A favorite pastime for locals and visitors alike, there is no shortage of options for Los Angeles shopping. Local boutiques and international chains can be found in shopping districts scattered across L.A., from the high-end retailers on Rodeo Drive to the trendsetting styles for sale on Melrose and beyond. Here’s a guide to some of the best L.A. has to offer:
Rodeo Drive/The Golden Triangle
Santa Monica Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard and Canon Drive
The so-called Golden Triangle holds more wealth and fine stores than most small countries. At its center is the renowned Rodeo Drive. It is the street on which Julia Roberts had her shopping spree in “Pretty Woman” where designer stores such as Tiiffany’s, Cartier, Chanel, Bally, Gucci and other well-heeled notables call home. This is also the street that few people who don’t spend their life in front of the camera can afford. On nearby Wilshire Blvd., there is the Regent Beverly Wilshire (seen in “Beverly Hills Cop”), Niketown, Barneys, and the infamous “Winona” Saks Fifth Avenue.
Between Beverly Blvd. and Third St.
This small street could be seen as a diorama for hip Los Angeles. Featuring the exclusiveness of Beverly Hills and the cutting-edge cool of Melrose, this small stretch is where Hollywood hipsters with real money shop. Visitors will find Curve’s modern edgy outfits, high-end clothing discounts at Maxfield’s, an Industry MAC store and a shimmering Georgio Armani Home store. This is also the place to spot celebrities, usually noshing at the Ivy, one of the best restaurants in the city, or the Newsroom Café, across the street from the Ivy in a building housing New Line Pictures and a great kids bookstore named Storyopolis.
Between San Vicente and La Brea Ave.
This is the tale of two streets. Since the early 80s, the stretch of Melrose between Fairfax and La Brea avenues has helped define shopping in Los Angeles. The storefronts alone are works of pop art, and the shopping area is still packed with hipsters trying to score the latest cool attire. Red Balls, Slow and Von Dutch offer great clothing selections. Aardvark’s and Wasteland specialize in secondhand items. On the west side of Fairfax Avenue, Melrose has emerged as a high-end paradise. Lower-key stores such as miu miu, the legendary Fred Segal’s, Costume National and Forinara all have made it a deserving alternative to the Robertson Boulevard experience. Everything from lingerie at Agent Provocateur to great home accessories at designer Jonathan Adler’s store round out this definitive L.A. shopping experience.
Between La Cienega Blvd. and La Brea Ave.
Third Street has grown to become a great shopping walk. There are a variety of fantastic antique stores, boutiques such as Aero & Co and Polka Dots & Moonbeams, and specialty stores such as Zipper’s modern home accessories and unique gifts. Grab a healthy bite at Real Food Daily, some diner fare at the tiny Who’s on Third, or some succulent tapas at the Spanish eatery Cava. Further east down the street is the upscale restaurant A.O.C., owned by the chefs behind the acclaimed Lucques and Border Grill. For those looking to explore beyond the confines of Los Angeles, a guidebook to virtually anywhere else in the world is available at the small-but-packed Travel Bookstore.
Sunset Blvd. at Sunset Plaza
Eurotrash, tourists, and celebrities populate this chi-chi stretch of Sunset Blvd that is dotted with outdoor cafes and boutiques. Many of the top boutiques, such as Madison and Anna Sui, can be found here. Tip: a few blocks away at the Standard hotel, visitors can get low-cost, cutting-edge salon services.
Near 15th St.
This street tucked away in Santa Monica caters to mostly the industry types who flock to this sunny oasis of stores sequestered in a secluded upscale neighborhood. Cafes and quiet boutiques provide a backdrop, as the upscale clientele lazily stroll down the street, many walking pooches or window-shopping. The gem in this street’s string of stores is Pearl, owned by Jack’s daughter Jennifer Nicholson. It features a unique clothing line as well as accessories from the hottest new designers.
Between Wilshire Blvd. and Hollywood Blvd.
This boulevard is a major north-south tributary and an east-west dividing line between the west side of L.A. and the rest of the city. It’s easy to overlook the many fine establishments here. For those looking to uncover a rare piece of hardware for their house there’s Liz’s Antique Hardware, great skirts jeans can be found at L.A.’s best vintage store Jet Rag and some simply great duds are at American Rag. Rocket Video offers obscure foreign films and the best hot dog in the city can be found at Pink’s. Amazing Peking Duck is located nearby at Lucky Duck, as well.
Downtown between Santee and Maple Streets and Olympic Blvd. and 12th St.
The Los Angeles fashion district is a fascinating collision of cultures that makes this area a great microcosm of Los Angeles in all its shine and grime. Santee Alley features lots of knockoffs of designer shoes and clothing at really low prices. A great time to go is the first Friday of every month, when the California Mart has sample sales. The wares aren’t limited to clothing; visitors can find everything from reams of fabric to Powerpuff Girl piñatas.