Originally Posted by Ambulance Chaser
the quintessential L.A. experience?
Half a dozen lines off a hooker's ass in an infinity pool overlooking the ocean in Malibu.
In all seriousness, though, Melrose Ave is probably as close as it gets to a quintessential LA shopping experience. It's funky, unique, full of hard-to-find items, and full of personality. You can do the Beverly Hills thing and visit department stores like Barney's and Neiman, or brand stores like Zegna, Turnbull, and Brooks. But then again, you can do that pretty much anywhere. Melrose and certain parts of Hollywood are uniquely LA.
As for "touristy" destinations in LA, well, any Statue of Libertyesque tourist sites in LA are pretty grungy and somewhat disappointing. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is in a pretty sketchy part of town, replete with homeless people, mental patients in cartoon costumes, and tranny prostitutes roaming the grounds at night. It definitely helps to know someone out in LA, because the quintessential fun LA experience really involves going out and exploring the night life with someone who has a car and knows the latest hot spots.
That's another thing: depending on how long you're in town, you WILL need a car, or at least someone who has access to a car and doesn't mind schlepping you around. There is no public transportation to speak of, cabs are expensive, and the city is about as sprawled out as you can possibly get.