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Santa Monica

LA Restaurants, Posts, Visiting LA

Shopping in LA

Did you say Shopping in LA? Let’s face it, if you’re in LA you’re going to want to shop.  The shopping here is pretty amazing and you can pretty much spend your whole time shopping if you’re that way inclined.

Strip shopping is great along Melrose Avenue (West Hollywood), Third Street (WeHo), Robertson (Beverly Hills) and of course there’s always Rodeo Drive.  Westfield has come to America and revolutionised Mall shopping and with most of the malls outdoor you don’t have to sacrifice sun time–and don’t worry it “never rains in LA”.

So here it is a run-down of your shopping options.  Whether you want to get it done quickly or randomly browse and enjoy all LA shopping has to offer, this post is for you.

LA: The Grove & the Farmer’s Market

Seen as a must-visit shopping destination in LA the Grove certainly gets busy.  It’s easy to get to by Uber, taxi or car.  If you drive be sure to check out for validations around the various stores.  And if you want to get into the LA thing there’s Valet parking at The Grove.  Do watch it though as validation is different for the Grove and the Farmer’s Market so watch where you park depending on what you’re after.  (I usually park at the Farmer’s Market–if I’m lucky enough–especially if I’m going to pick up some fresh produce for dinner.  I also found out that Nordstrom validates for The Grove parking so that’s a bonus).

Farmer's Market

LA’s idea of sightseeing: a shopping mall

Not only is it pretty but there are great places to eat and (of course) shop.  There’s a massive H&M and you have to let curiosity get the better of you by visiting American Girl.  For a complete shop/store listing click here.

Century City

After a multi-million dollar facelift and expansion Century City is making itself a must-do destination while shopping in LA.  A Westfield Mall, it follows the recipe of destination shopping in Australia like Chatswood and Sydney City.

So convenient to Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and the westside there are great restaurants, good shops and very popular (you never know who you might spot).

Speaking of restaurants it has Shake Shack and our ultimate favourite from our Shanghai days, Din Tai Fung [shriek].

It has Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s AND Nordstrom’s, a HUGE Apple Store, Tesla (in case you want to buy a car) and high-end brands.  It also has the usuals like Victoria’s Secret and Zara.  More exciting for us Aussies is the Cotton On sighting as well as Typo.  For a complete store listing click here.

And if that’s not enough Century City is very dog friendly.

Doggie Treats

Doggie treats | Century City

Santa Monica

If you’re staying in Santa Monica you really don’t want to drive up to LA to shop.  And you don’t need to because there’s great shopping right where you are.

Check out Third Street Promenade–the famous pedestrian-only shopping strip with great brands and a great vibe.  (I have to say I never shop down here because when you’re in Beverly Hills you don’t need to but it’s great shopping none-the-less).

Montana Avenue has upmarket boutiques and coffee shops but still offers a laid-back beach feel.  If you’re in Santa Monica it’s well worth meandering along–you never know who you might spot.

And, for something a little more hip check out Main Street.

Like all people in Santa Monica, you’ll never have to leave :-).

Camarillo Premium Outlets

At 45 minutes from Beverly Hills it’s a bit of a drive to Camarillo but I can tell you you won’t be disappointed.  As far as outlet malls go this one is a beauty with some great brands and a decent place to shop.  There’s everything from Kate Spade, Converse and Cotton On to BCBG Max Azria and Armani and Tori Burch.

Click here for a link to the store guide and map and have fun!

Outlets: Citadel

Citadel outlets are just south of Downtown on the I5 and really convenient if you’re staying in Orange County (Disneyland or the beaches–there’s an Express Shuttle from select Anaheim Hotels) or LA.

The first time we went here we had a field day (and so does everyone else we bring).  First stop for the Aussies Converse, Vans and Nike then you can branch out to H&M, American Eagle, Guess, Michael Kors, Banana Republic and Billabong.  There are heaps of other shops too.  If you’re out for bargains and have a big shopping list be prepared to take up most of your day.

It’s not bad people watching too just quietly–you get a better cross-section of LA than you do in Beverly Hills or West Hollywood.

