send to printer

California Shopping

5&A Dime
701 Eighth Avenue
San Diego , California
Tel: 619 236 0364

Downtown San Diego's premier streetwear sanctum for gents is 5&A Dime. Sneakerheads flock to this soi-disant haberdashery for Brixton Ltd. fedoras, Lurkville skateboards, and Crooks & Castles threads. Inside, a giant buffalo bust competes with vintage Singer sewing machines, hardbound books, and massive pretzel tins for American Picker–style decor honors, while cubbies stocked with cult-followed kicks and a lifetime's worth of tees lure the more stylish of the Petco Park crowd. Save for a smattering of watches, knapsacks, and shades (including the piping-hot Raen line), the store has quit carrying women's gear—but the cabinet full of Super7 monster toys from SF's Japantown play nice with both fanboys and -girls.—Audrey Davidow

Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to 8 pm, Sundays noon to 7 pm.

Alessandra Linens
Santa Barbara , California
Tel: 805 448 9057

Locals who've grown bored with their Frette are over the moon about Alessandra Polottos, who creates customized fine linens with embroidery copied from almost anything, from a photo to a painted teacup. From a textile family in Milan, Alessandra has an eye for quality fabrics and finishing. Made from Italian linen or Egyptian cotton, the place mats, napkins, tablecloths, and bed linens are hand-embroidered by several women in Tuscany whose stitching skills have been passed down for generations. A custom-designed place mat can take several weeks for the embroidery, while a tablecloth might require as long as two months—prices range from $300 for a single place mat to $1,200 for a queen-size set of linen sheets.

1458 Haight Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 552 5095

An Aladdin's cave of sequins, flowers, polka dots, ruffles, and ribbons, Ambiance is a girly-girl's paradise. With the help of friendly saleswomen, SF fashionistas find all the dresses they ever dreamed of here, from vintage-inspired cocktail outfits to spaghetti-strapped summer frocks. Ambiance also carries tops, skirts, and jeans, as well as pretty accessories. It gets crowded here on weekends.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 7 pm, Sundays 11 am to 7 pm.

Amoeba Music
1855 Haight Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 831 1200

A music junkie's paradise, Amoeba has an encyclopedic selection of new and used CDs, as well as DVDs, music posters, LPs, and 45s. Everyone from pierced club kids to aging Deadheads comes here to offload their used CDs for cash or trade then stay for hours to browse. Unlike Virgin and other media mega-stores, Amoeba has an extremely knowledgeable and helpful staff, many of whom moonlight as musicians or DJs. Plus, there are live in-store performances every week (sometimes local bands, sometimes major phenoms like DJ Shadow).

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10:30 am to 10 pm, Sundays 11 am to 9 pm.

Artefact Design & Salvage
Cornerstone Place
23582 Highway 121
Schellville , California
Tel: 707 933 0660

A warehouse-like space adjacent to Sonoma's Cornerstone Gardens, Artefact is stuffed with dramatic and unusual objects found around the world by owner Dave Allen. The artful and exotic inventory is ever-changing, but expect to find items like 19th- and 20th-century clock faces from European train stations; giant hand-carved stonework from India; twelve-foot-tall parlor doors with rich, weathered patinas; wooden spires from long-gone churches; tattered, sculptural cargo ropes from Holland; and limestone fountains and basalt birdbaths from France. Prices range from pocket change to tens of thousands of dollars.

Open daily 10 am to 5 pm.

3101 Sacramento Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 928 1287

Known for its eclectic collection of unusual finds, Bae specializes in home furnishings ranging from Asian porcelain lamps and crystal candlesticks to high-end bath salts and small tabletop items that easily stuff into a suitcase. It's the perfect place to pick up a whimsical gift—perhaps a picture frame of alabaster or horn, or a salt-and-pepper shaker set of carved shell. Unlike some of the shops further up Sacramento Street in Presidio Heights, Bae stocks great gifts for under $30. And fear not: If you fall in love with a gorgeous lead-crystal floor lamp, they'll be happy to ship it home for you.—Updated by John Vlahides

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm, Sundays noon to 5 pm.

423 First Street West
Sonoma , California
Tel: 707 939 2847

Baksheesh specializes in handcrafted gifts and housewares from the developing world. Committed to fair trade and to supporting disadvantaged artisans, the store culls gorgeous one-of-a-kind items from countries throughout Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East: coiled bamboo platters from Vietnam, Mayan-inspired ceramic vases from Peru, Indian block-printed tablecloths, and musical instruments from Cameroon. One of the most popular items is a trivet made out of recycled newspaper, from the Philippines. With each purchase, you'll be doing good—and you'll want everything in the store. Other stores are located in Healdsburg (106B Matheson St; 707-473-0880) and St. Helena (1327 Main St.; 707-968-9182).

