smart spending

Secret celebrity hideaways

New Orleans
New Orleans
  • Median cost of a home: $174,800
  • Per capita income: $23,559

Sandra Bullock, who was born in northern Virginia, is also partial to the Big Easy. She adopted her infant son, Louis, from New Orleans and has a home there. She joins fellow celebrities Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who also have a residence there.

Actor Matthew McConaughey, who has worked in New Orleans and spent time there with his family, told Scene magazine earlier this year that he loved the "characters" of the city.

"It's a very creative place to walk around, engage people," he said. "You're just meetin' characters everywhere. You are meeting people who are who they are, not trying to be something different."

Other than its famed Mardi Gras celebration, New Orleans has other appeals that keep celebs coming back. Award-winning chefs such as Emeril Lagasse, Donald Link and Sue Zemanick have restaurants in New Orleans, drawing stars from other realms into their orbit.

The beat of jazz and its live music entices big names, too. In May, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival attracted national headliners ranging from Lauryn Hill to Jon Bon Jovi.

Celebrity do-gooders also flock to the Crescent City for the opportunity to make a difference. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, stars eagerly took to the beleaguered city's cause. Pitt, for example, formed a foundation that helps to rebuild the Lower 9th Ward.

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