Topanga Mall

LA doesn’t do mega malls like we have at home in Australia but Topanga is the exception to the rule.  It’s not handy if you’re staying at the Beach but if you’re staying in Beverly Hills it’s pretty easy to get to.  This mall is it has it all: Forever 21, Brandy Melville (not in very many Malls), Nordstrom, Macy’s, Neimen-Marcus, Henri Bendall, Bath & Body Works, Wet Seal–the list goes on.  It’s a one-stop shop.  Beware though you’ll need the day–there’s a lot to get through if you’re a thorough shopper, you might need to take advantage of its late-night trading.

Beverly Centre

I haven’t been a big fan of the Beverly Centre but I’m getting used to it.  Like all the other malls it has good brands to choose from including New York’s Henri Bendel.   It’s convenient and close to Melrose, Third Avenue and Beverly Connection across the road has Target and Nordstrom Rack if you don’t have time to hit the outlets but are looking for a bargain or two.

Melrose Avenue

I just love Melrose Avenue.  The best thing about it is keeps changing.  It starts from being designer boutique paradise to vintage shopping paradise to grungier hipster shopping.  There’s a lot to look at, great street art and great photo opps.  Here’s a great site that details what’s on offer on Melrose.  And while you’re there don’t forget to cover off Melrose Place.  You might like to lunch at the Fig & Olive it’s great food & wine (and great olives and olive oil).

Check out my photo gallery on Facebook.


Robertson is another great street for people watching and high-end boutique shopping.  Celebs and those in the know prefer to shop here than Rodeo Drive because it’s slightly less conspicuous.  Having said that it’s where The Ivy is and there are tour buses that travel along this strip hoping to spot a celeb (I wonder if they ever do?!  One time my son & I were coming out of The Ivy a tour bus came past and we waved to them, probably not the celebs they expected to see!)

Third Street

Another great strip with groovy boutiques and great places to eat including the uber-popular star-spotting eatery Joan’s On Third.


Petticoat anyone?


Beverly Hills

You might notice I didn’t mention Rodeo Drive.  It’s more of a sightseeing destination than a shopping destination–unless of course you have come with your Black Amex and are ready to do some damage.  By all means head on down there and check it out.  But if you’re that way try Beverly, just one street over.  It has great shops and a little more kind to your credit card.

Universal Studios City Walk

If you’re really short on time there are actually a few good stops at Universal Studios City Walk.  Of note are Abercrombie & Fitch and a huge Billabong shop.  And there are a number of different restaurants to choose from if you’re exhausted from your long day there.

Getting around LA

It’s pretty hard to get around LA in anything other than a car.  If you’re going to brave driving in LA drive fast and be decisive.  Other than that here’s a post on driving in LA.

Have you heard of Uber?  We love it and use it here all the time.  Here’s a link to sign up (with a promo code for up to $30 off your first ride).  Give it a go, you won’t regret it.

Happy Shopping!

xx It Started in LA xx

My LA story, Posts

Beverly Hills Beach Club

School’s out for summer and Brandon gets himself a summer job at the Beverly Hills Beach Club.  Remember that?  A great opportunity to have the girls (and boys) in bathers.  And oh the plot lines that summer has to bring.  Ratings gold.  Of course I’m not talking about real life but my “past life” of 90210 Aaron Spelling style.

There’s a reason so many songs are about summer–carefree joy, fun in the sun and good old-fashioned fun.  Good old-fashioned fun.  Add LA style and it’s even better.

When I first said I was moving to LA we all wondered where we might live.  To think we’re living in Beverly Hills 90210 is a spinout but that’s nothing new to you now either as we’re acclimating together.

Even today when I’m giving out my address or talking about where I live I’ll get a comment, “Oh my God.  The most famous postcode in the world.”  And it is.  Thanks of course to Aaron Spelling.

The thought has crossed mine and many of my friend’s that Brenda and Brandon (aka my son & daughter) have moved into a new school in the middle of this surreal world and we’re constantly drawing parallels to our lives (but sadly no sign of Dylan).

So, when my daughter was going to a party at a Beach Club in Santa Monica that we “have to get membership to” I thought of Brenda begging Jim to do the same.

