You wouldn’t think a shopping district would be ranked the 13th most popular tourist attraction in Los Angeles, but it is. It’s also one of the most expensive shopping districts in the world.
Truth is, Rodeo Drive has always been expensive. By 1907, plots of land that were only 75 x 160 feet were selling for $1100 each. By 1925 the lots were selling for as much as $30,000. That’s some serious cash back in that era!
While there were always bookstores, shops, beauty salons and such on that stretch of Rodeo Drive, it wasn’t until the sixties that it began to morph into the exclusive shopping district that it is today. In 1967, Giorgio Beverly Hills opened, the first high end boutique on the street. Gucci followed the next year and more high end stores continued setting up shop on Rodeo Drive after.
Credit for the worldwide fame of Rodeo Drive has often been given to the 1991 movie, Pretty Woman starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. They dined on the sidewalk bar of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and looked out onto Rodeo Drive where Julia later had a notable shopping spree. In recognition of their role in the film, the Beverly Wilshire offers a number of Pretty Woman experiences including ordering a Pretty Woman cocktail to drink on the same sidewalk bar.
However the publicity campaign launched in 1977 by the Rodeo Drive Committee probably had more to do with it’s fame. The goal of the campaign was to make everyone think of Rodeo Drive as the shopping destination for the rich and famous and to spread the image of a culturally elite lifestyle.
If you’re celebrity hunting, chances are you’ll see some celebrities on Rodeo Drive. You do have to be a person of means to shop there often. But the tourists far outnumber the celebrities! And if you’re after some enviable Instagram posts, well, Rodeo Drive is the place to be.
The main attraction on Rodeo Drive is window shopping and browsing inside the shops. Be sure to check out the “Rodeo Collection,” a 45 store, 70,000 square foot shopping mall at 421 Rodeo Drive. It’s just off of Santa Monica Blvd on the north end. Also make it a point to walk along Via Rodeo, a European-styled cobblestone lined street that peels off of Rodeo Drive on the south end and curves into Wilshire Blvd.
Also keep your eyes peeled for the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style. This section of Rodeo Drive is marked by a silver statue that is the torso of a nude woman. Traveling north from there on either side of Rodeo Drive you’ll see plaques honoring the legends in the world of fashion in the sidewalks.
For the most part, the shops are used to tourists dressed in any attire and happy to have you come in and browse. There is a small handful of exclusive couturiers where you need an appointment to get in.
There are several parking garages on Rodeo Drive and on the streets running on either side of it. Some are free. Street parking on Rodeo will be next to impossible to find, but a block or two east you can start finding metered parking spaces.
Rodeo Drive is a two mile long street, but the portion of it that is famous runs from Santa Monica Blvd on the North to Willshire Blvd on the South, a three block stretch. The surrounding streets have more of the same type of exclusive stores, they just lack the famous name.
See photos of Rodeo Drive at Night and get more info on the stores in our earlier post on the shopping center for the rich and famous. Be sure to check out our Los Angeles Travel Guides to get the most out of your LA vacation.
More photos after the break…
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