If the idea of a shopping spree in LA fills you with excitement, then read on, for I have visited 5 great shopping places dotted all over LA and here’s what you can expect.
My first love in LA is Santa Monica. I’ve visited this styly seaside town over 20 times and I’m never disappointed. The shopping here is along 3rd Street Promenade over four pedestrianised blocks that end at Santa Monica Place. Waaay back, the Place used to be a sad little shopping mall and all the action was stretched along the street, but it has had an extreme makeover and Robinsons May has made way for Nordstrom and Bloomingdales. There are 90 shops, restaurants and food outlets on the roof top where you can snatch views of the ocean from the cabanas as you eat your burger.
For a drink in the late afternoon sun and a plate of to-die-for edamame for $4 that have been tantalisingly sizzled in salt and spices, go to the top floor and plonk yourself down at Zengo. Happy hour is 4-7pm Monday – Friday. A great spot to wait for your shopping other half (be they male or female) who will probably be late thanks to stores like Anthroplogie, Zara, Apple Store, Aldo, Banana Republic, Gap – and the rest.
The Grove is very near Hollywood and Beverly Hills. If you buy a Hop On Hop Off bus ticket for a day or 2 days, the red route will take you there. It has a really popular farmer’s market and consequently lots of great eateries all lining the outdoor areas, and more inside. You’ll find many of the same stores as Santa Monica but they also have American Girl Store (if you have a little girl who is into dolls, you’ll never come out of here!), Top Shop, Top Man, J Crew, Crate and Barrel and more.
It’s very quaint with a trolley car that circles a water fountain and plenty of benches to rest your weary shopping legs. Food outlets include the legendary Umami Burger which is now a chain, but they make GREAT burgers. So great in fact that Ashton Kutcher tweeted about them when they first opened and they’ve never looked back. The Cheesecake Factory is here (serving a LOT more than cheesecake. Huge portions. Reasonable prices) and you really should poke your head into the American Girl Store Cafe just to gawp at the children sitting with their dolls at tables having lunch.
Westfield, Century City
Westfield Century City is close to Beverly Hills and has a great mix of high end and high street brands. Macy’s and Bloomingdales are the department stores for all your cosmetic and fabric stroking needs. I had an amazing mini facial at Fresh. If you haven’t come across this brand (I hadn’t), it’s a skin care range that also includes perfumes and lippies and is all made with natural products.
Rachel did a gorgeous job cleansing the makeup off my face, then applying a hydrating mask make from black tea which absorbed into my skin over about 10 minutes, then she applied a serum to make me wind back the clock at least 10 years and finally an SPF moisturiser – which I bought. If you spend $100 you get one of these facials free.
I asked advice on where to eat lunch (they have some great restaurants where you should keep your eyes peeled for stars) and was recommended Seasons 52. Great choice, because today’s special was this lobster flat bread. Divine!
Oh and watch out for celebs because the entertainment TV show Extra often films here. I got here via the Hop On Hop Off bus, having switched from the red route at Beverly Hills to the yellow that actually goes all the way out to Santa Monica. But not wanting to come back to West Hollywood via the beach, I cabbed it back for under $20 in rush hour.
If you really want a bargain, a day trip to the Citadel Outlets is a must. Or heck, if you’re like my sister and mother you’d probably want to know that there’s a Doubletree Hotel right next door! Allow about 45-minutes to get here by bus/taxi from Anaheim. Over 100 outlet stores are here including high street brands like Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Guess, Nine West, Nike and Adidas, but you’ll also drool over the bargains at DYNY, Kate Spade, Armani Exchange, BCBGMaxazria and Michael Kors.
And here’s a very cool idea for Kiwi and Aussie travellers: our flights leave late at night from LAX so when you check out of your Anaheim/Disneyland hotel you can book a Karmel VIP Tour to the Citadel Outlets where you get access to their VIP lounge (free WiFi and snacks) to store your luggage for the day, receive a bunch of extra coupons for even more discounts and then get transferred to the airport to catch your flight home. Note: there are luggage stores at the outlets – and it’s been known to happen! (You book this through your travel agent, it’s US$89 per adult and includes a $20 gift card).
No seriously, it IS possible to shop and not just stare in Beverly Hills. Of course you’ll want to wander along Rodeo Drive making sure to make eye contact with everyone just in case they are famous. But while some shops are appointment-only (like House of Bijan menswear, whose celebrity clients typically spend $100,000 a pop and whose owner parks his iconic yellow and black Bugati out the front for plebs like us to take photos of), you will find the odd store you can browse through that won’t require a down payment on a house.
But what a lot of people don’t realise is that the street parallel, Beverly Drive, is full of affordable shops like Aldo shoes, Anthropologie, Crate and Barrel, Gap, Levi’s, Lucky Brand, Lululemon, Mac Cosmetics and you can even pick up your Nespresso – and hopefully spot George Clooney! So you can shop in Beverly Hills, get the bag and go celebrity spotting at the same time. Again, the Hop On Hop Off (HoHo) is the easiest way to get here.