Culture + Style

Get Starry-Eyed at L.A.’s Top Sites for Celebrity Spotting

Keep your eyes peeled for stars on actual movie sets. (Photo: Universal Studios Hollywood)

Crooner Randy Newman famously belted out, “I Love L.A.!”, and you’ve gotta admit, Randy was definitely onto something. There’s plenty to adore about the City of Angels, like its incredible dining scene and world-famous perfect weather. But there’s one facet that truly sets Los Angeles apart from other great cities: it’s the world’s de facto entertainment capital and a haven for the stars.

Home to dozens of movie and television studios, Los Angeles has been a town where dreams are made — or crushed — and has ranked as a celebrity-watcher’s paradise since the industry’s earliest days. While the places and names may have changed over the years, we’ve found your best bets for snagging a selfie with today’s stars of stage and screen. From favored hangouts for the likes of Jennifer Lawrence to Sylvester Stallone, we say, “hooray for Hollywood,” indeed.

The Chateau Marmont

Chateau Marmont
Clink glasses with the stars at the famed Chateau Marmont. (Photo: Alamy)

One of the most infamous party spots of the rich and famous, the Chateau Marmot has enjoyed a long history of hosting celebrities that dates back to Hollywood’s golden age. Known for its secluded bungalows and low-key bar, the part-hotel, part-eatery, part-apartment complex located on L.A.’s famed Sunset Boulevard has wooed show business elite since it opened in 1929.

It quickly became a favorite hangout for the likes of Billy Wilder and F Scott Fitzgerald, and today, stars ranging from from James Franco to Lindsay Lohan have lived at the hotel for a period of time, notoriously slugging back libations at its famed Bar Marmont. The Chateau has found itself the subject of everything from films (Sofia Coppola’s 2010 flick Somewhere was shot entirely on its premises) to song (Lana Del Rey alludes to it in her atmospheric track “Off to the Races”), ensuring its legend will continue to live on.

Universal Studios Hollywood

There’s no better way to spot a famed actor or actress than in their natural habitat: on a studio lot where films and shows are shot. Fortunately for those hungry for a brush with fame, many lots offer exclusive tours that give visitors a peek at both the production of current projects and take a look back at legendary ones, and there’s none better than the tour at Universal Studios.

Once the filming locale for countless productions, including films like Psycho and Jurassic Park and televisions shows like Gilmore Girls, the studio’s tram tour takes visitors around its many studios and backlots. You’ll see replicas of Chicago streets (where ER was filmed) to New York City (as seen in Transformers). One highlight is a stop at a small lake where the nefarious mechanical shark from Jaws resides — and has a penchant for popping out of the water to say hello to passersby.

Catch

Catch Los Angeles
Fresh seafood always graces the menu at Catch. (Photo: Alamy)

Recently named by The Hollywood Reporter as the hottest restaurant in Los Angeles, Catch is a seafood hotspot that’s recently lured everyone from top rappers, like A$AP Rocky, to veteran actors, like Sylvester Stallone. While securing a reservation could be a stretch (the owners recently stopped taking them via the booking site OpenTable), it’s worth a try to check out both its crowd of power players and expertly crafted seafood dishes, which include everything from whole snapper to sushi.

Can’t get a reservation in Los Angeles? Try venturing to their other location in New York’s Meatpacking District, a spot that’s just as buzzy.

Spago

This Los Angeles landmark run by the world famous chef Wolfgang Puck (the same guy in charge of the fancy grub at the post-Oscars soiree, The Governor’s Ball) has been L.A.’s go-to spot to see-and-be-seen since its 1982 inception.

Spago’s chic Beverly Hills location and equally luscious menu (think fresh Maine lobster and pillow-soft French omelets) have made it so famous it’s almost turned into a celebrity cliche, and led Zagat to once call it one of the most iconic restaurants in all of Los Angeles. Jack Nicholson, Oprah Winfrey, and Leonardo DiCaprio have all been spotting wining and dining their days away at Spago’s tables.

Honorable Mentions:

The city houses a slew of other celebrity-friendly spots. Try your luck at these other popular hangouts:

Melrose Place’s Fig + Olive restaurant is teaming with so many celebrities that owners installed a private, paparazzi-free entrance for its famous clientele; West Hollywood’s exclusive members-only SoHo House is a favorite for Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lopez who both dine and relax there; the studio tour at the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank is along the lines of its Universal counterpart and includes the a plethora of in-production projects as well as the preserved set from Friends; celebrity chef Curtis Stone’s pricey European eatery Maude has become a Beverly Hills hideaway for the rich and famous for good reason: it was named the Best Restaurant in Los Angeles by the respected regional publication LA Weekly in 2015.