Hollywood Then and Now: 11 US Destinations That Keep Celebrities Coming Back
When it comes to celebrity tastes, it's hard to keep track of what's trending — is being vegan hip or annoying these days? When did overalls make a comeback? What the hell is bone broth?
So when something stands the test of time — and seems to make Hollywood's hit list year after year — it's worth taking notice. And though Kylie Jenner may wear 10 different outfits a day and Carrie Underwood has gone back and forth with the whole plant-based diet thing, celebrities continue to be creatures of habit when it comes to one thing: vacation destinations.
As far as sipping wine, hitting the slopes, working on that totally-not-spray tan, or finding ultimate spa R&R goes, celebs are really just like us — they play favorites and come back to the same spots over and over again. Scroll through the slideshow to explore the classic US locales — and resorts — that have stood the test of time (and trends).
Palm Springs is a natural weekend getaway for those in the SoCal area seeking high-end shopping, warm desert temperatures, and sprawling spa resorts — aka, celebrities and anyone trying to escape the 405 traffic and DTLA smog. Even more so than other destination on this list, Palm Springs is deeply rooted in a tradition of celebrity vacationing; the desert town first became popular in the 1920s, when celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and Cary Grant used it as a quick escape from the media and buzz of Hollywood. Since then, Palm Springs has diversified its brand, expanding into music and film festivals, boutique hotel properties, and family-friendly attractions — but it continues to be popular with Hollywood's biggest stars.
Where to stay: Channel Frank Capra at La Quinta Resort & Club; he called the winding, 45-acre grounds (and 41 pools) his “Shangri-La of Screenwriting.”
Just north of LA in Ventura County, Ojai is a favorite amongst young celebrity families looking for a secluded getaway or second home; Anne Hathaway, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, and Reese Witherspoon have all frequented this quiet retreat. While the landmark five-star Ojai Valley Inn & Spa may draw visitors in, it’s the town’s thriving art scene, legendary “pink moment” sunset, and signature pixie tangerines that make them stay. That's because there’s a distinct modesty to Ojai; despite having a rich history spanning generations of celebrities, locals stay relatively quiet about their hometown’s A-list clientele, instead directing attention back to the unique bits that make up the heart and soul of the town.
Where to stay: Despite its popularity (and many TV appearances), the spectacular Ojai Valley Inn & Spa remains a haven for celebrities and regular folk alike.
San Diego is like LA’s cool cousin from a nearby school who surfs, says “gnarly,” and sneaks into hotel pools at night; there’s just something undeniably cool about this SoCal beach locale without it trying too hard (or really at all). Celebrities love San Diego's championship golf courses, award-winning beaches, and up-and-coming restaurant scene; both Brian Malarkey and Richard Blais operate restaurants in this thriving culinary landscape.
Where to stay: In north county San Diego, Carlsbad’s Omni La Costa Resort & Spa is a serene resort that was once a favorite golf getaway of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Bob Hope.
For those looking to stay more south, the Hotel del Coronado is as lovely as it is historic; the property opened in 1888 as the world’s largest resort and has been popular with celebrities virtually ever since. Everyone from Katherine Hepburn to Oprah Winfrey has spent time at this beachfront property.
The relationship between Napa Valley and Hollywood certainly isn’t new news — since pioneers like Charles Krug and the Korbel brothers first landed in the valley in the late 1880s, it seems like this AVA destination has only become more exclusive and luxurious. Stacked with Michelin-starred restaurants and world-class wineries, Napa Valley really does have it all: panoramic vistas, five-star resorts, and wine. So. Much. Wine. (But never too much, obviously). It’s no wonder that many TV, sports, and even political personalities have decided to make their connection to this NorCal wine region a bit more permanent; director Francis Ford Coppola, race car driver Jeff Gordon, and even Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi have stake (read: $$) in Napa wineries.
Where to stay: The trio of Napa Valley Auberge Resorts — Solage, An Auberge Resort, Auberge du Soleil, and Calistoga Ranch — each offer distinct experiences alongside breathtaking architecture and unbeatable amenities.
Though it may not have the extravagance of South Beach or the glitz of Aspen, the love affair between Hollywood and Scottsdale is long; Hollywood first began visiting this desert oasis in the 1950s, when the likes of Zsa Zsa Gabor and Bing Crosby made frequent pilgrimages to the city. In the more than 60 years since, Scottsdale’s championship golf courses, spring training, and serene landscape have dazzled everyone from Arnold Palmer to Barack Obama.
Where to stay: Hotel Valley Ho is the OG Scottsdale hotspot and celebrity hideout.
