Dodger Ball | Photo courtesy of flickrformike, Flickr
Los Angeles is entertaining, diverse, beautiful, exciting and enchanting, but not always cheap, which is why folks can find themselves a little tapped out as they approach the end of their journey here. For those who still have to bring something home, though, there are options that will let you show your appreciation and give them a little piece of LA, while leaving you with enough money for cab fare to the airport. Here’s where to find 15 souvenirs under $15:
Los Angeles Philharmonic Store
You may not have the music chops, or even the sweet hair, but you can still approximate the stylings and enthusiasm of LA Philharmonic superstar conduct Gustavo Dudamel by getting a conductor’s baton. It’s one of the many items ranging from toys to mouse pads to musical instruments you can get for your little musical geniuses at the Los Angeles Philharmonic story, located in the shimmering Frank Gehry-designed. Walt Disney Concert Hall. 131 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, 213.972.3440, www.laphilstore.com.
Souvenirs of Hollywood
You’ve gotten the speech down to under 45 seconds, you’ve practiced in front of the mirror without stuttering, and you’ve narrowed down your list of “thank yous” to family, agents and gurus. All that you’re missing is the statuette itself. No fear, though, because just across the street from the Dolby Theatre (aka the home of the Oscars), Souvenirs of Hollywood sells an eight-inch gold statuette, with inscriptions ranging from “Best Friend” to “Best Backseat Driver” (who may be one and the same). The little gold men start at $7.99. Souvenirs of Hollywood, 6800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 323.962.8510, or www.HollywoodMegastore.com.
Your tyke may be too young to know about Smokey and the Bandit or even BJ and the Bear, but that doesn’t mean he or she isn’t nuts about toy cars or trucks, and if you have a Dodger fan on your hands, you can kill two birds with one stone by breaking out the Los Angeles Dodgers Puzzle. Of course, there are enough other souvenirs strewn across the stands of Dodger Stadium’s concourses to keep you busy enough to miss a 10-run inning (hopefully by the Dodgers), with collectable baseballs, baseball cars, oversized blue foam fingers and other fun stuff. But the little puzzle is the only one that is $15. 1000 Elysian Park Ave., Los Angeles, www.shop.mlb.com.
A visit to LA would be incomplete without getting something from Venice Beach, where chainsaw jugglers and tattooed, rollerskating grandmas dominate the Boardwalk. But if the pink-bearded, nose-ringed dudes behind the table freak you out, you can play it a little safer. The Rose Café has become an institution in the laid-back beach community because of its no-fuss atmosphere, reliable comfort food and art-filled walls. As a bonus, it has a gift shop full of eclectic inventory, including T-shirts that keep it local. 220 Rose Ave., Venice, 310.399.0711, www.rosecafe.com.
Samuel French Bookshop
Nothing says “prospective screenwriter” like a mug that says, well, “screenwriter,” and that’s what folks can find at the Samuel French’s online and on-the-street bookshops. Theatrical plays, screenplays, books, anthologies, biographies, cast recordings and guides to the writer’s and actor’s craft – not to mention the mugs – fill floor-to-ceiling shelves at the two local outlets. Samuel French is also a publisher that stocks such classics as Our Town and The Odd Couple, or the dialogue and lyrics to musicals such as Chicago and Grease. 7623 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, 866.598.8449, www.samuelfrench.com.
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
Ah, the Grunion Run. The local tradition of going down to the beach on summer nights and watching hundreds, if not thousands, of little fish wash ashore and lay their eggs in the sand. And leave it to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium’s gift shop to pay homage to this little bit of oceanic reproduction by selling pewter grunion pins. They're just part of the wide range of items that include stuff like toys, books, glassware and jewelry that are featured at the gift shop at the Aquarium, which holds the world’s largest collection of Southern California marine life. 3720 Stephen M. White Dr., San Pedro, 310.548.7562, www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org.
Goorin Hat Shop
Melrose Ave., Westside
OK, so a short-brim cap won’t exactly make you unique in Silver Lake. But in most other parts of town, or most other cities for that matter, a cap from Goorin, which has been making lids since the 19th century, spells cool, and the hatmaker has a store for your on Melrose Avenue, that epicenter of that studded-beaded-shredded style. The street’s motto could be “Where Real Rock Stars Shop” because generations of rock gods have found their skull belt buckles, brocade coats with epaulettes and leopard-print leggings. The Goorin Hat Shop also sells bowlers, straw fedoras or eyelet lace floppy hats. It can get pricey, but check out the sale shelf where prices are up to 75 percent off and may get down to that magic $15 number. 7627 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323.951.0393, www.goorin.com.