I was trying to arrange end-of-year drinks with a friend and it was all getting complicated.  90210 might be the most famous postcode in the world but it’s just the same as everywhere else in the world–you’re busy ferrying kids from one invitation and party to the next.  We were marrying up our commitments and realised we were both going to the same place in Santa Monica.

The Beach Club.  Technically the Jonathan Club.

“OMG,” I said to her (who knows me well enough by now that I don’t feel weird saying this), I’m totally picturing Kelly, Brenda & Donna at the Beach Club for summer where Brandon got his summer job.  Is it anything like it?”

Of course my friend hadn’t really thought anything of it until I mentioned it.  To her it’s just normal.  In fact (as she pondered life from where I sit) yes it is.  She actually wondered if that Club might be the setting for the “Beverly Hills Beach Club”.  Alas no it’s not.

(Here’s the backstory on the Beverly Hills Beach Club–and other 90210 locations–if you’re interested).

I was beside myself.  First issue what to wear.  Second issue what to bring.  Third issue regaining my composure & finding more people to tell.  That’s what Facebook is for.

To me it was anything BUT normal: valet parking (of course), Guys in polo shirts getting your beach chairs, beach volleyball, the buffet set up for dinner by the beach, beach chairs set up by the water, shower facilities with warm, fluffy towels.  A bar.


Valet parking a given


Don’t get me wrong, being at the beach at our Beach House on Magic Beach is pretty special but this is lovely.  So LA.  So 90210.  If there was one fault I’d find with it it’s that Brandon is not there taking my cocktail (or wine) order.

At 7:00 the sun is still out and everyone’s at the buffet.  Time to get some food.  My friend was squeezing me and clenching pulling that face–you know the one Cameron was pulling to Ferris in the taxi when his dad is in the Cab next door to him?  That one.  I knew someone was there I just didn’t know who.  I’d heard Sarah Michelle Gellar was there so I started looking for her.  Nope.  Man right next to me was a hotty.

“Oh, is he someone?”  Yep, Liev Shrieber.  With our very own Naomi Watts.  Just getting food at the buffet.  Alongside yours truly.  Like everyone else.  At the “Beverly Hills Beach Club”.  Obviously I had to do some talking so he hears the accent.  A “warm exchange” related to heating up the hamburger buns and I was in a happy place.  Naomi & I could’ve bonded over the serviettes and cutlery but she wasn’t as interested.  I’ll take Liev any day anyway.

So my end of the school year (remember the kids first in the US=big) and the start of my summer turned out to be pretty 90210.  Love an impromptu gathering.

The other thing that could’ve made our night was a Kings win to take home the Stanley Cup.  They were playing in New York however so to take home the Stanley Cup at home is the next best thing.

Need a refresher on the Beverly Hills Beach Club? Here’s a clip featuring Kelly & Brandon.  If you think about it Beverly Hills is no where near the beach so clearly there’s no such place as the Beverly Hills Beach Club.  Just like there’s no West Beverly High.  Hashtag bubble burster.

Kelly & Brandon moments at the BH Beach Club

Eight grade breakfast

Yes summer is here and my eldest son finished Middle School and to commemorate they had a little breakfast at school before they jumped on buses to Magic Mountain.  (The transition from Middle School to High School is a big deal here–like the transition from Elementary to Middle School).

I’d forgotten my son’s year was the “famous” year.  Everywhere I looked there was an actor, rock star, agent, TV Show Creator etc.  You know you’ve acclimated when you forget you’re going to bump into some of the most famous people in the world (for the older generation at least) but I did get a little kick when it was everywhere I looked–which ever direction I looked I remembered their kids were in the same year as mine.  Cool.

Like I said, nice way to end our first school year in the US.  In the land of 90210 no less.  Best part of all is that we can reflect on how we’re finishing the year strong.  Friendships struck and forged, comfort levels normal (we no longer feel like a fish out of water and talking to said famous people–even if I still couldn’t speak to the most famous of them all) and we live to tell the tale.

Enjoy your summer (sorry to my Aussie mates where it’s winter).

xx It Started in LA xx


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