Los Angeles is the second-largest city in the United States, and this sprawling, sweeping metropolis offers many different opportunities for vacationing visitors to have fun. Riding thrill rides in amusement parks, taking a boat to Catalina, surfing and people-watching on the beach, nightclubbing, mountain hiking and star-gazing in Hollywood are just a few. But people in the know realize that shopping in Los Angeles is also great fun. So much so, that in some ways shopping in this hub of entertainment almost seems like a sport.
Unlike the enclosed, traditional shopping malls of many American cities, most shopping venues in Los Angeles are actually outdoor affairs. In Los Angeles shopping is usually alfresco, making it ever so much more pleasant than the normal indoor variety. Many of this great city’s shopping areas even feature outdoor courtyards that permit food and drink, but they do double duty as rich hunting grounds for celebrity-watching.
Shopping in LA combines two activities that are popular with tourists on vacation: the thrill of the hunt for hard-to-find items coupled with the spectator sport of constantly keeping at least one eye peeled for celebrities. And just like the city, shopping is incredibly diverse. Whether you’re looking for expensive couture items or fine antiques, high-priced bling, kitschy souvenirs or other funky merchandise, there are at least a few places in LA that will have them up for sale.
But Los Angeles is such a huge city, where are tourists even to begin? In some ways the answer depends on what they want to buy. But no matter what they’re looking for, all shop-a-holics must at least stop in for a morning or afternoon at the ever-so-chic Rodeo Drive.
Even just hearing the name “Rodeo Drive” strikes a chord that resonates through any eager shopper’s heart and soul. Located in tony Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive fully deserves its reputation for expensive, sophisticated high fashion. Cartier, Gucci, Prada, Ferragamo, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana all entice celebrity fashionistas to spend huge amounts of money there every day. Whether you’re looking for a pair of high-end blue jeans, an exquisitely tailored suit, glamorous designer jewelry or stylish shoes, you’ll be sure to find it in one of the shops along Rodeo Drive. And who knows, maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of one of those celebrity fashionistas that haunt the place. Truth be told, Rodeo Drive is a unique shopping experience that’s almost unrivaled.
LA vacationers who are shoppers also visit West Hollywood in order to simultaneously shop and enjoy superlative pop culture experiences along Melrose Avenue and Melrose Place. Much like Rodeo Drive, the Melrose area showcases a large number of internationally-renowned designer boutiques. Carolina Herrera, Balenciaga or Oscar de la Renta, anyone? But unlike Rodeo Drive, Melrose also features an assortment of vintage shops for those more down-to-earth shoppers who like to focus on buying new-old items.
Robertson Boulevard may provide the best opportunity for combining possible celebrity-sighting with a fine bit of shopping. Tourists who would love to shop shoulder-to-shoulder with celebrities should consider making a trip to this shopping neighborhood.
The entertainment industry’s influences are scattered throughout LA, and the city’s shopping venues are no exception to this rule. Entertainment’s effects on the shopping scene can be seen in more ways than just the high-end shopping that is available in several of the city’s districts. LA offers a large assortment of recorded music stores as well as bookstores that specialize in works relating to film, television, theater and other performing arts. The Hollywood & Highland Mall complex is an energetic shopping and dining area that also tips its hat to the film industry. Conveniently located in Hollywood near the Walk of Fame, Hollywood & Highland connects to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre as well as the Kodak Theater, home of the Academy Awards.
If your shopping tastes run to the less expensive, shopping on Broadway in central LA offers the less-polished, less-posh, more reasonably-priced shopping that much of working-class LA enjoys. The merchandise there includes brand-name merchandise at bargain basement prices, but watch out for counterfeit or pirated goods.
As you can see, each shopping neighborhood has its own distinct reputation and personality. Some are chic and tony, others are hip and funky. And some are downright cheap. Los Angeles, surprisingly, even offers more conservative shopping areas, so whatever type of shopping “sport” you like, you’ll be able to shop til your drop during your Los Angeles vacation.