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Americana at Brand
Photograph: Courtesy Americana at Brand

A shopping mall guide to Los Angeles

The shopping mall is a thing of beauty in LA: shiny, clean, often outdoors and offering much more than just shopping

By Kate Wertheimer

Here in Los Angeles, we take our shopping mall culture seriously. A place to shop? Of course. But the mall is also a place to see and be seen, a place to eat delicious food, to drink green juice, to watch great movies, to do yoga on the lawn (yes, yoga; yes, lawn). Our shopping malls boast top-notch stores, obscene square footage and some truly impressive architecture and landscaping; not to mention unique attractions such as the Original Farmers Market. They're one-stop shops for a day of entertainment, which is really what a shopping mall should always be. Here, a list of our 10 favorites across the city.

Shopping mall options in LA

Americana at Brand
Photograph: Courtesy Americana at Brand

1. The Americana


If you're looking for a great shopping experience on the East side, check out the Americana. Glendale isn't particularly known as being a shopping destination, but people come from all across LA County to shop at Brand Avenue's outdoor mall—it's beautifully designed, sparkling clean and boasts bars, eateries, a movie theater, green lawn space and year-round events including free yoga, visits with Santa and the Easter Bunny and more. There's also a Kids Club for little ones from 11am to 1pm on Tuesdays, with free entertainment and activities for kids, rain or shine. You can take a ride on the Americana's complimentary electric-powered Trolley (complete with cherry wood and stained glass windows) for a spin around the property. There's even an animated fountain on the lawn, with water and light shows scheduled regularly to classic tunes from Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and more.

Photograph: Courtesy the Grove

2. The Grove

Shopping Shopping centers Fairfax District

In a town where most malls are housed inside bland, air-conditioned structures, this upscale open-air center has been a hit—and some say, is the crown jewel of mall shopping in LA. There are only around 50 retailers, but the selection is strong (an Apple Store, Barneys New York Co-Op, Crate & Barrel, Dylan's Candy Bar) and there's also an attached movie theater. And fears that it would kill the adjacent Farmers Market have, happily, proven groundless.

Photograph: Courtesy Santa Monica Place

3. Santa Monica Place

Shopping Shopping centers Downtown Santa Monica

Set on the more commercial side of Santa Monica, at the Promenade's southern end, is the revamped Santa Monica Place shopping center. Just two blocks from the beach and the Santa Monica Pier, the mall attracts many tourists looking for a quintessential LA shopping experience. Major retail outlets like Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom sit alongside the very LA eatery True Food Kitchen.

Photograph: Courtesy South Coast Plaza

4. South Coast Plaza

Shopping Shopping centers Costa Mesa

This monster is the third largest mall in the US, and it's not shy when it comes to talking about its size. There are nearly 300 stores here in all, and chains dominate, of course, but whatever you want, the mall probably stocks it somewhere, whether in one of the five department stores (from Sears to Saks Fifth Avenue), the vast array of fashion retailers, or in one of innumerable specialist stores that sell everything from jewelery to sneakers. The shops here are known for throwing special events, sales and contests, so check the website before you go to see what's happening.

Photograph: Courtesy Glendale Galleria

5. Glendale Galleria

Shopping Shopping centers Glendale

Nestled in downtown Glendale, the longstanding Glendale Galleria is an old-fashioned indoor operation that counts its size as its greatest asset (the fourth largest mall in LA). Think three floors of retail spanning department stores like Macy's, JC Penny, and Bloomindales, as well as familiar name brands like Lush, Banana Republic, Foot Locker, Apple and Gamestop. It's a one-stop shop for all your retail cravings with nearly 200 spots at your disposal and a bevy of casual dining destinations (your run-of-the-mill food court).

Koreatown Plaza.
Photograph: Michael Juliano

6. Koreatown Plaza

Things to do Koreatown

Koreatown Plaza comes closest to a centralized, bourgeois shopping district, albeit trapped inside of a distinctively ‘80s mall. The selection skews toward global kids and adult brands (Jacadi, United Colors of Benetton), but window shoppers will enjoy more unique collections of home goods (ABC Plaza), toys (Fancy House) and pop culture (Music Plaza). Eateries, from the food court counters to petite restaurants, reflect the overall experience: an American mall with Korean flair.

Paseo Colorado
Photograph: Courtesy Paseo Colorado

7. Paseo Colorado

Shopping Shopping centers Pasadena

Before the resurgence of Old Pasadena, this outdoor shopping mall had a brief run as the Pasadena's most popular shopping destination. Though some of its major retail spaces sit empty and its style is starting to feel dated (i.e. it's clearly not the Grove), it's still a great place to catch a movie at the Arclight or check out temporary artwork during the Pasadena Chalk Festival.

8. Hollywood & Highland

Things to do Hollywood

It's difficult to say whether Hollywood & Highland has helped drive Hollywood's recent commercial renaissance, or whether it's ridden to success on its coattails. Either way, this ambitious mall has become a popular destination after a shaky start. The mall's stores are a jumble of familiar favorites (Gap, American Eagle, LA's only Virgin Megastore) and smaller chains (Bebe, Hot Topic, Swatch); it's designed to appeal to a younger crowd. The mall's layout isn't exactly user-friendly, but you'll find what you're looking for in due course. It's also a great opportunity for a peek at the Chinese Theater and some storied stars on the Walk of Fame.

Photograph: Courtesy Beverly Center

9. Beverly Center

Shopping Shopping centers Beverly

It won't win any architectural awards, but this hulking mall is a well-rounded destination. It's anchored by two department stores, Bloomingdale's and Macy's, and a list of fashion retailers that includes Diesel, Calvin Klein, UNIQLO, Dolce e Gabbana and Burberry. Other shops include Aveda, Sephora and a huge Bed, Bath & Beyond; there's also a decent food court.

Photograph: Courtesy Westfield Century City

10. Westfield Century City

Shopping Shopping centers Century City

After multiple renovations, this immense mall has slowly moved slightly upmarket, adding some upscale shops to its roster of main-street perennials. The likes of Gap and Sunglass Hut now rub shoulders with Brooks Brothers, Kate Spade, Thomas Pink and even Swarovski; however, the mall's two department stores remain Bloomingdale's and Macy's. There's also a 15-screen movie theater. Yet another renovation, to be completed in 2017, will add a 149,000-foot Nordstrom, more than 1,000 new parking spaces and the first West Coast location of Italian marketplace concept Eataly.


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