Hotel Photo
Be Beauty
21 West Fir Street
San Diego , California
Tel: 619 795 4585

This sunny pampering parlor set in a charming garden cottage in Downtown Little Italy offers up everything a gal could need for full-body and soul prettifying. A boutique sells flirty dresses and one-of-a-kind finds from local designers, and the salon offers facials, waxing, makeup, and manicures. Once you're all dolled up, rendezvous with your pals in the Jardim, a jasmine-scented garden set up for tea parties and other girly fests.—Audrey Davidow

Open Mondays and Tuesdays and Thursdays through Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm.

Bixby and Ball
214 South Cedros Avenue
Solana Beach , California
Tel: 858 436 7214

A haven for upscale coastal nesters, this breezy Solana Beach boutique is set up to look like your dream cottage. Outside the place is decked with beachy white shingles and blue awnings. Inside the quaint 1920s bungalow is filled with all the essentials of hip seaside living—nix the anchors and life preservers in favor of Matteo linens, John Robshaw textiles, Kai candles, and pretty gifts galore. Owners Betsy Bracken and Melissa Anderson also offer interior-design and event-planning services.—Audrey Davidow

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm, Sundays 11 am to 5 pm.

Blue Bee
923 State Street
Santa Barbara , California
Tel: 805 897 1137

Since launching this independent boutique selling women's contemporary-casual labels, John Doucette and Marty Bebout have been adding spin-off shops on a regular basis. Honeycomb features unique garments and a mix of established and hot new designers that includes Burning Torch, Great China Wall, Mandalay, Marc Jacobs handbags, and jewelry from Loree Rodkin and Erickson Beamon. Honeycomb connects with Blue Bee Shoes, the ultimate shoe lover's haven (1100 State Street; 805-965-1956). Blue Bee Jeans is a high-end atelier for the jeans connoisseur; it's packed with 50 designer-denim labels from Stitch's and Paige Jeans to True Religion, a large collection of Splendid tees, and fabulous jewelry including Me&Ro and M2 (913 State Street; 805-882-2468). Blue Beetle has a mellow vibe (no hard sell) and the best in new and cutting-edge menswear without being trendy. Look for Mossimo's chic label Modern Amusement, Generic Youth t-shirts from Jeff Yokoyama, a full line of Diesel wear, and thermal-lined Ever hoodies (925 State Street; 805-965-1617).

2329 Lillie Avenue
Summerland , California
Tel: 805 565 3831

New York design bigwig Charlotte Moss makes these side-by-side home decor bungalows in the sleepy beach town of Summerland a must-stop whenever she's in town. Nate Berkus browses here, when shopping for Oprah's Montecito digs. And so do Rob Lowe and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. One cottage is dedicated to all things for or inspired by the garden—from vintage containers and Moroccan lanterns to rare orchid specimens, boxwood topiaries, and tabletop succulent gardens. Next door you'll find homemade accessories from all over the world, including Alpaca throws from Peru, artisan-crafted dishware from San Miguel, and the store's own line of organic fabrics in earthy tones and botanical prints. It's pretty expensive, but fun to explore.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 5:30 pm.

1155 Coast Village Road
Santa Barbara , California
Tel: 805 969 2200

Mother and daughter team Anne and Ellie O'Connell pack their two-story town house on Montecito's Coast Village Road with one-of-a-kind finds from their globe-trotting adventures. Downstairs is stocked with wonderfully eclectic pieces from the 18th and 19th century and feels like a hidden boutique off the Left Bank. Upstairs the vibe is more Mediterranean, with Venetian-plastered walls providing the backdrop for new and tough-to-find treasures from around the world—candles from Paris, brass tables from Morocco, and top-of-the-line linens from Italy.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm.

8214 1/2 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood , California
Tel: 323 655 0223

This fabulous vintage couture shop has supplied red-carpet gowns for the likes of Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, and Sheryl Crow. The designers represented here are the best of the best: Yves Saint Laurent, Emilio Pucci, Andre Courreges. Downstairs is Decadestwo (323-655-1960;, where designer ready-to-wear—including Prada, Marni, and John Galliano—runs just over half retail price.

Closed Sundays.

