Out­let bar­gains, high fash­ion, and ev­ery­thing in be­tween

Travel Guide to California - - CONTENTS - BY LENORE GREINER

A Shop­per’s Par­adise

The Golden State’s iconic malls, bo­hemian shops and posh bou­tiques can as­tound even the most jaded so­phis­ti­cate. An en­tic­ing range of Cal­i­for­nia’s eclec­tic cre­ativ­ity awaits vis­i­tors through­out the state, from theme park col­lectibles to home­grown surf­ing gear to fine wine. Food­ies can sam­ple fresh-made cheeses in ar­ti­sanal food shops. Fash­ion­istas will love San Fran­cisco’s lux­u­ri­ous haute cou­ture haunts. And art lovers can bring home an orig­i­nal Cal­i­for­nia land­scape from a red­wood-scented artists’ en­clave.

Cal­i­for­nia shop­ping sa­faris may en­tail sight­ing a celebrity in a Los An­ge­les bou­tique, ar­riv­ing at a mall by boat or hunt­ing bar­gains be­hind the walls of a recre­ated Me­sopotamian palace. And su­per shop­ping op­por­tu­ni­ties en­tice savvy shop­pers in mil­lions of square feet of re­tail space.

So­cal Glam­our

Malls sprawl through­out Los An­ge­les, crowned by Rodeo Drive’s strato­spheric price tags. But you’ll find sig­nif­i­cant bar­gains in rings, neck­laces and other pieces at prices up to 70 per­cent less than those in Bev­erly Hills in the his­toric Jew­elry District, one of the coun­try’s largest. More than 1,500 jew­elry show­rooms stand roughly on 5th and 8th streets to the north and south, and Broad­way and Olive to the east and west. Be­hind a fa­cade of bas-re­liefs of Baby­lo­nian princes and heraldic griffins, the Citadel Out­lets holds 700,000 square feet of re­tail bar­gains inside a one-time 1929 tire plant mod­eled on an an­cient Assyr­ian palace. And be­tween the Farmer’s Mar­ket and The Grove shop­ping cen­ter, the Grove Trol­ley pro­vides shop­pers free rides along First Street.

The West Hol­ly­wood De­sign District fea­tures high-end fash­ion, in­te­rior de­sign, fur­ni­ture, dec­o­ra­tive arts and lux­ury brand stores on Mel­rose Av­enue and Robert­son and

Bev­erly boule­vards. Sun­set Boule­vard’s world fa­mous Amoeba Music is the na­tion’s largest music em­po­rium, stock­ing an over­whelm­ing se­lec­tion of vinyl, CDS, tapes, posters and col­lectibles—at rock-bot­tom prices.

In Santa Mon­ica’s breezy, three-block pedes­trian shop­ping mecca, Third Street Prom­e­nade, find the usual mall sus­pects, An­thro­polo­gie, Zara and Gap, as well as celebrity-soaked cafés and eater­ies.

Artsy shop­pers should head to nearby Venice Beach’s hip art gal­leries, book­stores and vin­tage shops. For bar­gains, drive north to Ca­mar­illo’s gi­ant 160-store Ca­mar­illo Premium Out­lets.

In Or­ange County, quin­tes­sen­tial So­cal shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences await in huge ope­nair malls, com­plete with valet park­ing. In­spired by Spain’s Al­ham­bra, the Irvine Spec­trum Cen­ter holds 130 stores, restau­rants and a 21-screen cin­ema, an­chored by Nord­strom and Tar­get.

Fash­ion Is­land, with its ca­sual re­sort set­ting fea­tur­ing splash­ing foun­tains and a koi pond, over­looks the Pa­cific. Lead­ing with Neiman Mar­cus and Bloom­ing­dale’s, this coastal cen­ter has more than 100 shops and 36 restau­rants.

Be­yond the malls, La­guna Beach’s stylish art gal­leries line streets slop­ing to a pretty beach. And, if head­ing to Palm Springs, stop at the 180-store Desert Hills Premium Out­lets in Cabazon for lux­ury de­signer brands.

South­ward in San Diego, be­gin your shop­ping trip with a de­light­ful morn­ing at wa­ter­side Sea­port Vil­lage. Then, hop on the Coron­ado Is­land ferry and cruise to the Coron­ado Ferry Land­ing Shops for more sunny shop­ping.

In the city cen­ter, the 16½-block Gaslamp Quar­ter fea­tures mall chains as well as hip shops and art gal­leries oc­cu­py­ing re­stored Vic­to­rian build­ings. San Diego’s own Rodeo Drive—prospect Street in La Jolla—has art gal­leries, bou­tiques and sweep­ing Pa­cific views. In coastal Carls­bad, north of San Diego, you’ll find an el­e­gant out­let mall, the Carls­bad Premium Out­lets.