For the rich and famous craving a once-yearly Winter wonderland, Aspen remains the premiere place to see, be seen, and hit the slopes. Sure, most are more interested in showing off designer ski suits and sipping on hot toddies than crushing some black diamonds — but that’s what makes Aspen special: it does après ski as well as it does mountain trials. This diversity of activities hasn't gone unnoticed; pretty much every major celebrity has spent time in Aspen at one point or another — it’s basically part of the illuminati orientation program.
Where to stay: There’s really nothing else quite like The Little Nell, an iconic Aspen property with ski-in/ ski-out access and 28 years of hosting the likes of Beyoncé (yes, THE Beyoncé), Goldie Hawn, and Mariah Carey.
Anyone who’s anyone in Hollywood has spent a summer — or at least a summer weekend — in the Hamptons, a group of towns on the East End of Long Island notoriously synonymous with decadence, white parties, and bougie beach days. But LA imports aren’t the only ones spending time on the beaches of this summer retreat — nor are “celebrities;” TV and film stars set up shop alongside Wall Street billionaires, professional athletes, and a small population of loyal locals. Today’s residents — including Martha Stewart, Sean Combs, Jennifer Lopez, and Gwyneth Paltrow, who all own second (or third, or fourth) homes in the Hamptons — are helping to pave the next chapter of a tradition that reaches back into the late 1800s, when the New York Times compared the destination to the Garden of Eden.
Where to stay: Gurney’s Montauk embodies the Hamptons’ classic elegance in its oceanfront location, 2,000-foot private beach, and scenic dining room.
Just a short ferry ride from L.A., Catalina Island has long been popular with movie stars, politicians, and even film productions — since 1910, it’s been the set for more than 40 TV shows and films. Famous visitors include John Wayne, Charlie Chaplin, Taylor Swift, and Katy Perry; Marilyn Monroe even lived on the island for a year during World War II. Catalina was also once owned by William Wrigley Jr., who chose the destination for the Chicago Cubs’ (which he also owned, because money) spring training from 1921-1951.
Where to stay: As the private former mansion of William Wrigley, Jr., Mt. Ada offers some of the most spectacular views (and accommodations) on the island. Stays at six-suite property come with top-level amenities and perks, including a complimentary round of golf and golf cart to use throughout Avalon.
South Beach was the first section of Miami Beach to be developed, and has basically been killing the game via art deco architecture, outdoor parties, and dance clubs ever since. To be fair, the city’s renaissance really began in the 1980s, when Miami Vice and Gianni Versace brought Miami into the spotlight — and helped to transform the city into a celebrity destination marked by extravagant and unapologetic indulgence. Since then, South Beach’s white-sand beaches, glamorous hotels, and Latin culture have attracted celebrities including Rihanna, Drake, and the Kardashians.
Where to stay: Celebrities (and anyone lucky enough to step inside) love The Setai’s ultra-opulent suites, insane ocean views, and Lenny Kravitz-designed sound booth.
Perched cliffside overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Big Sur includes some of the most striking stretches of coastline along California’s iconic Highway 1. The Central Coast destination encompasses many of the state’s most breathtaking examples of unspoiled natural beauty; highlights include the oceanfront McWay Falls, the rock formations at Pfeiffer Beach, and a series of stunning (yet secluded) hiking trails at local state parks. Besides the unforgettable views and Instagrammable experiences, celebrities love Big Sur for its seclusion — despite increasingly popularity, the destination has retained the integrity of the landscape and culture. Basically, it’s an escapist’s dream vacation.
Where to stay: When celebrities need some time to reconnect with nature — or at least escape the paparazzi — they consistently turn to Big Sur’s Ventana Big Sur. Natalie Portman, Orlando Bloom, and Kate Winslet have all enjoyed the resort’s panoramic ocean vistas, acclaimed onsite restaurant, and spectacular hillside location.
Anything goes in the Big Easy — and amongst Mardis Gras celebrations, crawfish boils, and a thriving music scene, celebrities blend in with the rest of the madness that makes up this quirky Louisiana city. While TV and film tax incentives have drawn more and more set locations to New Orleans over the past few years — The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 12 Years a Slave, and Looper were all filmed there — celebrities including Bob Dylan and Helen Mirren have long been fans of this city. Many others have followed suit — Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, and Nicolas Cage have all owned property here in the past 10 years.
Where to stay: With its three-decade-long history, suite accommodations, and thriving arts scene, the Windsor Court Hotel treats every guests like a celebrity — even if you're not former guests Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z.