Design District

If you've come to the modernist mecca of Palm Springs for the architecture, don't miss the flourishing design district along Palm Canyon Drive between Tamarisk Road and Tachevah Drive. Quirky home-accessories shop Fitzsu Society recently teamed up with architecture-obsessed real estate firm Deasy/Penner & Partners to brand their first ever lifestyle store Deasy/Penner & Partners + Fitzsu Society: Homes + Accessories, a one-stop shop where atomic-age enthusiasts can buy a dramatic desert home, then outfit it with the right modern gear. Modern Way Gallery is ground zero for design obsessives who drool over vintage low-slung sofas and Pierre Cardin credenzas. Black-and-white movie star glamour is the draw at the newly opened Interior Illusions, a Los Angeles import where huge ceramic horses are sold alongside luscious shag rugs and Hollywood Regency–style furnishings. At House 849 you'll find an eclectic mix of old and new pieces—bronze 19th-century Chinese lions, wing chairs upholstered in zebra print—that look like they stepped straight off the pages of Elle Decor. Across the street, Asylum is home to an inspired hodgepodge of little Lucite Buddhas, mirrored coffee tables, and curvaceous vases. Retro-design seeps into fashion at Trina Turk (think floaty kaftans and graphic cocktail sheaths), a chic clothing boutique housed in a 1960s Albert Frey–designed building. A few miles away, but definitely worth the trip is Estate Sale Co., a massive consignment warehouse where Ol' Blue Eyes himself sold the castoffs from his swanky desert pad.

1253 Coast Village Road
Montecito , California
Tel: 805 565 1253

Sophisticated but also on the edge, this Montecito hot spot thrills the likes of both Teri Hatcher and Britney Spears, with Michael Kors, Chloé, Blumarine, trendy tunics by Margaret Loves Peter, look-at-me jewelry by Kenneth Jay Lane, and shoe collections from Balenciaga and Stella McCartney. Next door, the sister boutique Ready features young international designers.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm, Sundays noon to 5 pm.


El Paseo is the desert's take on Rodeo Drive, a posh stretch of boutiques, galleries and cafés that lies just 12 miles outside of Palm Springs in the second-home sprawl of Palm Desert. If the 300 stores take their toll, you can hop on a tram which transports worn-out shoppers along the mile-long expanse. Between Larkspur Lane and San Pablo Avenue you'll find The Gardens on El Paseo, a two-story outdoor mall anchored by money-magnets Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co. There are also plenty of independent boutiques for the oversized sunglasses set. Shoe hounds in the market for Stuart Weitzman, Cole Haan and Donald J. Pliner designs beeline to Rangoni of Florence, while Troy is a must for those in need of Feraud gowns. Down the street there is a girly clothing boutique cum nail salon called Trio, which stocks the trendy essentials of the casual, California-cool wardrobe—James Perse tees, metallic flip-flops, and very expensive jeans.

Fred Segal
8100 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood , California
Tel: 323 651 3698

This infamous shop—it's as well-known for its celebrity sightings as it is for its exclusive merchandise—is like a collection of different boutiques under one roof. You can shelter-shop, check out the latest handbags and shoes, and buy men's, women's, and children's clothing—and know that you're getting only the coolest and most luxurious brands. It's one of the best best-edited stores in the United States. There's a second Fred Segal shop in Santa Monica (500 Broadway; 310-458-1160).

Giant Robot

What started out as a little zine is now a store that sells anime comics and toys for grown-ups; art and design books from Yoshitomo Nara, Takashi Murakami, and director Wong Kar-Wai; graphic-emblazoned totes; and other odds and ends for in-the-know nerds. When the flagship started spilling over with merchandise a couple of years ago, the owners opened the more minimalist GR2 across the street, providing a gallery space for local and Japanese artists, with a heavy dose of comic book illustrations and Eastern-influenced Pop art. The Giant Robot brand has also exploded into the food world with the nearby restaurant GR/Eats, a quirky pan-ethnic café that serves up seared tuna salad, angus burgers, and paella.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11:30 am to 8 pm, Sundays noon to 6 pm.

Good Vibrations

Founded in 1977 to offer sex information and toys geared toward women, this store is no dimly lit back-alley den. Rather, it's bright, comfortable, and friendly, stocked with condoms, lubricants, books, and videos, as well as state-of-the-art vibrators and other playthings. The knowledgeable personnel will discourse on the finer points of the Rabbit Pearl or the Magic Wand, and on occasion, founder (and sex therapist/educator) Joani Blank displays her "museum"—dating back to 1869—of antique vibrators.

Polk Street location open Sundays through Thursdays 11 am to 8 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11 am to 9 pm. Mission location open Mondays through Wednesdays 11 am to 8 pm, Thursdays 11 am to 9 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11 am to 10 pm, and Sundays 11 am to 9 pm.

135 Post Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 800 766 7628

Founded in 1861 by Solomon Gump to introduce Gold Rush parvenus to the decorative arts, the famous Gump's purveys costly, beautiful, and unusual housewares in addition to a wide selection of inexpensive gifts. As well as bedding, bath accessories, china, and crystal, you'll find jewelry and objets d'art, such as Limoges boxes and Murano glass. Gump's wares show a strong Pacific Rim influence, and an 18th-century Ching dynasty Buddha (not for sale) greets visitors who enter from Post Street.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm, Sundays noon to 5 pm.