Yan’s Gifts & Co.
Chinatown, Downtown LA
Just a few blocks from downtown Los Angeles, a thriving collection of restaurants, gift shops and tea emporiums make up Chinatown. Though many of the region’s ethnic Chinese have moved to nearby suburbs, Chinatown allows visitors to be immersed in tradition. Stroll down Broadway and you’re likely to find shopkeepers dispensing herbal medicines, selling exotic varieties of tea and offering cheongsam dresses, jewelry and paper lanterns. Our favorite gift shop sells paper and fabric parasols for about $7. 711 N. Broadway, Los Angeles, 213.680.3078.
Murillo Leather Goods, Olvera Street
Downtown LA is chock full of ethnic districts, but the first and arguably the best known is Olvera Street, which pays homage to Los Angeles’ Mexican roots with dozens of stores and restaurants. Hundreds of goods are sold throughout the street’s stalls and stores. Murillo Leather Goods offers leather bracelets with names on them, starting at $10. W-6 Olvera St., Los Angeles, 213.309.2255.
Griffith Observatory’s Stellar Emporium Gift Shop
If getting a gyroscope at the Griffith Observatory’s Stellar Emporium Gift Shops sounds like an excuse to get a close look at one of LA’s most beautiful works of architecture, as well as one of LA’s best views, well, it is. The Observatory, which provided a classic backdrop to such films as Rebel Without a Cause and Blade Runner, includes a full floor of planetary displays, plus a recurring show inside its planetarium, not to mention a stunning view of the LA basin that can keep onlookers up there for the better part of the day. That said, the Cosmic Enegery Kinetic Sculptures are cool little examples of scientific fun, and the Observatory’s gift shop sells them for $9.99. 2800 E. Observatory Rd., Los Angeles, 323.660.7827, www.griffithobs.org.
It’s A Wrap
When wardrobe departments from TV shows and movies need to dispense of the clothes their actors have worn, Burbank’s resale clothing shop It’s a Wrap gets the call. The large, two-story store in the heart of the San Fernando Valley’s studio district is a favorite haunt of bargain shoppers. There’s perhaps no better way to buy the shirt off an actor’s back—and the matching accessories. In-store signs help shoppers decode the origins of many items, too. 3315 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, 818.567.7366 (also a store at 1164 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, 310.246.9727), www.itsawraphollywood.com.
Beverly Hills Hotel
If you’re not one of the many children who come to the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel for family vacations, then you can still take home the same pink rubber duckie that’s given to pint-sized hotel guests. The bathtub toy includes the hotel’s famous hunter-green logo, which has made it a popular gift and collectible. It’s available in the hotel gift shop or in the novelties section on the hotel’s website. Beverly Hills Hotel, 9641 Sunset Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310.276.2251, www.thebeverlyhillshotel.com.
Lots of folks come to the LA area to look for the stars, but Santa Monica’s Shiva Imports provides a completely different take on the concept, not to mention an opportunity to get a gift that’s cheap and pretty unique. The store, which is located on the Third Street Promenade, sells Chinese Astrology Pendants. Somebody bold in mind? A Tiger or Dragon pendant would do the trick. Someone a little more restrained? A Dog or Sheep pendant fits the bill. Shiva, which has an online catalogue, also sells books, fragrances, tarot decks and apparel. 1335 Third St., Santa Monica, 310.394.1191, www.shopatshiva.com.
Aquarium of the Pacific
Regular ice cubes may do if you’re visiting the heartland, but here by the Pacific, there’s a more seafaring variation on that theme. Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific features more than 12,500 animals within about 50 exhibits, not to mention a chance to visit vibrant downtown Long Beach. And for a take-home that’ll run you only $9, the Aquarium sells a delightfully fun shark fin ice tray. 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, 562.590.3100, www.shop.aquariumofpacific.org.
Pasadena Museum of History
It’s New Years Day, the Tournament of Roses Parade is about to start under sunny skies, and your snowed in for the day. Well, you can still turn on the tube to check out the floats, mix yourself a Hot Toddy and drink it out of your very own Rose Parade Bistro Mug that you got at the Pasadena Museum of History. The mug shows that you have class, you have style…and that you should be here. 470 W. Walnut St., Pasadena, 626.577.1660, www.pasadenahistory.org.