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Expert Tips

 

L.A.'s 10Best-loved shopping spots, ranging from glam to groovy



Los Angeles is a big, sprawling city, with little shops and sexy boutiques on just about every corner. But the sprawl makes choosing the place for a day of shopping a logistic decision; do you want to shop near the beach, in the heart of Beverly Hills or even out in the San Fernando Valley? And the location is only the first criteria needed to plan your day; next, you'll have to choose the sort of shopping experience you're up for. There are gigantic malls (the Beverly Center is a monster, for example), beachfront strolls (don't miss the Venice Beach Boardwalk) and whole streets devoted to selling you something you actually cannot buy anywhere else on the planet (try Abbot Kinney Boulevard and Melrose Avenue for that sort of thing). But be ready to face the crowds, for shopping is a serious sport in L.A., especially in the incredibly popular spots, like the Grove and the Commons at Calabasas. Perhaps that is because of the terrific shops, restaurants and movie theaters found there, but it just might be because famous Hollywood faces are constantly seen strolling around in both those two shopping meccas. For a super VIP experience, head to the Westfield Century City Mall, where The Private Suite experience will keep you removed from the crowds in secret suites, complete with personal shoppers – for a hefty fee.


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Westfield Century City Mall
Photo courtesy of Westfield Century City Mall


Westfield Century City Mall got a massive $1 billion makeover in 2017 and now ranks as one of Southern California's top shopping destinations. The AMC Century City 15 movie theaters are the only thing that remained the same, as this large outdoor mall changed up everything else. Shoppers can find over 200 new shops and restaurants. Anchored by Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's and Macy's and boasting a massive Eataly that combines an Italian specialty food market with three different (and delicious) restaurants. Smaller shops range from the Apple Store to Ted Baker, John Varvatos and Michael Kors. Sample the incredible smoked fish and bagels at Wexler's Deli and try The Crack Shack's fried chicken and the other restaurants found here. The mall also has loads of special events and pop-up stores, so make a weekend of it with a stay at the welcoming InterContinental Hotel just up the block.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Ramped up into a wonderland of shopping and eating, the Westfield Century City Mall is now among the best in SoCal.

Jenny's expert tip: For the ultimate shopping experience here, book The Private Suite, where VIPs and Hollywood stars hang out in private rooms complete with personal shoppers.

Read more about Westfield Century City Mall →


The Commons at Calabasas
Photo courtesy of The Commons at Calabasas


Like the Grove in the Mid-Wilshire District of L.A., the Commons at Calabasas is another Caruso Affiliated shopping center and it feels very similar. Beautiful gardens and fountains make up the center of the outdoor mall, while Mediterranean-influenced structures housing boutiques, restaurants and the Edwards Grand Plaza stadium-seating multiplex line the perimeter. It's such a pleasant place that people come for the ambiance alone. But there are plenty of well-known stores to shop, of course, from Kade Spade and Lululemon to Barnes & Noble, Williams Sonoma and Sephora. Plus, this a favorite place for Hollywood types who live in mansions nearby to stop in, so keep your eyes open, as you never know when Kim Kardashian or her clan might wander by.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: The San Fernando Valley's most popular place to shop, be seen and spot famous faces (the Kardashians do their shopping here).

Jenny's expert tip: Bring your children along on Tuesday nights and let them enjoy the special Kids Club events held just for them every week at the Commons in Calabasas.

Read more about The Commons at Calabasas →


Venice Beach Boardwalk
Photo courtesy of Visit California


There's no other beach scene in Southern California quite like the one you will find on Venice Beach. Starting with the fact that it's the only place that we have a boardwalk right along the sand, where shops selling everything from beach basics like surfboards, boogie boards, wetsuits, bathing suits, sunscreen and flip flops to hippie jewelry, incense and stoner paraphernalia await the crowds that flock there, especially on weekends. Add in the chance to see the famous Muscle Beach outdoor workout area, the running-chainsaw jugglers, the drum-circle bangers and all the gorgeous bikini-clad gals and ripped guys who cycle by on the bike path and there's no question that the Venice Beach Boardwalk is a must-visit L.A. shopping area.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Every visitor to SoCal has to hit the Venice Boardwalk once, for it's a unique scene that has to be seen to be believed.