353 S. La Brea
West Hollywood , California
Tel: 323 965 9666

Former Women's Wear Daily editor Michelle Dalton Tyree owns this shop, and she's decorated it just like a Parisian atelier (there are even reproduction Louis XVI chairs). She carries, naturally, women's high-end clothing, by designers like Zac Posen, Behnaz Sarafpour, and Oscar de la Renta. There's also an array of pastel-colored cashmere sweaters from Lutz & Patmos, and hats by Stephen Jones (he made the bridal piece worn by Dita Von Teese when she married Marilyn Manson).

Closed Mondays except by appointment.

It's a Wrap! Production Wardrobe Sales
1164 S. Robertson Boulevard
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 310 246 9727

Clothes worn on television and film shoots are available here. One day this place will have nothing of any earthly interest; the next, there will be a designer suit (perhaps worn once on Guiding Light or As the World Turns) at a fraction of the retail price. It helps to be a small size, since these clothes were fitted for flab-free actors.

James Perse
8914 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood , California
Tel: 310 276 7277

The son of Maxfield owner Tommy Perse, James is famous for his high-style, supersoft t-shirts for men, women, and kids. The minimalist-chic shop also carries leggings, slouchy track pants, and sexy jersey dresses and skirts. There's a second store in Malibu (3835 Cross Creek Rd.; 310-456-0354).

Jimtown Store
6706 Highway 128
Healdsburg , California
Tel: 707 433 1212

The most sophisticated country store you're ever likely to stumble upon, this green and yellow shop carries everything from gourmet sandwiches to sock monkeys. The rustic shed out back brims with antiques and folk art collected by the owner's parents. On warm days, order a bowl of chocolate pudding and head to the glossy, cherry-red picnic tables on the back patio, where dense Sonoma County grapevines overhead provide cool shade. The shop also carries its own house-made condiments, such as fig-and-olive spread, which make wonderful gifts for foodie friends. Note that the shop is ten minutes outside Healdsburg; though the store is reason enough to hop in the car, plan to tack on a visit to the surrounding Alexander Valley, one of area's most scenic wine-producing regions.

Open Mondays through Fridays 7 am to 5 pm.

K. Frank
1023 State Street
Santa Barbara , California
Tel: 805 560 7424

Fashion-label obsessives of all ages love this State Street style emporium that caters to men, women, and even babies. Oh, yeah, and there are home accessories, too. The sheer amount of merchandise—from high-ticket bamboo linens to pint-size grand pianos for the mini-Mozarts—can be a little dizzying, but the shopping options are endless. Women's lines include sophisticated separates from the likes of Jenni Kayne, Brunello Cucinelli, Rebecca Taylor, and Joie, while duds for dudes include Masons, Vilebrequin, Agave, and seersucker pants from Hartford. No doubt some of the price tags can be intimidating, but there's a semiaffordable selection of gear from Tse Say (Tse Cashmere's moderately priced sister line) as well as second-skin knit T-shirts from Majestic.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 10 am to 6 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 10 am to 7 pm, and Sundays 11 am to 6 pm.

1131 Coast Village Road
Montecito , California
Tel: 805 695 0625

Style mavens love Lily, a jewel box of a shop with an eclectic mix of reasonably priced luxury goods, dreamy-soft bed linens, furniture, chandeliers, and exclusive jewelry from local artisan Susan Cummings and Mademoiselle Camille, a designer who collects antique lace in France, from which she creates cuffs, necklaces, collars, and brooches embellished with gems and rhinestones.

Lou's Records
434 North Coast Highway 101
Encinitas , California
Tel: 760 753 1382

Lou's Records—a staunch champion of the unusual and unexpected listening experience—is San Diego's favorite (and hippest) spot to buy vinyl. The owners of the 30-year-old shop take great care to keep the titles on the floor rich with obscure, avant-garde, and international releases. They also host in-store musical performances and record release parties. But don't let that scare you off: Lou's is intimate and friendly, and questions about records are actively encouraged.—Audrey Davidow

Open Mondays through Thursdays 10 am to 7 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 10 am to 9 pm, and Sundays 11 am to 7 pm.

M.A.C. (Modern Appealing Clothing)
387 Grove Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 863 3011

Rich hipsters with a hankering for avant-garde Belgian and Japanese designers shop with the big dogs at M.A.C., the longtime Hayes Valley mainstay for pricey-but-worth-it works of fashion art. Owned by stylish brother/sister duo Ben and Chris Ospital, the store is like a brick-walled curio cabinet for the family's collection of eclectic artworks and unexpected garments—if you've ever dreamed of a corset that looks exactly like a miniature men's three-piece suit, then this is the boutique for you. With a well-edited selection that includes A.F. Vandevorst, Tsumori Chisato, and Martin Margiela, there's no shortage of totally wearable and expertly tailored looks for clients with the means. The men's collection is really the highlight here, with a large offering of Dries Van Noten alongside Lanvin, Engineered Garments, and local label Turk + Taylor. Though there's often a killer sale rack for women, the men's clothing rarely goes on sale.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm, Sundays 12 pm to 6 pm.

