When it comes to finding that perfect gift for holiday giving, there's no place like Los Angeles to pick up that special something. Locals know that it's likely to be 75F and sunny on the first day of Hanukkah, and on Christmas Day, too. But that lack of wintry winds and leafless trees has never stopped Angelenos from getting into the holiday spirit.
In fact, every year you can find Santa Claus and his elves in a faux-snow wonderland at The Grove, where they pull out all the stops during the holiday shopping season, which kicks off in mid-November.
Look up as you stroll through this popular retail mall, and you just might see snowflakes falling softly from the sky (always at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.). Girls (and their moms) can even have brunch with Santa there, at the American Girl Place Cafe!
The Citadel Outlets turns into a giant present during the holiday season in L.A. — Photo courtesy of Citadel Outlets
Meanwhile, over at the Citadel Outlets, where discounted name brands lure bargain shoppers, they erect the world's tallest live-cut Christmas tree, host a massive lighting ceremony and live concert and then tie up the whole place with the world's largest bow.
Naturally, every mall in Southern California also gets gussied up during the holidays, and so do some of L.A.'s best shopping streets, like Beverly Hill's fabulous Rodeo Drive, Santa Monica's Montana Avenue and the chic-and-trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, where fine art galleries and shops with locally handcrafted items are particularly appealing for discovering that unique gift.
Downtown on Olvera Street, there are even more handcrafted goods, specifically with a Mexican influence. Meanwhile in Santa Monica, the Airport Outdoor Antique and Collectible Market is a cornucopia of gifting possibilities, open on the first and fourth Sunday of each month.
Out in Pasadena on every second Sunday of the month, the famous Rose Bowl Flea Market brings 2,500 vendors together, all selling antiques, clothing, memorabilia and more.
And while the special Christmas ornaments that shoppers find in L.A. often involve Santa Claus on a surfboard (who's inevitably been made in China), there's plenty of other great gift items that are specific to the "City of Angels."
Renowned local designers like Kevan Hall and Sue Wong offer up fashions to wow the most discerning females; jewelers based in town (including Margaret Rowe and Simon G.) create adornments that are sure to become family heirlooms; and quirky companies like Sisters of Los Angeles (SOLA) manufacture a terrific collection of home-decor goods with a distinctly California- and Angeleno-influenced style.
So gas up the car, dust off the credit card and head into Los Angeles, where you're sure to find the perfect holiday gifts for everyone on your list.
Santa Claus visits The Grove shopping mall every holiday season — Photo courtesy of The Grove