Jenny's expert tip: It is often overcast and slightly gloomy at the beach in the mornings, so schedule your visit to the Venice Beach Boardwalk in the afternoon, when the gloom has burned off.

Read more about Venice Beach Boardwalk →


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Beverly Center
Photo courtesy of Beverly Center


With over 100 top shops including Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Tiffany's and Salvatore Ferragamo, the Beverly Center has been a Los Angeles shopping fixture since it opened in 1982; it recently had a complete makeover, too. Towering eight stories high, the mall has appeared in numerous films and television shows; it truly is an iconic shopping structure! Bloomingdale's and Macy's are here, too, as well as restaurants that sit mostly on street level. Inside, there's a feeling of spacious grandness and luxury. The best way to experience this huge mall is to go in without an agenda and just stroll â€" especially on a hot day when the cool indoor space just might offer up that perfect little item you've been looking for.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: This massive indoor shopping center is in the heart of the Beverly Hills-West Hollywood neighborhoods, within easy striking distance of most L.A. neighborhoods.

Jenny's expert tip: Park for only $1 for four hours, then jump in an elevator to the sixth floor, as that's where the shops begin in this massive structure. The escalators will take you forever!

Read more about Beverly Center →


The Grove
Photo courtesy of The Grove


Day or night, summer or winter, the Grove always teems with shoppers. It's such a popular place that teens like to hang out there, taking selfies by the animated music fountain in the center of the open-air mall; adults like to hit the diverse shops (from Apple to American Girl Place, UGG Australia, Michael Kors, Nike) and department stores (Nordstrom, Crate and Barrel); and everyone loves the 14-screen Pacific Theatres movie palace. There's great food at Laduree Restaurant and at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, too (try the fried chicken with wasabi, it is divine), and just a stroll away (or take the kitschy Grove Trolley) is the Original Farmer's Market, where a collection of classic restaurants awaits. Visit The Gumbo Pot there for an authentic taste of New Orleans!

Recommended for Best Shopping because: The Grove truly is the center of shopping in Los Angeles, a place that has been packed with patrons since it first opened in 2002.

Jenny's expert tip: Enter the valet parking on The Grove Drive and avoid the traffic jam that happens in the shopping center's parking structure just about all the time.

Read more about The Grove →


Melrose Avenue

Start out near the Beverly Center and La Cienega Boulevard and you'll find some of the world's top designers on Melrose Avenue â€" Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith and the Fred Segal boutique, where many different labels call home. Continue on towards La Brea Boulevard and the shops change, transforming into funky, edgy boutiques packed with reasonably priced, trendy outfits. So whether you've got a punk sensibility or a more elegant sense of style, there is a retail outlet somewhere on Melrose Avenue that will yield up a treasure. And part of the fun is spending a day meandering along the very-long street (you'll have to drive to see it all), making unique discoveries along the way.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Always a street where imaginations have run wild, Melrose Avenue is a heady blend of top-dollar boutiques and slightly grungy T-shirt shops.

Jenny's expert tip: Choose your style, for Melrose near La Cienega Boulevard sports very high-end shops, while the further east you go, the edgier the boutiques get.

