For some of you, any trip without shopping is not a vacation. Los Angeles is of course known for the incomparable Rodeo Drive, where in just a few short blocks you can see so many stores for high-end designers that your credit card just may melt if you linger too long.
Outside of this intimidating choice, where does a mere mortal shop? Here’s our top 5:
3rd and Fairfax, Los Angeles
The Grove opened in 2002 to much fanfare as a different type of shopping experience. It is designed to be like a charming small town square — think Disneyland shopping mall. Sinatra plays over the loudspeakers as you stroll down what feels like Main Street in front of Banana Republic, Ugg, Zara, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Girl, Apple, and more. There are a few fine restaurants including Fat Cow owned by Gordon Ramsey.
It features a Bellagio-in-Vegas style water fountain show set to music (much, much smaller, of course) and was for years the home of Access Hollywood. You could take a break from your shopping and watch Mario Lopez and Maria Menounos interview all kinds of celebrities right there in the mall.
Nowadays you have to just hope for a random celebrity sighting — which isn’t unusual. We’ve seen Alessandra Ambrosio, Minnie Driver, and David Beckham shopping here. So keep your eyes peeled — you just may get that celeb sighting.
Robertson between Santa Monica Boulevard and Brighton Way
Robertson is a street where they say celebrities go when they “want” to be photographed. It’s about four blocks of higher-end boutiques including Kitson, Kate Spade, Chanel, Lisa Kline, Curve, Vionnet, Alice & Olivia, and more. Also here is the Ivy, a world-famous restaurant where you are almost certain to see someone famous having lunch under the white umbrellas. It was seen in “Get Shorty” and has hosted all the A-listers. Ashley Judd actually worked here before she became Ashley Judd.
If you can’t get into the Ivy, try Newsroom Cafe across the street — it’s another celebrity hotspot.
The Citadel Outlets
100 Citadel Dr #480, Los Angeles
Well we can’t always shop like movie stars, but we sure want to LOOK like we do. To this end we bring you the Citadel Outlets.
The Citadel gets its name from its distinctive design — it was originally a tire plant built in 1929 in the form of an Assyrian Castle. The tire plant closed in 1978 and in 1983 the City of Commerce purchased the building to protect it from demolition. In 1990 the outlets opened — and have been selling merchandise at 30-70% off ever since.
Today it boasts 115 stores with a dizzying array of major brands — Adidas, Aeropostale, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Coach, Guess, Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Levi’s, Nike, Steve Madden, Tommy Hilfiger, and more, more, more.
3rd Street Promenade
3rd Street between Broadway and Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica
When our clients on our Los Angeles tours ask us where to spend some extra time on their other days in L.A., we often tell them to head to the Third Street Promenade. It’s especially great if you have teens in your group as it will definitely keep them happy — there are performers, movie theaters, major retailers, ice cream — you can’t go wrong here. Plus it’s a short walk to the Santa Monica Pier and the beach, so it’s a no-brainer for an all-day foray into Santa Monica.
It’s also very pedestrian-friendly — since the 1960s the three blocks of the Promenade have been closed to auto traffic, so its wide walking area is open to wander in a dream state without fear of L.A. traffic running you down.
Melrose Avenue between Santa Monica and La Brea, Los Angeles
Melrose has a spectrum of shops from high-end boutiques to trendy sneaker shops to antiques to vintage clothes. Michael Jackson used to love shopping at the antique stores here and at Off the Wall on Cienega just north of Melrose.
For luxury go to the west end of Melrose Avenue, including Melrose Place. Drop your AMEX at Marc Jacobs (8400 Melrose Place), Diesel (8401 Melrose Place). On Melrose proper the high-end continues, with Fred Segal (8118 Melrose Avenue), Vera Wang (8445 Melrose Avenue), Diane von Furstenberg (8407 Melrose Avenue), and Helmut Lang (8382 Melrose Avenue).
Of course on this part of Melrose you can also visit DASH (8420 Melrose Avenue), the boutique owned by the enterprising Kim Kardashian and family.
As you move further east you get to more of the interesting shops that exhibit the latest in LA trends. It was full of punk and new wave shops in the 80s and has set the standard for gritty L.A. trendiness since. The original Johnny Rockets opened here, and it once was home to the Burger that Ate L.A. At the far end you’ll run into Pink’s Hot Dog Stand, which has been an L.A. institution since 1939.
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~ Michele G, El Segundo, California
- “LOOK NO FURTHER”
I can recall doing a bus tour of LA a number of years ago, and that tour did not remotely compare to what we experienced with our number one guide Rivers. Our family of four, including two boys aged 13 and 10, had the best day possible.
~ Lindsay O, Hepburn Springs, Australia
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Eight hours seems like a lot of time, but the day just flew by. It was so fun and interesting. I would do this again with no regrets.
The Kozars, Lethbridge, Canada
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A big thank you to Scott for our fantastic LA tour!! We got all the sights in, in one day including a last minute shop @ Dash!! Scott was full of information and my family including my 3 year old had a fantastic day!! Highly recommend !!