Whether you are going to L.A. to visit Aunt Martha or on a business trip, most people expect to see a celebrity or two while visiting La La Land. But realistically, in a city of over 4 million people, unless you know where to look or have a cousin that is paparazzi, you may not see a solitary star. One thing I found to be true is to go to their hangouts (like parks, pharmacies, markets) during the week and preferably in the morning. Most of the city is at work and this is a good time for them to do their thing without the whole world watching, except you of course!
While you are celebrity spotting, keep in mind a few practical tips. Do not interrupt them during a conversation, phone call or while they are tending to their children. Have a little respect and only approach if they are free and even then be brief, shake their hand if they offer it and move on. Ask before snapping random photos, they will generally pause and allow you to do that if they have the time.
Here's a quick rundown of some very likely spots to catch a momentary glimpse of some of your favorite stars.
As soon as you arrive at LAX, Los Angeles International Airport, keep your head up and your eyes peeled as you are more likely to see a celebrity or two here than anywhere else. From my years in the airline industry I have been fortunate to have conversations with Raquel Welch, Dolly Parton, Charlie Pride and many more just because I was at the airport. Timing is everything. Baggage claim areas are a good place to hang for this level of people watching. During awards season (January to March usually) is a great time to catch celebs coming into town.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard is also an obvious location to check out some celebrities, particularly when they are premiering a new movie. Even if you miss a red carpet event, you'll still have fun matching your own foot and hand prints to those of Hollywood icons such as Clark Gable, Meryl Streep, Paul Newman, Johnny Depp, Jack Nicholson or even Marilyn Monroe. I had a blast there and this 75 year old cornerstone of Hollywood makes for some great photo ops.
The Ivy Restaurant at 113 S. Robertson Blvd. has served as a celebrity lunch spot for years. If the cute white picket fence surrounding the outdoor dining area blocks your view, just hold tight and wait for stars like Paris Hilton or Luke Wilson to leave the restaurant and wait for their valet parked cars. You may have to fight the papparazi for curb space, but you'll have a story to tell when you get home.
Mornings are a good time to take a run or walk in Runyon Canyon to do a little star gazing. Justin Timberlake, Jessica Beal and Zac Ephron are just a few that frequent this Hollywood Hills Park. If you have a dog handy, there are no-leash trails where you can let Nipper run free.
Celebs love to shop, I mean who doesn't? I saw a few celebrities roaming in Kitson on Robertson Blvd. Kitson has even expanded and have several off-shoots on the same block such as Kitson Kids and Kitson Men. They're great boutiques offering unusual gifts, T's and accessories. While we are discussing shopping, also try the legendary Fred Segal's on Melrose Avenue or Barney's of New York where I hear the cosmetic counter is a good place for gawking. Aston Kutcher has been seen at the Rite Aid in Beverly Hills on occasion.
You never know who you'll run into at the local supermarket. Try Vicente Foods in Brentwood, Bristol Farms in Beverly Hills, Ralph's in Calabasas or Gelson's in West Hollywood.
Of course if there is a trendy new restaurant, a celebrity fundraising event or Lakers game you'll always find someone of notoriety in the mix. Just don't go to Los Angeles expecting to see them everywhere, they do try to keep some privacy. Follow these tips and you are sure to get something on film, be sure to have it charged up for the big moment.
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