Read more about Melrose Avenue →


Montana Avenue
Photo courtesy of Gelato-go

With more than 150 high-end shops selling everything from home furnishings to children's clothing, Montana Avenue's shopping district spans over 10 blocks of beautiful places with unique products. Make sure to stop into Moondance Jewelry Gallery or Designs by Musti for gorgeous jewels and other accessories that every woman will adore, then hit Savannah to find the latest fashions. There's cool home furnishings at The Quilted Monkey, perfume, bath and body goods at Larissa Love and even a Massage Envy outpost, where you can get all your kinks worked out. Finish up your Montana experience with a meal at Forma or Fathers Office, a superfood drink at Beaming Organic Superfood Cafe, a nibble of Italian gelato at Gelato-go or a luscious treat at Sweet Lady Jane Bakery, then head a few more blocks west and watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Chic and relaxed at the same time, the Montana Avenue shops in Santa Monica are a beautiful way to get some much-needed retail therapy.

Jenny's expert tip: Find a parking spot at a meter anywhere on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica between 17th and 10th streets and start strolling to find plenty of cool boutiques and restaurants.

Read more about Montana Avenue →


Santa Monica Place
Photo courtesy of Macerich Company


The old, Frank Gehry designed Santa Monica Place is gone, replaced with a sleek open-air shopping center anchored by Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's. There are plenty of high-end boutiques (7 For All Mankind, Pandora, etc.) and a happening restaurant scene on the top floor, where views of the ocean pair with crafted cocktails or fine California wines. Park in one of the numerous garages that surround the mall, and make sure to take a walk down the neighboring Third Street Promenade as well, where even more shops, restaurants and some often seriously strange people watching await. And the Santa Monica Pier is just a few steps away, as is the beach and the Pacific Ocean.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Completely transformed into a sleek new shopping mall, Santa Monica Place has it all, from major department stores to trendy boutiques and highly rated restaurants.

Jenny's expert tip: Shop in the late afternoon, then go up to the top floor and settle in with a nice glass of wine at the Sonoma Wine Garden and watch the sunset over the ocean. It's magical!

Read more about Santa Monica Place →


Abbot Kinney Boulevard Shops
Photo courtesy of Drew Glickman, Abbot Kinney Real Estate


Once a sleepy little boulevard that boasted some nice restaurants (Hal's and Joe's, both gone now) and a few art galleries, these days Venice's Abbot Kinney is the hottest shopping spot in town. New boutiques seem to open every week â€" think TOMS Flagship Shoes, Will Leather Goods, the Mystic Journey Bookstore, Marine Layer, Warby Parker, Huset, Timbuk2, just to name a few. So start to stroll at the corner of Venice Boulevard and Abbot Kinney and don't stop until you hit Main Street. The discoveries here are endless. And don't worry, there are plenty of great places to eat, too, including Gjelina, Plant Food + Wine and Felix.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Abbot Kinney Boulevard has transformed into a sleek, sophisticated shopping mecca, while still retaining that slightly funked-out Venice vibe that makes it a unique destination.

Jenny's expert tip: Park on Electric Avenue, just north of Abbot Kinney, or use the valet at one of the street's many restaurants, as finding a space on Abbot Kinney is almost impossible these days.

Read more about Abbot Kinney Boulevard Shops →


Rodeo Drive
Photo courtesy of Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive needs no description, as it is certainly the most famous shopping street in the world, thanks to Hollywood. So many movies have filmed scenes here it is too hard to count; but as the ultra-luxe shops come and go, one thing remains the same: this is the Beverly Hills spot where money rules. Bring plenty of it when you enter Tiffany's, Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, Harry Winston or Cartier to buy jewels; you'll need deep pockets at Chanel, Valentino, Dior or Prada, too. Be sure to stop into Rimowa, where they sell the best rolling luggage on the planet; if you've been busy, you can fill your suitcase with all your purchases and easily roll it all the way home.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: It's Rodeo Drive. Singularly the most famous shopping street in the world, bar none.

Jenny's expert tip: Find metered parking in the lots located between Santa Monica Boulevard and Little Santa Monica; go to the downstairs level of the two-story lots to find the most spaces.

Read more about Rodeo Drive →


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Meet Jenny Peters

Jenny Peters – aka Jet Set Jen – is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist, editor and party columnist specializing in travel, entertainment, film, food, wine, fashion and the other good...  More About Jenny

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