". You may be disheartened by the many perfectly shaped and attired bodies; women in their yoga attire and men in running shorts, with matching dogs. Locals love this park because it is very dog friendly and many sections allow the dogs to be off leash.

Famous local residents do their dog walking and power walks in Runyon Canyon, but there is no guarantee you can time their arrival. While there are challenging side trails, the main fire road is not too difficult and can be done in 1-2 hours.

This is a nice option if you want to see dramatic, sweeping views of the city and get in a little exercise with your dog. Seeing a celebrity would be a bonus. Parking and entry are free, so you're not committing a lot of resources. Parking is in a restricted residential area and can be difficult during peak times. It can also require adding a couple/few blocks walk from the car to the park entrance.
7
TMZ Bus Tour

7) TMZ Bus Tour

There are several options for taking a tour of Hollywood, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. However, if your goal is also to interact with someone famous, I recommend this one.

The tour guides are occasionally the same people you see pitching stories on the show (yes I know, they're not exactly the type of celebrities you had in mind). But if you're into the gossip and celebrity drama, rather than seeing homes of where stars used to live, this is the tour for you. If you like, they will also do a custom charter tour for your group event or company.

There is no guarantee of course, but because the tour is linked to the TV tabloid show, if the guide spots a celebrity walking down the street, there's a good chance the celebrity will stop and say hello. If the piece makes air, you could even find yourself on TV.

Pick up and drop off is next to the Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd.
8
Nate n' Al's Restaurant

8) Nate n' Al's Restaurant

This modestly priced (for Beverly Hills) restaurant is a Kosher style deli that opened in 1945 and is still a favorite among certain celebrities who live walking distance away.

Across the street from the deli is the Paley Center for Media, which is a archival storehouse for TV, radio and emerging media. It hosts various public and private events year round, which feature Q&A sessions with the stars of the shows they are featuring. It is also open for guided tours.

If you are planning on scoping Nate n' Al's out for food and the famous, check things out across the street as well and see if your visit coincides with one of their celebrity events.

Tip: Best time to see celebrities here is for breakfast.
9
Mr. Chow Restaurant

9) Mr. Chow Restaurant

Mr. Chow opened in 1974 and continues to be a popular spot for the celebrity set. The food is pricey Chinese fusion and dining is by reservation only. The paparazzi are often camped out in front during lunch and dinner. Call well in advance to secure a table during your stay and enjoy the show. A late dinner probably gets you the glitziest sightings, but is also the hardest time to secure a reservation.
10
The Polo Lounge, Beverly Hills Hotel

10) The Polo Lounge, Beverly Hills Hotel

Built in 1912 and nicknamed "The Pink Palace", this hotel has been the focal of Beverly Hills for 100 years. Its main restaurant, The Polo Lounge, was and is a popular spot for the Hollywood elite to broker deals, have a drink or get a bite to eat.

Anyone can go in for a meal or a drink and then walk around the grounds afterwards, but it is very pricey. Unlike some upscale restaurants, their website menu does list prices, so feel free to check it out beforehand and see if you can get past the sticker shock. Parking is valet only and also not cheap.

The entire hotel has been renovated in recent years and the rooms, if you can afford one, are lovely and luxurious. It still remains a quintessential Beverly Hills experience. Tip: Make sure you check out the restaurant's outside seating, as celebrities tend to sit there.
11
The Ivy Restaurant

11) The Ivy Restaurant

Located just outside Beverly Hills, The Ivy is a constant source of photos for the paparazzi and they are generally permanently parked across the street from this restaurant.

The food is pricey nouvelle American and seating options include indoor rooms and an outdoor terrace. The atmosphere is bright and country cottage colorful. Most celebrities hide indoors, but if you eat on the terrace you can watch them coming and going, along with the frenzied professional celebrity stalkers snapping videos and trying to ask questions while the valet gets their car. Reservations are not required, but if you're set on going on a certain day or time, feel free to make one as it can get crowded.
Image by ChildofMidnight under Creative Commons License.
12
Kitson Department Store

12) Kitson Department Store

So maybe you want to see where some of those starlets get their cute outfits? Kitson on Robertson is where they shop. Located just south of the Ivy Restaurant, this entire strip of Robertson Blvd. is known for it's celebrity shoppers and the throngs of paparazzi that follow them around.

Tip: This is a working store, so you can't just go in, hang about the place waiting for stars to pop up and then start snapping pictures. That will get you kicked out. But you can browse as a customer. Most of the items are expensive, but they do carry a few small items that will be in your price range, like cards and hair accessories.

Kitson also has a men's store and a kid's store on the next block north, if you're dying to get something from there for your man or the kiddies back home.
Image by Gary Minnaert under Creative Commons License.
13
House of Blues

13) House of Blues

Located on the famous Sunset Strip, opened in 1994 in part by Dan Aykroyd, James Belushi, Aerosmith and Paul Shaffer from the David Letterman Show, the House of Blues continues to feature up and coming as well as famous blues, rock and gospel singers. The celebrity set has been spotted not just on stage, but in the audience as well, supporting their favorite singers.

I recommend this location and others on the Sunset Strip if you also happen to enjoy this type of club music. The nearby Roxy and Viper Room cater to a different type of music crowd, but they too can feature famous acts and their celebrity friends.

Tickets to shows with popular bands can sell out very quickly. Famous acts can drop in last minute or unannounced, so there is a big degree of luck involved. If you're into the late night club scene and loud music anyways, this may be a fun way for you to try to spot someone famous.
14
Bar Marmont at the Chateau Marmont Hotel

14) Bar Marmont at the Chateau Marmont Hotel

Tucked away right off the Sunset Strip, this hotel built in 1929 has seen its share of famous guests. Certain celebrities still stay here when they come to Los Angeles for it's old school glamour, privacy and Hollywood history. It is perhaps most infamously known as the place where actor and comic John Belushi overdosed and died, in Bungalow #3, in 1982.

Stay overnight in one of their historic rooms, or go hang out at Bar Marmont for an evening of people watching and celebrity spotting. Tip: Go on a weekday happy hour/evening. Celebrities don't bother going during the peak, crowded weekend hours.
Image by Gary Minnaert under Creative Commons License.

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