Hotel Photo
Make Good
2207 Fern Street
San Diego , California
Tel: 619 563 4600

Make Good is a funky collective of local artisans, designers, and crafters hell-bent on giving throw-away items a second lease on life as up-cycled clothing, jewelry, and gifts. Cucapá beer-carton wallets from Bombyx, cashmere purses by Sophia Carolina, and hand-crafted letterpress cards are artfully displayed among vintage knickknacks and resale clothing you'd actually want to wear. We especially dig the rings made from buttons and Bottlehood's glasses crafted from sliced-off bottle bottoms. Many of the designers stop by the store and work on-site, turning the boutique's open floor space into a makeshift studio.—Audrey Davidow

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays noon to 8 pm, Fridays through Saturdays noon to 9 pm, and Sundays 10 am to 5 pm.

8460 Melrose Place
West Hollywood , California
Tel: 323 782 1100

The fresh, simple, and stylish womenswear here has all been designed by Consuelo Castiglioni—the talented offspring of a family of Italian fur manufacturers. He tends to use a neutral palette of black, white, gray, and earth tones, punched up by bursts of bright scarlet red or lemon yellow. The shapes he chooses—swingy A-line coats and jackets, high-waisted mod- and kimono-style dresses—can be worn by women of all ages.

1350 Main Street
St. Helena , California
Tel: 707 967 8787

Local interior designer Erin Martin sells unique furniture, art books, sculpture, lighting, and objets d'art in her soaring, stone-walled space, the most dramatic shop in downtown St. Helena. Styles range from an organic, sculptural aesthetic to high-tech, industrial modern design. You'll find furniture carved from driftwood, 1950s European automotive lights, and cast-bronze sculptures by Simon Toparovsky. Martin is also interested in indigenous cultures, so the ever-changing inventory might include mangrove lamps from Brazil, bamboo stools from Guatemala, or pressed-tin doors and petrified-wood tables from Morocco.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm, Sundays noon to 4 pm.

Miette Confiserie
449 Octavia Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 626 6221

At Miette Confiserie, the sunny French-style sweet shop in Hayes Valley, the world is your candy oyster—or gummy rat, chocolate carrot, or sweet tart skull. While there's none of Wonka's lickable wallpaper, the flowery pastel-hued space with cheerful shop girls and gumdrop topiaries is a sugarcoated backdrop for overflowing jars and tables laden with imported herbaceous chocolates, artisan lollipops, and Parisian macarons. The in-house kitchen dolls out homemade caramels, marshmallows, toffee, and likewise serves as a sweets laboratory for local culinary talent. Wash down a fresh-spun pouf of organic cotton candy with an elderflower spritzer. For artisan cakes and assorted pastries, check out their sister shop, Miette Pâtisserie, in the Ferry Building.

Open daily 11 am to 7 pm.

Mimi & Red
3032 University Avenue
San Diego , California
Tel: 619 298 7933

With two locations, one in La Jolla and the other in North Park, Mimi & Red has quickly emerged as the go-to fashion spot for femme-favorites at reasonable prices. This laid-back boutique lures both surfers and socialites looking for the latest fashion staples—from breezy summer maxi dresses by Rebecca Beeson to cool autumn ponchos from BB Dakota—as well as other essentials, including lotions, potions, and jewelry from Mimi & Lu.—Audrey Davidow

Open Mondays 11 am to 6 pm, Tuesdays through Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm, and Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm.

Hotel Photo
2210 Kettner Boulevard
San Diego , California
Tel: 619 239 4788

A haven for serious design with splashes of whimsy, this Little Italy warehouse is the go-to store for cool art, one-of-a-kind jewelry, and funky modern decor. Big-statement lighting ranges from clusters of glass orbs to seven-foot life-size horse lamps. It's also the place to find stylish furniture that could double as art, such as the ultramod sofas and chairs from Artifort.—Audrey Davidow

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm, Sundays noon to 5 pm.

Myra Hoefer Design
309 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg , California
Tel: 707 433 2166

Interior designer Myra Hoefer scours Paris flea markets, antique shops, and artists' studios, then showcases her best finds in this tiny showroom off Healdsburg's central plaza. The well-edited inventory changes often, but on any given visit you may discover hand-painted monogrammed silk pillows in multicolored hues, plaster of Paris chandeliers, Louis XIV reproduction furniture, or mounted butterflies.

