Los Angeles offers shopping at its finest: great shopping districts, easy parking, lots of sales, and stores from the ridiculous to the sublime. California fashion has a unique style, tailored to the pleasant climate, outdoor living, movie glamour, and laid-back attitude.
For fresh, hip attire that won't frighten the bank, head to Los Feliz Village, bounded by Vermont and Hillhurst Avenues north of Hollywood Boulevard. Half Off Clothing Store (1806 N. Vermont; 323-665-1526) sells brand-new, casual men's and women's clothes for ... guess how much. Titles at Skylight Books (1818 N. Vermont; 323-660-1175) include gay-themed publications, and there's a regular schedule of readings by local and nationally renowned authors. Finally, the Rose Bowl Flea Market (1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena) is the Mother of All of L.A. Flea Markets, 5 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month. The de rigueur outfit: sunscreen, shades and a big floppy hat.
4. Anchorage, Alaska
Alaska is another state with no sales tax and offers some unique shopping opportunities, including musk ox knitwear and other Native Alaskan wares. Many downtown shops in Anchorage carry Native Alaskan arts and crafts.
Don't miss the 4th Avenue Market Place (411 W. 4th Avenue; 907-278-3263) if you have any interest in Native art. The Alaska Native Arts Foundation Gallery (6th Avenue and E Street) is a nonprofit promoting the best work of indigenous artists, both in traditional and contemporary forms. Nowhere else will you find another business like Oomingmak Musk Ox Producers' Co-operative (6th Avenue and H Street; 907-272-9225), located in the house with the musk ox on the side. Owned by 250 Alaska Native women living in villages across the state, the co-op sells only scarves and other items they knit of qiviut (ki-vee-ute), the light, warm, silky underhair of the musk ox, which is collected from shedding animals.
5. St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.
Tiny, tony, tempting St. Thomas is another duty-free delight. Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, is a town of shops and historic buildings reflecting its Danish colonial past. Look for the 17th-century red and yellow Fort Christian, the 19th-century lime-green Legislature Building, and Emancipation Park, a tropical version of a New England town square commemorating the 1848 proclamation freeing the slaves.
The central cluster of shops along Main Street is bracketed by two open-air markets: Vendor's Plaza catering to souvenir hunters on the east, and Market Square serving mostly locals on the west. In-between in well-maintained, pastel-colored, 200-year-old warehouses with the most spectacular 18th-century doors, lies a duty-free shopper's paradise: Gold, jewels, electronics, perfumes, china, crystal, and linen are all tax free up to $1,200 to U.S. citizens.
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