If you spent any amount of time in a Sanrio Surprises store growing up – you had a lot of cute little characters from which to choose to adorn your coin purses, pencil boxes, notebooks, memo pads, pencil sharpeners and more. From Pochacco, Keroppi and Badtz-Maru, to the queen Hello Kitty herself, it wasn’t back-to-school season until your backpack was packed with Sanrio stationery and supplies.
While you can still purchase supercute items from the Hello Kitty clan, the brand has evolved to offer much more than retail since it debuted 45 years ago. Since the first Hello Kitty Cafe opened in Rancho Cucamonga in 2017, Southern California has been graced with a Sanrio resurgence that’s treating Hello Kitty fans to a variety of one-of-a-kind experiences. Now celebrating her 45th anniversary, we’ve got your guide to must-see Hello Kitty experiences in LA.
So, grab your bestie and say “hello” to the following supercute ways to live your best Hello Kitty life in Southern California.
Hello Kitty Friends Around the World Tour (Sept. 20 - Oct. 20, 2019)
Hello Kitty is leaving on a jet plane and she doesn’t know when she’s coming back again. Just kidding! She’s coming back to LA for her Friends Around the World Tour and bringing some of her besties with her. Hello Kitty’s tour lands for one month only from September 20 through October 20 at the new LA Plaza Village in Chinatown (555 N Spring St, Los Angeles 90012). Fans can immerse themselves in five different destinations across the 10,000 square-foot pop-up, including Hello Kitty’s London house, a Parisian bakery, and some of Hello Kitty’s favorite travel spots, including New York, Honolulu, and Tokyo. You’ll visit "baggage claim" at the end of your trip for limited-edition souvenirs and special merchandise.
How to travel: Ticket prices range from $27 to $50 depending on when you visit. Children under 3 are free. To book your flight, visit www.hellokitty45.com.
Sanrio Store - Japanese Village Plaza
Your destination for all things “small gift, big smile,” the Sanrio Store in Little Tokyo (115 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Los Angeles 90012) celebrated its grand re-opening in August 2019. Shop here for all your Sanrio needs from favorites like Hello Kitty, My Melody, Chococat, Keroppi, and newer additions to the HK fam like Gudetama and Aggretsuko. You never know who you’re going to run into at the Sanrio Store, as both Gudetama and Aggretsuko have been known to make special in-person appearances. Make sure you’re following @sanriojapanesevillage so you don’t miss out on special promotions like free Aggretsuko toilet paper to the first 50 guests (yes, that actually happened).
Open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Hello Kitty Store - Universal Studios Hollywood
While there’s reportedly a Hello Kitty film in the works, the character already has a home among Hollywood legends with a Hello Kitty Store at Universal Studios Hollywood. Located in the 6,000 square-foot Animation Studio Store, this "shop-in-shop" offers exclusive Sanrio surprises featuring Hello Kitty & Friends starring in classic Universal films including Back to the Future, Jaws, Psycho, and E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. There's also specialty merchandise featuring Hello Kitty and her clan, including Chococat and Keroppi, getting wild on the park’s rides including the famous Studio Tour. Don’t leave without customizing your own set of Hello Kitty ears. We always knew Hello Kitty was primed to be a star.
The Hello Kitty Store is open during park hours. For more information, visit www.universalstudioshollywood.com.
Hello Kitty Hollywood - Hollywood & Highland
For the ultimate Sanrio shopping experience, fans can't miss the company’s second flagship store in the heart of Hollywood. Located at Hollywood & Highland, the Hello Kitty Hollywood Store (6801 Hollywood Blvd. Ste. 277, Los Angeles 90028) carries vintage items, the latest merchandise with your favorite characters, food, and photo opportunities for the 'gram. Much like the Little Tokyo location, at the Hollywood store, Hello Kitty pays homage to her Japanese heritage. You can find Hello Kitty posing with a cherry blossom or sakura, as well as limited-edition products imported for the Kawaii Mart installation, including Japanese candy, beverages, and beauty products.
The Hello Kitty Hollywood Store is located on the second floor of Hollywood & Highland. Open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Energy Bistro & Karaoke
Calling all karaoke stars, your cover of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” just got even more supercute as you can now sing your heart out in one of three Hello Kitty-themed rooms at Energy Bistro & Karaoke in Alhambra (33 E Valley Blvd, 206-210). You can jam to your favorite songs in five other specially themed Sanrio rooms. When singing stirs up an appetite, choose from a variety of Sanrio-inspired sweet and savory food items, including Hello Kitty shrimp tempura bao set or the Gudetama temaki sushi hand roll set with three different kinds of eggs — tamago, masago, and quail. There's also an Energy Bistro & Karaoke in Hacienda Heights (2020 S Hacienda Blvd, Unit K).
Alhambra hours are Monday through Thursday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday from 2:30 p.m. to 3 a.m., and Sundays from 2:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Book your Hello Kitty karaoke experience at www.energykaraokeus.com.
It’s safe to say everyone would learn proper dental hygiene techniques if we were taught by Hello Kitty and her supercute Sanrio friends. Well, at Parklane Dental (9636 Las Tunas Dr, Temple City 91780), you can learn how to brush with My Melody, floss with Little Twin Stars, and rinse with Keroppi. That’s right, Hello Kitty and her friends are moonlighting as dentists and hygienists at the first-ever Hello Kitty-themed dental office in the U.S.
Hello Kitty and friends are now taking appointments at Parklane Dental on Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Call (626) 247-4788 to make an appointment and book your Hello Kitty or Gudetama-themed treatment room.
Hello Kitty Grand Café
Your Southern California Sanrio experience isn’t complete without a road trip to the pretty pink Hello Kitty Grand Cafe at Irvine Spectrum Center (860 Irvine Center Dr, Irvine 92618). Here you’ll find all the supercute and super delicious treats you can eat, like freshly baked cookies, cakes, donuts, and handmade hot and iced drinks. Try Hello Kitty-themed macarons, a selection of beautifully made cakes, and mini cakes inspired by other Sanrio characters. If you’re so inspired, you won’t be alone if you visit the café in your best Hello Kitty-inspired attire.
Pro tip: In The Bow Room, you can experience a traditional Afternoon Tea service during daylight hours. Cocktails are served after 5 p.m. for 21+ guests. Wine is available all day. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve tried the Hello Kitty sparkling rosé! Reservations are required for Afternoon Tea or Cocktail services in The Bow Room. Book your reservation at the Sanrio website.
Also located in Irvine, Tanaka Farms (5380 3/4 University Dr.) launched a collaboration with Sanrio in 2017 that features Hello Kitty and her Sanrio friends as ambassadors to the farm, teaching visitors of all ages about healthy eating, sustainability, responsible farming, and agriculture. Year-long photo opportunities and seasonal activities have included Hello Kitty, Keroppi, Chococat, My Melody, and Pochacco. You can also add to your Sanrio collection by snagging limited edition Sanrio+Tanaka Farms merchandise. This unique partnership will be coming to an end soon, don't miss out!
The Pumpkin Patch Season begins on Saturday, September 21. For a full schedule of tours and events, visit the Tanaka Farms Calendar.