When trying to find the right gift or memento to celebrate a trip to Los Angeles, tourists can always count on Hollywood or Venice Beach to pump out the stereotypical shirts and baubles. Yet if the discerning shopper looks deeper, they will find a number of stores offering handmade goods crafted by Angelenos, or eclectic oddities that are hard to find anywhere else. Here are seven Los Angeles shops to satisfy souvenir hunters.
Los Angeles County Store
The Los Angeles County Store is the best place to score a unique item made locally in Los Angeles, as that’s the point of origin for every single item sold. Browse art, prints, cards, books, clothes, and even treats such as L.A.-made chocolates and jams. Or ask about a custom-made or pre-selected gift box to take a variety of goodies home.
For the macabre, Skeletons in the Closet is a great place to pick up a strange souvenir. Located within the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, this grim shop focuses on death-related gifts, including mugs, pins, shirts and bags emblazoned with the coroner’s seal. Guests can also buy model skeletons and skulls, books, or a welcome mat with a chalk outline of a body on it.
Located within the Central Library, this newly remodeled gift shop stocks L.A.- and California-centric gifts and novelties. Autographed books, jewelry, pins, notebooks, clothes, toys and other items are for sale here—with much of it quite affordable. Purchases, in turn, support the L.A. Public Library.
If you want the total tourist experience, then it’s off to La La Land (not to be confused with the musical rom-com of the same name). It’s right on Hollywood Boulevard near the Chinese Theater, and you can’t miss it. This massive souvenir shop has bright, color-changing lights and loud music to draw in the tourists. Shelves are brimming with all the plastic Oscar statuettes (and variations thereof) and household wares stamped with an image of the Hollywood Sign a person could desire, as well as hundreds of other cliché—but fun—tchotchkes.
The LACMA Store at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art offers a collection of beautiful art, jewelry, and household items, as well as books and apparel. A tote or tee printed with cool art from Warhol and Picasso could make a good gift, while those with deep pockets may wish to see what limited edition pieces are available.
Bearded Lady Vintage & Oddities | Courtesy of Bearded Lady
This Burbank curiosity shop is full of odd and eerie trinkets, jewelry, books, and other gifts. Expect things like horror-themed jewelry, notebooks printed with the carpet pattern from the hotel in The Shining, and Ouija boards. As a bonus, there’s a small gallery in the back called the Mystic Museum with rotating art exhibits (Halloween, Twin Peaks, and The X-Files have been themes) and spooky events.
WACKO carries an extensive collection of postcards, books, toys, housewares, and eclectic gifts. Novelty items include quirky kitchen items, bobble head toys, and gag gifts. You can also buy soap and bath products, which is how WACKO got its start. WACKO owner Billy Shire’s mother Barbara started the family business as Soap Plant, where she and her husband Hank sold her handmade soaps. In addition to the store itself, the La Luz de Jesus Gallery in the back displays a diverse selection of lowbrow art, with openings occurring on the first Friday of every month.