Open daily 10 am to 6 pm.

Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufacturing Co.
835 Charter Oak Avenue
St. Helena , California
Tel: 707 963 4173

Skip the overpriced gourmet food shops along Highway 29 in favor of this run-down old market, a purveyor of locally produced olive oils and some of the world's best imported balsamic vinegars, Italian salamis, and cheeses. A throwback to the days before import shops became fashionable and overpriced, this dusty little hole-in-the wall is the real deal—rumor has it that the shop inspired the now-famous Oakville Grocery chain. Assemble a picnic lunch of cured meats, olives, bread, and cheese, then snag one of the rickety picnic tables outside in the shade of wisteria vines.

Open daily 8 am to 5:30 pm.

Noodle Stories
8323 W. Third Street
West Hollywood , California
Tel: 323 651 1782

This small, austere-looking boutique (on an excellent shopping block) has a great collection of innovative clothing for both sexes. Some of the designers featured are Yohji Yamamoto, Martin Margiela, and Commes des Garçons. There are also shoes and bags.


Even the handmade Venetian masks on the walls won't distract your attention from these exquisite shoes. Made in Italy and designed by owner Paolo Iantorno, the collection includes superb women's boots, each pair with its own personality, as well as heels, flats, sandals, and handsome men's boots and loafers. Shoes tend to range between $150 and $400—a bargain for footwear that is at once so comfortable and stylish.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm, Sundays 11 am to 6 pm.

Hotel Photo
Paxton Gate
824 Valencia Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 824 1872

Macabre oddities and unusual garden items inspired by the natural sciences fill this gallerylike space at Paxton Gate. The front of the shop has weathered-oak shelves displaying the skulls of rodents and small animals, cases of brilliantly colored butterflies pinned under glass, and giant vintage trophy heads of bison and deer (fear not: none of them are endangered or poached). The squeamish can distract themselves with unusual jewelry and small-batch soaps made with heady botanicals, before heading to the rear of the shop, which explores plant life. Here you can discover orchids and succulents, an array of unusual plant books and garden tools, and an open-air backyard that showcases Paxton Gate's custom outdoor architecture.—John A. Vlahides

Open daily 11 am to 7 pm.

3827 30th Street
San Diego , California
Tel: 619 501 6318

Graduates of Urban Outfitter's cheap homewares flock to Pigment to acquire the grown-up versions of hipster decor. Dozens of terrarium orbs float from the ceiling of this North Park gem that sells one-of-a-kind pieces—from art and books, to fishbowls and compostable tableware—inspired by nature. This place is known for its amazing terrarium selection, and there are also kits and workshops for terrarium building.—Audrey Davidow

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm, Sundays 11 am to 5 pm.

Planet Blue
Planet Blue

Located in Malibu's quaint Country Mart, Planet Blue is considered a must stop for well-to-do beach bunnies and just about all of young Hollywood. From yacht-friendly flip-flops and casual designer threads (Ella Moss, Diane von Furstenberg, and Velvet) to the latest denim brands, this place is a trusted purveyor of laidback luxury. Don't miss the beauty emporium next door, where shelves are stocked with every high-end line imaginable—from Mario Badescu skincare to Cor's famous silver soaps—plus a few cool boutique brands you can't find anywhere else. For those who don't feel like trekking all the way out to the flagship in Malibu, there are now Blue outposts in Santa Monica, Venice, and Beverly Hills.

Hotel Photo
2225 30th Street
San Diego , California
Tel: 619 280 5501

If you're looking for gifts with a conscience—from eco-coasters made from fallen branches to scarves knitted from recycled cashmere sweaters—drop by this artsy South Park neighborhood outpost for green design fiends. The store also does a brisk trade in earth-friendly furniture.—Audrey Davidow

Open Mondays through Thursdays 10 am to 7 pm, Fridays through Saturdays 10 am to 8 pm, and Sundays noon to 5 pm.

R.A.G. (Residents Apparel Gallery)
541 Octavia Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 621 7718

In a town as quirky as San Francisco, you have to work pretty hard to stand out… but R.A.G. can help you get there. The garments here (for both men and women, locally designed and arranged in a gallerylike space) are either one-of-a-kind or made in small batches, so you'll be able to find pieces that no one else has. The clothes are distinctive without being too wacky; their originality lies in funky details like frilled seams, an asymmetric cut, or a whimsical tennis-player pattern on a dress.

Open Mondays and Wednesdays through Fridays noon to 7 pm, Saturdays 11 am to 6 pm, and Sundays noon to 6 pm.

