Wondering how to experience the magic of celebrity life? Whether coming to LA or just admiring the luxury from home, this is how you do it!
Tens of millions of excited fans travel to Los Angeles each year hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrities indulging in fancy lunches, cruising Sunset Blvd in their fancy cars and if they’re lucky, spotting them pulling out of the sprawling gated compounds they call home. Hollywood is the heart of celebrity life, and touring its exclusive neighborhoods has become a multi-million dollar machine – There’s only one problem: with rapidly expanding industry comes lazy commercialized tourist traps.
Lucky for you, we’re here to help weed out the duds! This is your effortless guide to celebrity homes in Los Angeles.
1. Starline Tours
Dating back to 1935, Starline is the most established celebrity tour operator in Los Angeles. Their tours are 2 hours long, during which you’ll get a drive-by view of approximately 50 celebrity homes and several iconic landmarks. I took this tour with my husband and in-laws on a sunny summer Saturday and had a great time. The tour guides are energetic and pretty knowledgeable, although the open-air bus we were on was quite hot, and I would have chosen a few more relevant celebrity homes to see. This is perfect for tourists in LA who don’t have a vehicle, but it will cost you. Current prices are $52 per adult and $42 per child. This is the more expensive tour bus option, but I wouldn’t recommend the cheaper knock-offs.
2. Souvenir “Star Map”
Souvenir Maps are an icon of Sunset Blvd. Since the early days of Hollywood, fans have purchased these so called “Star Maps” from roadside vendors before driving through the winding streets of the Hollywood Hills to see their favorite stars’ homes. For folks who have their own transportation, this is a fun do-it-yourself option that allows you to see the homes you want to see, whereas the bus tour is a set route. There are a couple of drawbacks, though: Keeping them updated, lack of usability and price. Many celebrities move on a yearly basis, and it’s impossible to keep the paper souvenir maps up-to-date. They can also be difficult to read for a tech-obsessed millennial like myself. If you’re looking for a keepsake, this is a great option for you, but it’ll run you anywhere between 15 and 30 bucks.
3. TMZ Celebrity Tour
The TMZ tour is only a couple years old, but it has become a staple in Los Angeles’ most trendy areas. Although this tour is less about celebrity homes and more about infamous celebrity locations and hot spots – the snarky behind the scenes vibe we expect from TMZ made this one of my favorite tours. Guided by a knowledgeable TMZ employee with help from screens showing pre-recorded segments explaining what makes each location infamous, you’ll leave this tour feeling like a gossip connoisseur. Celebrity sightings aren’t guaranteed but on occasion luck strikes! You’ll pay a premium for the possibility of a sighting: $54 per adult and $44 per child. I haven’t been on this tour since they updated their bus, but I hear they just introduced new windowless buses. Share your experience with me if you decide on The TMZ Tour!
4. Velvet Ropes
Velvet Ropes is a revolutionary service that embodies all of the above – celebrity homes, celebrity hot spots and celebrity sightings. The nice thing about this option is it allows you to do and see what you want to, not a pre-set tour, and not a paper map. One of the coolest features is the “beyond the gate” information the celebrity home profiles give you. Once you’ve arrived at your favorite celebrity’s home you can open the home profile to see exclusive photos inside as well as the square footage, the number of rooms, how much the home is worth – a ton of information not available on a souvenir map or tour bus. That said, Velvet Ropes can be an awesome addition to the tour bus options. It can be accessed through VelvetRopes.com or downloaded from Google Play. With three subscription choices, this is the most affordable option: 7-Day Tourist Pass is $2.99, 3-Month Subscription is $4.99, and 1-Year Subscription is $14.99. Velvet Ropes is also the most comprehensive option – offering hundreds of celebrity homes and hot spots where celebrities are all but guaranteed to be. In early 2017 celebrity sightings will be introduced, allowing users to report all their sightings to fellow users nearby.
Los Angeles is spilling over with celebrities, trendy restaurants, and flashy mansions. So whether you decide to go old school with a souvenir map or prefer the new-age experience of Velvet Ropes, don’t come to LA without checking out the exclusive celebrity culture that makes this the entertainment capital of the world.