Me being me, I decided to start with a shopping post.
Usually when out-of-towners think of doing some shopping in Los Angeles, the areas that come to mind are Melrose Avenue and Robertson Boulevard. Even Rodeo Drive still gets a mention if only as a place to window shop and people watch.
Those places are all worth a visit. I am not here to say otherwise. But if you really want to shop, might I suggest you head downtown to the Garment Center and check out Santee Alley. For some who think this might be just a cute name, no it is an actual alley a few blocks from the California Mart. When I used to work at the Mart, I spent many a lunch break wandering that alley. When it comes to the "$20 and a dream" philosophy of shopping, none of the big discount retailers have anything on Santee Alley.
Yup, you guessed it, the dress above is a Santee Alley purchase. Besides clothing, you can find shoes and bags. You can find loads of cheap chotchke toys for your kids (just try and walk down a block without being accosted by a bubble gun).
I do think it is necessary to add a 'Buyer Beware' disclaimer. Nearly everything you see will be inexpensive, on the flip side not everything will be of the best quality. And this shopping locale is the very definition of Final Sale. Just know the rules before you buy.
Besides the budgetary aspects of visiting Santee Alley, I think a visit would definitely broaden your vision of what Los Angeles is and the people who inhabit this city. It ain't all celebrity sightings and overpriced t-shorts.
Oh - and if you go to Santee Alley on the last Friday of the Month, that is sample sale day at the California Mart. Two birds/one stone. You are welcome.
Dress - Santee Alley; Shoes - Camper; Jacket - Gap; Sunglasses - H&M