Rainbow Grocery
1745 Folsom Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 863 0620

With endless varieties of miso, tofu, and seaweed, baked goods that accommodate every allergy known to medical science, and luminous fruits and vegetables, Rainbow is the most extensive emporium of organic vegetarian food you'll ever hope to find. It also carries great natural beauty products and an encyclopedic range of vitamins, medicinal herbs, and detoxifying teas. Stock up on supplements, buy a vegan gift, or simply assemble a delicious and virtuous picnic.

Open daily 9 am to 9 pm.

Rose Bowl Flea Market
1001 Rose Bowl Drive
Pasadena , California
Tel: 323 560 7469

On the second Sunday of each month, this market, with more than 2,000 exhibitors, draws antique- and collectible-hunters from all over the state—there's everything here from Art Deco furniture to Partridge Family lunchboxes. The market opens officially to the public at 9 am, but dealers pay extra to go as early as 6 am, and so can you.

1138 1/2 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 310 452 1154

This superminimalist boutique, named for the essential element, has a carefully chosen selection of women's clothing from cutting-edge European designers. There are drapey cottons by Hache, tailored separates from Sofie d'Hoore, and elaborately designed skirts and blouses from Ainos.

8117 W. Third Street
West Hollywood , California
Tel: 323 655 2142

This shop began life as a shoe store, and it still stocks high-end women's footwear (including a line by the owners, Jeannie Lee and Sophia Banks). But the collection of funky rooms is now crammed with racks of women's clothing and accessories, too—and they've become a favorite hunting ground for celebs like Kirsten Dunst. The merch changes all the time, but might include sailor dresses by Catherine Holstein, lace and jersey cocktail dresses by Vanessa Bruno, and Earnest Sewn cigarette jeans.

7920 W. Third Street
West Hollywood , California
Tel: 323 658 8684

There's a small collection of menswear at this sleek modern store, but the primary focus is on women's clothing (both new and carefully chosen vintage) and an accompanying selection of shoes, jewelry, and handbags. Co-owners Greg Armas and Joey Grana are almost always on site, and are known for providing head-to-toe styling for celebs; they've dressed Mischa Barton and the Olsen twins for special events. For us regular humans, they also carry jeans from Acne and casual wear from Jeremy Scott, Society for Rational Dress, and Grana's own private label, Scout Collection.

Shopping Recommendations
San Diego , California

San Diego's version of Rodeo Drive, La Jolla is a high-end shopper's paradise. Small fashion boutiques selling ridiculously expensive white pantsuits, fine art galleries lined with oil paintings and modern sculpture, and diamond-filled jewelry shops can be found on a handful of blocks surrounding the always-tony Prospect Street. Hillcrest is a hip, urban (and predominantly gay and lesbian) neighborhood just northeast of downtown San Diego. It's home to an eclectic mix of shops that hawk everything from used clothing to books to hardware to sex toys. The Hillcrest Farmer's Market is held every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Lincoln Street. Set alongside the Old Town State Historic Park, Bazaar del Mundo is a vibrant—albeit touristy—collection of shops full of jewelry, fashion, gifts, and arts and crafts, mainly from Mexico and Central and South America ( Most of the shopping in Ocean Beach is based around Newport Avenue, with its quirky collection of shops including beachwear shops, antique stores, surf shops, and even a pair of true head shops. Every Wednesday there's a regular Street Fair/Farmer's Market on Newport.

Solo on Cedros
309 South Cedros Avenue
Solana Beach , California
Tel: 858 794 9016

Spend an afternoon alongside the haughty Hollywood designers scouting the aisles of housewares, books, jewelry, and other treasures at Solo. Housed in a 4,000-square-foot restored warehouse in the Cedros Design District, the collective of upscale home and accessory merchants offers everything from hand-painted French linen tablecloths and bistro tables to arty coffee-table books, soap, and letterpress stationary. Don't miss Jennifer Price's vintage stall, where funky vintage furnishings get a new lease. We especially dig her film reel coffee tables and typewriter jewelry.—Audrey Davidow

Open Mondays through Saturdays10 am to 6 pm, Sundays 11 am to 5 pm.

Spice Islands Marketplace
2555 Main Street
St. Helena , California
Tel: 888 424 2433

Whether you're in the market for a pair of chef's pants, a jar of exotic sea salt, or an obscure kitchen gadget, this Napa Valley shop—the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone's campus store—is sure to have it. This is where CIA students (and many local chefs) shop, and it's stocked with the wine country's best selection of quality knives, cookware, and glassware. The store also has more than 1,700 cookbook titles in stock, an array of packaged ingredients, and hard-to-find spices from around the world.

Open daily 10 am to 6 pm.

Strange Invisible Perfumes
1138 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Venice , California
Tel: 310 314 1555

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer's stepdaughter Alexandra Balahoutis creates fancy, all-natural scents at this craftsman bungalow-turned-perfume-boutique in Venice. There are 17 fragrances, with romantic names like Prima Ballerina and Fair Verona, but you can also sign up for private consultations and have her blend a pricey custom fragrance.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm.

