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Hollywood-style vacations for the average Joe

Celebrities may live a glamorous and exciting lifestyle, but even they need a place to unwind and relax. Many settle on classic vacations like a Palm Springs spa retreat or a whirlwind party in Monte Carlo. Although many of these destinations typically cater to VIPs, pricing out the rest of us, some welcome everyone with first-rate luxuries and trendy scenes. If you’ve always dreamed of living a life of fortune and fame, then follow in the footsteps of some of Hollywood’s heavy hitters for a star-studded vacation at down-to-earth prices.

Miami, Florida

With its white sandy beaches and year-round summerlike temperatures, Miami has been a favorite celebrity destination for years. More recently, South Beach, dubbed the “American Riviera,” has ripened into a hotspot for the likes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ricky Martin as reported by Foxnews.com. This area is known for its Art Deco hotels, fashionista boutiques, and parties until dawn in its happening clubs. All this action would suggest exclusive prices, but Miami remains a destination accessible to anyone.

Many A-listers prefer to repose at designer boutique hotels famed for original artwork and first-rate amenities such as the Sagamore Hotel, where it’s rumored Kate Moss, Pamela Anderson, and Adrien Brody have been on scene. Unfortunately, prices aren’t as alluring, starting upwards of $200 per night for a standard suite in the summer low season, $345 for an ocean-front room. However, properties with similar style and offerings can be had for less. The Park Central Hotel, for instance, keeps up with artsy design details, a central location and ocean-view rooms, and similar amenities like Wi-Fi, pools, and onsite dining, all starting at $110 per night.

Low cost airfare also makes Miami an affordable destination. Since so many airlines offer frequent service to the city, fares remain competitive, starting at around $150 round-trip from the East Coast and about $100 more from the West Coast. Many members of the glitterati frequent hot clubs such as Crobar and Mansion in South Beach, but it can be tough to get in as an unknown. If you want to party like a celebrity, and avoid waiting in the terribly long lines, ask the concierge at your hotel to put you on a VIP list. If shopping is your forte, but you can’t afford Gucci or Dolce and Gabbana, then look for shops like C. Madeleine’s for ultra-chic duds at vintage prices. “It’s a little off the beaten path, but definitely a find,” says Suzie Sponder of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

For further tips on saving money, read our Miami Travel Guide.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Located on the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula, the once sleepy fishing village of Cabo San Lucas has become a hip destination for the crème-de-la-crème of Hollywood stars. Its year-round tropical weather, high-end resorts, and posh restaurants have attracted celebrities like Brad Pitt, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, and Orlando Bloom in the past year.

Many come to blow off steam at the chic nightclubs, while others enjoy invigorating spa treatments or participate in rigorous outdoor activities. Some even take chartered cruises or scuba diving trips. Tour companies will arrange these activities, as well as more affordable ones like horseback riding, whale watching, and surfing lessons for any Joe Schmo. The area is also fast becoming a golfer’s paradise with four world-class golf courses, including the Jack Nicklaus-designed El Dorado that has seen the clubs of Tiger Woods. If $230 greens fees seem a little out of your price range, there are several other courses in the area that offer high-caliber courses at competitive prices, some as low as $70 for nine holes.

A trendy place where the famous stay is Los Cabos’ original resort, the One&Only Palmilla Resort, where rooms start at $450 for weekends and $375 for the weekdays during the summer low season. John Travolta liked the resort so much that he celebrated his 50th birthday here with a guest list that included Oprah Winfrey, Meg Ryan, and Barbara Streisand. For a slightly less extravagant stay with plenty of frills, the Hotel Finisterra is a more affordable alternative offering ocean-view rooms starting at $135 per night during the summer, and free stays for the fourth and seventh nights. Built on the cliffs at the southernmost point of the Baja, the hotel is within walking distance of the marina and many restaurants.

To save a little extra cash, plan a vacation during the summer off-season. You might not see as many celebrities, but the money left in your pocket will give you far more bragging rights.

Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale isn’t only a place where celebrities visit; many have bought first and second homes here. The downtown area maintains a small town feel, but offers many of the indulgences stars are accustomed to such as fine dining, upscale boutiques, five-star hotels and resorts, and year-round warm weather. Many activities including hot air ballooning, horseback riding, and river rafting keep the famous and not-so-famous entertained. Day trips to the Grand Canyon and Mexico, as well as desert jeep tours, are also available. When it’s time to come indoors, the city has many places to blow off steam and cool down, even for Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn who were recently spotted enjoying martinis while listening to live music at a local bar.

As reported by Forbes.com, Val Kilmer, Jessica Simpson, Robin Williams, and Jerry Seinfeld have relaxed in the comfort of the AAA Five-Diamond Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, the area’s “it” resort. The southwestern-style property attracts many golf aficionados and hosts the Annual PGA Tour FBR Open, while famous spa amenities are available for those in need of a little TLC. Rooms are attainable starting at $169 per night in the summer. A less expensive option with similar amenities, but fewer spa services, is the Scottsdale Camelback Resort where rooms start at $110 in the summer.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Sitting on the outskirts of Yellowstone National Park, with a view of the Grand Teton Mountains, Jackson Hole has become a safe haven for stars who want to escape the hectic hustle of city life. Many, including Harrison Ford and Sandra Bullock, have even bought first or second homes in the area. The peaceful, natural atmosphere of Jackson Hole attracts a steady stream of visitors, especially with the rise of high-end resorts, superb dining, and outdoor activities.

The Spring Creek Ranch, located 1,000 feet above the town of Jackson Hole, is a major draw for headliners. Forbes.com also noted that the resort has hosted celebs like Jim Carrey, Uma Thurman, Matthew McConaughey, and Ron Howard in their private homes on the estate, while everyday guests can check into the main lodge for rates starting at $150 per night. The resort’s Wilderness Adventure Spa offers a relaxing setting to help forget the worries of everyday stresses, and its Wildlife Safaris bring adventure to those looking for a little exploration in the great outdoors. Whitewater rafting, horseback riding, hiking, and nature walks are also available. During the winter months, movie stars shed their designer attire for down jackets and thick mittens. To follow suit and hit the slopes too, everyone else can take advantage of value-added ski packages.

Jackson Hole is an affordable destination year-round, but prices can escalate during the summer months. The best time to visit to save a little extra cash is during the winter-off season. For lower room prices year-round, staying at one of the hotels in the downtown area instead of at one of the resorts in Teton Village can be a cost-effective option.

For further information on lodging and activities, visit the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort website.

Vancouver, British Columbia

With a location that allows for quick jaunts to either the mountains surrounding Whistler Resort or the ocean engulfing Victoria Island, Vancouver has become one of the hottest destinations for filming television and movies. Hence, many celebrities either own homes or vacation here. Its nod to host the 2010 winter Olympics and accolades from Conde Nast Traveler in 2004 are only a few indicators that the city will be on people’s minds for years to come.

While on vacation or location, it’s rumored that celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Alba, and Jennifer Lopez stay at the stylish Opus Hotel, where rates start at $299 CAD ($263 US) during the summer. The Opus is located in the heart of Yaletown, surrounded by luxurious restaurants and oodles of boutique shopping. For those looking for a lower price tag, the Hotel Le Soleil is a fancy boutique hotel in the center of downtown, where prices start at $180 CAD ($158 US) in the summer. Cheaper lodging is available throughout the city at chain hotels, but staying at the Hotel Le Soleil is about as close as one can get to celebrity status without breaking the bank.

After a day of exploring the city, or wrapping up a shoot, one of the hottest places to grab a bite to eat is at Cin Cin. The Mediterranean-style restaurant has served the likes of Janet Jackson, Ben Affleck, and Heath Ledger, and is a dining institution in Vancouver. The city also has many hip nightclubs where the beautiful people love to mingle. The Skybar, with a retractable roof, brings out many of the city’s brightest stars. Food is definitely a splurge, but not cost-prohibitive.

Not everyone has the funds or the fame to live the lavish lifestyle of a celebrity, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t vacation like one for just a few days. Whether it is outdoor exploration, skiing, sunbathing, exotic nightclubs, world-renowned spas, or a peaceful hideaway, each of these destinations has something different to offer, but all are adored by the hottest in Hollywood while being easy on the pocketbook.

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