It is no small feat for an independent bookstore to stay in business during the times when even giant chains have caved in. It is a downright marvel when a brand-new bookstore emerges and proceeds to forge upstream against the general trend of brick-and-mortar decline. One such miracle occurred in the midst of the Downtown Arts District in 2011 when The Last Bookstore opened its doors, dazzling eager bibliophiles and inquisitive passers-by with its spacious, beautifully laid-out interior packed full of new and used editions of every genre. With its affordable prices, friendly staff and a massive, continuously changing collection, the bookstore quickly claimed for itself a permanent place among the most popular destination of Downtown LA.
The Fashion District sprawls over 90 blocks of downtown Los Angeles, and is just the place to be if you are looking for bargains or wholesale material. This section of the city is absolutely crammed with stores selling designer clothing, shoes, accessories, textiles and even flowers at unbeatable rates. Other bric-a-brac on display includes toys, lingerie, CDs, prom gowns and kids wear. Over 1,000 such retailers show off their wares at a flea market, which always dons a festive appearance. Weekends are particularly busy, with great discounts of up to 30 percent. Hours of operation and credit cards may vary by store.
Natives in-the-know refer to this outdoor bazaar as The Alley and here is where you will find a quarter mile of goods of every description and wall-to-wall people in search of the perfect bargain. Here in Santee Alley you will find casual and chic day wear and evening wear. There are all kinds of jewelry concessions as well as menswear, children's clothing, lingerie and toys. If you like the idea of searching through piles and piles of merchandise for the best bargains, among throngs of other people who are doing the same thing, you won't want to miss cruising The Alley.
With harder-to-find upscale boutiques as well as the usual mall fare, the Beverly Center is one of the more popular shopping destinations in the city of Los Angeles. The structure itself is certainly unique for a mall, with two floors of shops and a third of food court and cinemas atop five-levels of parking, filling an entire city block. Among the more unique stores found here are Belgravia Collection, Betsey Johnson, Cabochon Fine Jewelry, Alexio, Club Monaco, Politix, Vertex, The Icing and Shauna Stein.
It isn't exaggerating to say that Rodeo Drive contains some of the most expensive real estate on the planet. Remember Julia Roberts' shopping spree in Pretty Woman? Rodeo Drive is where she went. The place boasts of a great mixture of clothing, restaurants, unique shops and celebrity spotting. Be warned, however, some of the stores are so exclusive, shopping is by appointment only.
Whether you are in Pasadena for that New Year's Day bash, known as the Rose Bowl or checking out the Jet Propulsion Lab and Cal Tech, make sure you head to Colorado Avenue - Pasadena's main shopping district. Known as "Old Town," it offers bars, restaurants, bookstores, clothing stores (one of the first J. Crew stores opened in this old-money bastion), clubs, movie theaters and more. Credit cards accepted vary by store.