Head­ing north? Check out the Out­lets at Te­jon, found along In­ter­state 5 be­tween Los An­ge­les and Bak­ers­field, just south of the High­way 99 in­ter­change at the base of the Grapevine. The sprawl­ing, 400,000-square-foot mall con­tains the usual, Nike and Polo Ralph Lauren, and some new­com­ers to the out­let scene, H&M and Pot­tery Barn, among the shady walk­ways and Mis­sion Ranch ar­chi­tec­ture.

North­ern Cal­i­for­nia El­e­gance

San Fran­cisco’s mas­sive malls and quirky bou­tiques show­case the city’s Euro­pean style. Join the Prada-clad pa­rade cir­cling down­town Union Square to max out your plat­inum card in the up­scale depart­ment stores. Stroll down nearby Maiden Lane, once lined with Bar­bary Coast broth­els, for more lux­ury.

Nearby, the West­field San Fran­cisco Cen­tre is an ar­chi­tec­tural gem with 155 stores, restau­rants and two food em­po­ri­ums un­der a stun­ning 1908 dome.

Don’t miss San Fran­cisco’s great shop­ping neigh­bor­hoods. On Chi­na­town’s Stock­ton Street you can pick up Asian an­tiques, silk cloth­ing bar­gains or rare tea. Herbal phar­ma­cies prof­fer Chi­nese medic­i­nal reme­dies, gin­seng, deer antlers or herbs cost­ing $100 per pound.

Near Pa­cific Heights, Sacra­mento Street houses fancy con­sign­ment shops, lux­ury goods re­tail­ers and haute cou­ture chil­dren’s bou­tiques. Hip­pie cul­ture thrives in Haight Street shops sell­ing in­cense, used records and vin­tage San Fran­cisco post­cards, which make great gifts.

North Beach and Jack­son Square are fa­mous for the leg­endary City Lights bookstore, Ital­ian cafés and an­tique stores. Ja­pan­town of­fers authen­tic Ja­panese goods, tansu chests, bon­sai and an­tique ki­monos.

Fi­nally, Hayes Val­ley, a hip­ster haven, has trendy stores and nary a chain store in sight.

Two hours south, in Carmel-by-the-sea’s sto­ry­book vil­lage, shops dis­play fine French linen and Euro­pean an­tiques. Big Sur’s rugged coast in­spires the art found in small art gal­leries. On Ocean Av­enue, ex­plore de­signer shops such as Bot­tega Veneta or Kate Spade in Carmel Plaza shop­ping cen­ter amid cafés, art­ful bronze sculp­tures and abun­dant plants and flow­ers.

North, in the wine coun­try, dis­cover ar­ti­sanal food shops, olive oil pro­duc­ers and cheese mak­ers on Sonoma’s main plaza. Napa Val­ley winer­ies of­fer fine vin­tages, and food­ies will love the sea­sonal abun­dance at Pe­taluma’s or­ganic Green String Farm and in lo­cal farm­ers mar­kets. Or ex­plore Saint He­lena’s his­toric main street for culi­nary tools and vin­tage lux­u­ries.

Three out­let malls—in Pe­taluma, Napa and Va­cav­ille—of­fer brand names and mall time.

Far­ther Afield: North Coast, Yosemite & Theme Parks

Cal­i­for­nia’s wild north coast in­spires the hand­crafted fur­ni­ture and hand­i­crafts, pot­tery or jew­elry found in artsy Men­do­cino’s ocean view lanes.

Yosemite Val­ley’s majesty and his­tory in­spire the gifts and me­men­tos found in Yosemite Mu­seum’s Gift Shop, in­clud­ing authen­tic Na­tive Amer­i­can-wo­ven bas­ketry. The Ansel Adams Gallery sells pho­to­graphic re­pro­duc­tions and col­lectible prints.

Shop­ping in theme parks goes be­yond sun­screen or sou­venirs. In San Diego Zoo Sa­fari Park, The Bazaar stocks authen­tic African ar­ti­facts and un­usual jew­elry. In Dis­ney­land’s Down­town Dis­ney District, you’ll find surf gear and Dis­ney col­lectibles. Fi­nally, the world’s largest se­lec­tion of LE­GOS awaits in Carls­bad’s LE­GOLAND Cal­i­for­nia Re­sort.

From sun-splashed malls to so­phis­ti­cated art gal­leries, even the most ex­pe­ri­enced shopa­holic can score the per­fect gift or me­mento dur­ing a deliri­ous Cal­i­for­nia shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence. And it’s all lo­cated on stage sets of ocean views, moun­tain majesty, in­no­va­tive ar­chi­tec­ture and quiet red­wood groves.

SHOPS AND CAFÉS on State Street, Santa Barbara, left; shop­ping at Hunt­ing­ton Surf & Sport, op­po­site top.

PIER 39 is a pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tion and shop­ping area in San Fran­cisco, right; shop­ping on Main Street in Saint He­lena, bot­tom.

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