By Vic Block

Four people walk into a tavern: Oprah Winfrey, Owen Wilson, Britney Spears – and you.  If this sounds far-fetched, it could be true – IF you were vacationing in Maui.

That Hawaiian island is among destinations around the United States that attract Hollywood A-listers and other famous people when they’re seeking a bit of R&R.  Whether you’re a star-struck movie fan or just a lucky traveler, it’s possible to cross paths with the rich and famous at destinations that range from likely to less anticipated.

Long stretches of golden sand beaches, sprawling Haleakala volcano and graceful waterfalls are among touches of Mother Nature that attract travelers to Maui.  Those seeking active pursuits against this backdrop may opt for hiking and mountain biking, surfing and snorkeling, fishing and finding other favorite pastimes among a long list.

It’s not clear how many of these interests appeal to Oprah, Owen and Britney.  What is known is that they’re among celebrities who have spent downtime on the island.  Others include Kate Hudson, Ben Affleck and Selena Gomez – and, from a very different walk of life, Bill Clinton.

Other views, and vibes, greet visitors to Miami Beach, and Jennifer Lopez, members of the Kardashian clan and other familiar faces have been spotted checking out what it has to offer.  They often turn their attention to South Beach and the eclectic list of appeals there.

The sparkling sand is lined by art-deco hotels, high-end boutiques and trendy restaurants and bars.  This is a natural environment for people-watching and whom better to set your sights for than stars of the silver screen and television tube.

If you’re more of a snow bird than sun, sand and surf seeker, you might prefer to join the likes of Michael Douglas, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore and Mariah Carey who have frequented Aspen, Colorado.  Along with breathtaking slopes that challenge skiers and snowboarders, it offers a choice of warm-weather activities including mountain hiking, biking, whitewater rafting, boating and climbing.

Given its popularity among the rich and famous, along with the well-to-do and not so well known, Aspen is home to fine-dining restaurants, fancy boutiques and fashionable spas. Some familiar faces seeking an escape from the exclusive luxury ambience of Aspen opt for Sun Valley, Idaho.  It became the first destination ski resort in the United States when it opened in 1936 and continues to appeal to a swanky clientele in spite – or, for some, because — of its more laid-back atmosphere.  Among those for whom this spot has appeal are Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford and Richard Dreyfuss.

Wagering replaces outdoor winter activities in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Much of the action in that city of lights and nightlife, games of chance and glittering entertainment takes place indoors.  Savvy savers who stay away from the lure of cards and dice can enjoy a variety of vacation activities without blowing their bank account.  It’s not known if that applies to Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and Gwen Stefani, who are among entertainers who have been spotted along The Strip.

Night life also gets top billing in New Orleans, Louisiana.  That’s only natural for a city nicknamed the Big Easy and Birthplace of Jazz.  While fun and frivolity are abundant there, it also offers fascinating history, a rich cultural mélange, and an A (Art) to Z (Zoo) list of things to see and do.  That inviting choice may be among reasons why Sandra Bullock, Nicolas Cage and Brad Pitt purchased homes there, and Beyonce, Serena Williams and Harry Connick, Jr. are among celebs who have visited.

If New Orleans is where jazz music was born, a claim disputed by some other towns, there’s little argument with the boast of Nashville, Tennessee that it’s the Birthplace of Country Music.  No wonder Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Blake Shelton own homes there.  A number of now-famous singers got their start warbling tunes at the Bluebird Café, and other celebrity hang-outs include The Pancake Pantry and Capitol Grille.

Some stars who prefer New England set their sights on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, a maritime magnet for seafarers since Norse voyagers showed up around 1000 AD.  It became a summer haven for city dwellers beginning around the end of the 19th century, and, more recently, for Meg Ryan, Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal.

As long as he’s in Cape Cod, Jake Gyllenhaal has been known to make the short trip to

nearby Martha’s Vineyard.  That island, believed to have been named for a relative of an English explorer who traveled there in 1602, is a popular, affluent summer colony.  Today’s visitors stroll through its quaint towns, enjoy inviting beaches and check out the five lighthouses that have marked its shoreline since “the Vineyard” was a fishing and whaling hub in the 1800s.  They may recognize singer-songwriter Carly Simon or actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, who have houses there, or President Barack Obama who has been known to drop by.

Enjoy these “star picks” of vacation destinations for their attributes alone or for the chance of rubbernecking with your favorite celebrity.

About the Author: After gallivanting around the U.S. and more than 75 other countries, Retiree Victor Block retains the travel bug. He believes travel offers a wonderful education, and says he still has a lot to learn. He loves experiencing new destinations and cultures, and his stories have won numerous writing awards.