Celeb Sightings On a Budget With Jessica Radloff

By day, Jessica Radloff pursues her goal of show-biz dominance in Los Angeles. By night, the star of Oxygen Networks’ Campus Ladies is much like everyone else—a celebrity obsessive constantly on the lookout for her favorite stars. In this column, Radloff shares the wisdom of her experience so you can more easily track down your most cherished celebs next time you’re in La-La Land. And she even tells you how to save some cash while doing so. No need to thank her—she knows how much it means to you.

With spring break just around the corner, thousands of tourists will descend on Los Angeles, all hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite actor, or—dare I say it—reality star!  (Yes, I’ll even admit to an obsession with American Idol and The Bachelor.) 

Of course, with the current economy money is tight, and the average tourist isn’t working with the kind of bankroll that the typical movie star does. 

The good news? You don’t need to shell out for a meal at celeb-friendly hangouts like the Ivy in order to catch a glimpse of your favorite celebrity. Believe it or not, stars go grocery shopping, hit the drugstore and stop off for a cup of joe at the coffee shop too. And you can catch them in action in these low-cost environments—if you know the right places to look.

Consider the following a handy check list on where to find your favorite personalities performing everyday activities. Just make sure you have a keen eye and the ability to restrain yourself if you spot Russell Crowe in front of you ordering a cappuccino!

1) Bristol Farms, Gelson’s and Vicente Foods
Yes, I’m talking about the grocery store. But not just any grocery store. Bristol Farms and Gelson’s are the top markets for the best produce, delis and bakeries. Visit the Gelson’s on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood and the Bristol Farms on Doheny and Beverly Blvd. in West Hollywood, and you’re almost certain to spot a certain someone. Case in point, I ran into Halle Berry at Bristol Farms and Jordana Brewster at Gelson’s. And a visit to the Bristol Farms in Beverly Hills just might yield a sighting of that Matthew McConaughey guy and his family.

Vicente Foods is in Brentwood, on San Vicente Blvd. and Bundy Drive, and it’s where Jennifer Garner is often seen pushing daughter Violet around in the oversized carts. I even had a 10-minute conversation with Betty White there in the produce section!

2) Rite Aid, Beverly Hills
Rite Aid is the place to pick up your prescription or stock up on name-brand toiletries, make-up and snacks.  Spend some time at the Beverly Hills location on Canon Drive, and you might just run into Ashton Kutcher or Sidney Poitier.  And yes, that’s Paris Hilton strolling the beauty aisle.

3) Woodranch BBQ
A bit off the beaten path at the much-visited Grove shopping center, this down-home barbeque spot is a must if you want to spot your favorite contestant from American Idol.  Case in point, Jason Castro from AI Season 7 was a regular visitor at Woodranch, most likely because American Idol tapes next door at CBS Studios.  And it doesn’t hurt that the food is superb!

4) The stores along Melrose Place and Melrose Avenue, La Cienega Boulevard and San Vicente Boulevard
The quiet serenity of Melrose Place will make you feel as though you’re on an exclusive shopping spree through London. Celebrities love the privacy of the tree-lined streets and non-descript entrances.  The key here is to look out for tinted dark Escalades dropping off celebrities for a fitting or two.

Old-school Melrose Avenue is still a must for any visitor, but for the trendier, upscale scene, head west of La Cienega, where you will find such shops as the newly opened Kitson, Beckley, and long-time staples Urth Caffe and Dr. Tea. This particular Urth is used all the time as a meeting spot for Vince and the gang on Entourage, but there are always celebrities hanging out even when the show isn’t filming. And as recently as last week, I saw Lindsay Lohan run into Dr. Tea for a quick fix. Even if you just stroll along the oak-lined street for some window-shopping, you’re likely to run into celebs like Patrick Dempsey, and Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi!

5) Barneys New York (but in Beverly Hills) and the Golden Triangle, Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills is often referred to as the Golden Triangle because the tony city’s shopping and restaurants are confined to an area within the borders of Wilshire Blvd., South Santa Monica (referred to as “Little Santa Monica” by the locals), and Crescent Drive. For the top celeb sightings, stroll along the cafes and boutiques on Little Santa Monica (for sushi, dine at Yu-N-Mi, where you will not only run into the likes of Emmanuelle Chriqui and Amanda Bynes, but enjoy sushi that rivals that of Nobu). Also, visit the stores along Beverly Drive and Canon Drive for great celeb sightings! And Saturdays at Barneys are not to be missed. Stop by one of the exquisite make-up counters for a trial run and you might see Ali Larter stroll by.