Expert Tips


Best Shopping in Los Angeles

Shopping in Los Angeles: From ultra glam to totally trendy goods

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 criterion 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 of those two shopping meccas (and on Rodeo Drive, naturally).


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 shops and restaurants. It is anchored by Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's and Macy's and boasts 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 culinary delights found here at Terra, Din Tai Fung, Javier's and the other restaurants scattered throughout. The mall also has loads of special events and pop-up stores, so make a weekend of it with a stay at the brand-new Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel across the street.

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.

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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 are selling everything from beach basics like surfboards, boogie boards, wetsuits, bathing suits, sunscreen and flip flops to hippie jewelry, incense and stoner paraphernalia. 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. Make a fuel stop at On the Waterfront, where they've been serving up Erdinger beer, frozen cocktails, terrific California-style eats and beachfront views of the sand and sun for decades.

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 fog has burned off.

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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 Lululemon and Bonjour Fete to Barnes & Noble, Williams Sonoma Home 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, to be seen and to spot famous faces (the Kardashians do their shopping here).

Jenny's expert tip: The Commons at Calabasas offers free self-parking in the lots off Calabasas Road and Park Granada.

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Santa Monica Place
Photo courtesy of Macerich Company

The old, Frank Gehry designed Santa Monica Place is long gone, replaced with a sleek open-air shopping center anchored by Nordstrom. There are plenty of high-end boutiques (7 For All Mankind, Hugo Boss, Tiffany & Co., etc.) and a varied 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 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 Curious Palate and watch the sunset over the ocean. It's magical!

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Melrose Avenue
Photo courtesy of Jenny Peters

Start out near the Beverly Center and La Cienega Boulevard and you'll find some of the world's top designers on Melrose Avenue, including Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith as well as Decades consignment shop, where couture brands get a second time around. 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. Also, be sure to check out Supreme and Dolls Kill a few blocks south of Melrose on Fairfax, where lines form when either clothing shop has a special release on offer.

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 and funkier the boutiques get.

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Montana Avenue
Photo courtesy of Margaret Rowe

With over 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 Claude Joaillier for gorgeous jewels and other accessories that every woman will adore, then hit Savannah to find the latest fashions. There's perfume, bath and body goods at Larissa Love, furniture at Lovesac or Nest Bedding and even The Massage Place, where you can get all your kinks worked out. Finish up your Montana experience with a meal at Forma or Father's Office, add in a nibble of French cookies at Le Macaron French Pastries, then head a few more blocks west and watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean with your toes in the sand.

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.

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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 Lululemon, Michael Kors, Nike and Banana Republic) and the Nordstrom department store; and everyone loves the great food found there, too. Favorites include La Piazza and Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, where you must try the fried chicken with wasabi, it is divine and Alma, the newest hotspot that specializes in elevated Mexican fare. 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.

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Beverly Center
Photo courtesy of Bénédicte Castillo/The Beverly Center

With over 100 top shops including Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Saint Laurent and Versace, 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; we recommend that especially on a hot day when the cool indoor space just might offer up that perfect item you've been looking for.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: This is the largest indoor shopping center in town, centrally located in the Beverly Hills-West Hollywood neighborhoods, with lots of high-end shopping and dining.

Jenny's expert tip: Park in the structure for $1 per hour, 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!

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

Once a sleepy little boulevard that boasted some nice restaurants 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, with mainstays including Robert Graham, Marine Layer, Warby Parker, Huset and Timbuk2. 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, Lemonade, 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.

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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.

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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