If Rodeo Drive has a rival anywhere in Southern California, it is South Coast Plaza. This giant mall is located 40 miles away from Hollywood and Vine, but it would be unconscionable to talk about opulent shopping malls and not mention this Orange County mega-center - the number one retail center in the United States.
Often mentioned on "The O.C.", South Coast Plaza may well be the ultimate California shopping mall experience. At almost 3 million square feet of enclosed space, and covering some 128 acres in all, it is one of the largest shopping centers in the world. It's also the most profitable mall in the country (with nearly $1 billion in sales), and it attracts more shoppers than any other mall in America - over 20 million a year. Some tour groups from Japan plan their entire vacation trips around a visit to South Coast Plaza.
South Coast Plaza is Orange County's version of Century City, Rodeo Drive and the Beverly Center all rolled into one, a delightful mix of indoor and outdoor settings, featuring over 300 shops and nine anchor department stores, including Bloomingdale's. Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's.
It is not simply a shopping mall. Rather, South Coast Plaza is a vast shopping, dining, & entertainment complex, featuring two separate enclosed malls, and several distinctive outdoor areas. It sprawls over a vast property which includes luxury hotels, dozens of restaurants, banks, fountains, art gardens and theatres. It's virtually a small city in its own right.
The western wing, the "Jewel Court" (between Nordstrom & Saks Fifth Avenue) is a virtual indoor Rodeo Drive, containing such exclusive stores as Gucci, Valentino, Versace, Georgio Armani, Saks Fifth Avenue, Christian Dior, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Tiffany, Hugo Boss, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Harry Winston, Bvlgari, Burberry, Fendi, Yves Saint Laurent, Van Cleef & Arpels, Jimmy Choo, Montblanc, Bottega Veneta, Donna Karan New York, Sergio Rossi, Celine and Cartier. There's even a Wolfgang Puck Cafe.
The mall's owner likes to point out that South Coast Plaza's Tiffany now does more business than the Beverly Hills Tiffany. And today, 40 percent of South Coast Plaza's business is from customers who live outside of Orange County. That's rather impressive when you consider that the mall is located deep inside The O.C., meaning that shoppers from L.A. have to be willing to make a fairly long trip to reach this shoppping mecca. (Paris Hilton dropped by the mall's Macy's store in 2008 to push her new shoe line.)
In the northeast corner of Town Center you'll discover the Orange County Performing Arts Center, a giant regional theatre offering a wide range of cultural events: ballet, opera, symphony, & Broadway musicals like "Phantom." It is Orange County's version of the Shubert or the Ahmanson.
Nearby is the luxurious Westin South Coast Plaza Hotel, where guests have included Liza Minelli, Demi Moore, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Placido Domingo, Bruce Willis, Mikhail Baryschnikov, Sly Stallone, Julio Iglesias, the Duchess of York, and Vice President Al Gore. (Most of the celebs stay on the hotel's 16th floor.)
If you get the chance, do not miss seeing this mall at Christmas time. It is spectacular - from the lavishly decorated Carousel Court to the astounding Fantasy Tree at Crystal Court, there's nothing quite like Christmas at South Coast Plaza.
Next to Disneyland, South Coast Plaza may well be Orange County's most popular tourist attraction.
they recently renamed the Crystal Court; it's now called "South Coast
Getting there: South Coast Plaza is located in Orange County, close to the junction of three different freeways: the San Diego Freeway (405), the Corona Del Mar Freeway (73), and the Costa Mesa Freeway (55). It is about six miles south (and two miles east) of Disneyland. / To reach South Coast Plaza from west Los Angeles, take the San Diego (405) Freeway to the Bristol Street exit (three exits south of Harbor Blvd). Turn north on Bristol, and you are at the heart of South Coast Plaza center. The main mall lies to your left (west) and the Village to your right.
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