Celebrity 101

New York Travel Blog

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As an unofficial New York City tour guide to friends, family, friends of friends and family, complete randoms who I meet on the Internet and at bars (hey, I’m a friendly person!), the initial questions I often get pelted with include “Where do all the celebrities hang out? How do we go about seeing someone famous? Where can we find them?”

Since jaded New Yorkers like myself are accustomed �" and, therefore, oblivious �" to the rich and famous, we pass them every day like they’re so-called “normal people” (not to mention, I also work as a celebrity reporter and interviewing names like George Clooney and Richard Gere is my everyday job!). In recent months in non-work-related situations, I’ve spotted Paul Giamatti riding the subway in the uptown direction, Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo dining at Buddakan in Chelsea, Cameron Diaz strolling through the park while her bodyguard watches over her from afar. And no one even bats an eyelash in their direction. My point? If it’s the star-sightings you seek, keep your eyes peeled at all times.

While there is no designated venue where celebrities meet weekly to discuss pressing issues like Botox, spray tans and teeth whitening, here are a few spots where Hollywood’s hotties and heartthrobs have been known to visit on occasion:

415 Lafayette St.
It was an odd scene last time I happened upon this chic Village eatery: Demi Moore and hubby Ashton Kutcher were breaking open the bubbly with pals Madonna, Penelope Cruz, Shakira and others. I guess the beautiful really do keep beautiful company.

Rockefeller Center
47th to 51st Streets, between 5th and 7th Avenues
With an array of shows and news programs filming in and around 30 Rockefeller (e.g. The Today Show, Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O’Brien), it’s not uncommon to spot Tina Fey and Brian Williams in the elevator of the NBC headquarters or among the masses in its surrounding plaza.

Bungalow 8
515 W. 27th St.
The setting for many movies and chick lit reads, this mod Meatpacking club is harder to penetrate than a steel wall with a toothpick (it’s ever-present “No Vacany” sign is not just for show). Still, you can loiter at its entrance and admire those who are on the list (the Olsen twins, Lindsay Lohan, and their posses of trendsetters favor this joint) breeze right on by.

The Time Warner Center
Columbus Circle
With designer stores such as Coach and Hugo Boss, fancy social establishments like Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the swank Mandarin Oriental all contained within its boundaries, this Midtown mecca is a celebrity sighting waiting to happen.
With the finest New York shopping to boot, you’ll find the hip and fashionable, from Claire Danes to Mischa Barton, perusing the countless boutiques and one-off shops in SoHo and the Lower East Side. Often, they’re not even incognito.

Le Cirque
151 E. 58th St.
Consistently ranked as one of the world’s best restaurants in numerous reputable polls, it’s no wonder that Le Cirque draws crowds from all corners of the globe and frequently appears on Page Six as a prime locale for star-gazing.

289 10th Ave.
Another lounge in the pretentious Meatpacking District along what is “affectionately” referred to as Bottle Service Boulevard, Marquee has been rumored to see Paris Hilton dancing on tables, Josh Hartnett making out with his leading lady in a secluded booth, and DJ AM spinning on stage, among many, many other (oftentimes, embarrassing) scenarios. Nearly as hard to gain access as neighbor Bungalow 8, you’d be smart to find some way to work your name on the coveted “list”.

Hotel Gansevoort
18 9th Ave.
You don’t have to book a room at this posh establishment to enjoy its finest assets (read: its clientele). Grab a seat at the bar and watch as its inhabitants come and go as they please. You might even observe something worth reporting to Gawker Stalker (link: http://gawker.com/stalker).

Central Park
Scores of movies film scenes on the leafy grounds of Manhattan’s epicenter �" you just have to be there at the right time. Best of all? It’s completely free, and no cheeky bouncer is going to deny you admittance.

P.J. Clarke’s
915 3rd Ave.
Exuding a vibe of old-school New York at its finest, P.J.’s boasts the classier crowd �" like regulars J.J. Abrams and Renée Zellweger �" at its Midtown East location. Ask to be seated in the far corner beside the old-fashioned coat rack: It’s an excellent spot from which to survey the room, and if you’re lucky, Sam Waterston may trouble you to help hang his hat (it happened to me!).

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photo by: herman_munster