Sue Fisher King
3067 Sacramento Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 888 811 7276

If you like to cover your bed with luxurious throw cushions and grace your dinner parties with elaborate table settings, then this place is for you. The selection of opulent home accessories includes Venetian glass mirrors, Anichini pillows, and gorgeous hand-blocked silk bed-coverings. The furniture selection, including pieces from Paris and the Far East, is elegant but not stuffy. There's also a wide selection of flatware and European dishes (you can order a set with your family crest or monogram) and Italian bath linens.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm.

Trina Turk
8008 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 323 651 1382

Local design darling Trina Turk has transformed this 3,000-square-foot space into a swirly girly showroom for her modern take on vintage clothing. Unlike many of the body-skimming, deconstructed looks filling L.A.'s trendy boutiques these days, Turk's pieces (swingy peacoats, graphic print tops, and Jackie O.–inspired cocktail dresses) are actually designed to accommodate a few curves. And you'll love the attentive sales staff.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm, Sundays noon to 6 pm.

112.5 S. La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 323 937 6077

Undefeated is the definitive place where sneaker freakers camp out for hard-to-find kicks. From their own label collaborations with designers like Vans, Adidas, and Nike, to a $2,000 pair of gator-skin Air Force 1's, the store offers something for everyone, though the selection for guys is still much broader than for the girls. Some say the service comes with more attitude than they'd like, but it's a small price to pay for a rare pair of vintage Air Jordan's.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm, Sundays noon to 6 pm.

1672 Haight Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 626 5939

If you want to look cool without seeming like you're trying too hard, Villains is the place to go. The look is understated but youthful and urban. The great selection of designer T-shirts includes the quirky Gama-Go brand, a local favorite. The cute staff members really know their denim and will help you pick the perfect pair of jeans from their vast selection, which includes 7 for All Mankind and Citizens for Humanity. Sneaker fetishists will have a hard time resisting Villains Shoes next door.

Open daily 11 am to 7 pm.

Wendy Foster State Street
833 State Street
Santa Barbara , California
Tel: 805 966 2276

A longtime favorite with locals, this light and airy store with old wood floors and high ceilings has wide fashion appeal, mixing understated luxury and a slightly boho vibe, from Tracy Reese and Rebecca Taylor to Calypso and Ya-Ya, plus the standard Juicy Couture. For those with a slightly younger bent, there's Wendy Foster's Angel in Montecito, a laid-back boutique with consciously messy displays (1221 Coast Village Road; 805-565-1599).

Open daily 10 am to 6 pm.

Wilkes Bashford
375 Sutter Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 986 4380

A San Francisco original since 1966, Wilkes Bashford is the city's priciest and most exclusive department store, catering to local elite hungry for upscale sportswear, couture, and premium men's suits—labels include Brioni, Kiton, Monique Lhuillier, and Azzedine Alaia. But with Neiman Marcus, Saks, and Barneys all in the neighborhood, it's Wilkes' personal service that keeps customers coming back. The sales team and tailor will make house calls, and the staff is experienced in closet clean-outs and wardrobe editing. Gift wrapping is always gorgeous (and free), and if you get hungry while perusing the season's looks in the private salon, just order a little "room service" from the acclaimed Campton Place. Too tired to carry your packages home? Wilkes will have them delivered.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm.

Woodhouse Chocolate
1367 Main Street
St. Helena , California
Tel: 800 966 3468

Go ahead—just try to resist the seductive window display at this high-end chocolate boutique, where white-gloved salespeople lovingly tuck artisanal delicacies (made in the European tradition, without preservatives) into china-blue boxes reminiscent of Tiffany & Co. The offerings extend far beyond your typical truffle; here, chocolate is transformed into intricately patterned stilettos, squirrels, poison-dart frogs, and other precious shapes, filled with exotic ingredients such as Thai ginger, passion fruit, and honey. But confections like this don't come cheap: One pound will set you back nearly $80. Be sure not to leave your purchases in a hot car.

Open daily 10:30 am to 5:30 pm.

XOX Truffles
754 Columbus Avenue
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 421 4814

His truffles may look rough-hewn, but their creator, Jean-Marc Gorce, is a master craftsman, named one of the top ten chocolate makers in the United States by Chocolatier magazine. His tiny shop sells 27 flavors. Try the peanut butter with dark chocolate—a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup that has died and gone to heaven. Or sample "Casimira's Favourite," named after Gorce's wife: smooth white chocolate ganache perfumed with Madagascar vanilla.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 9 am to 6 pm, Sundays 10:30 am to 6 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.