Melrose is one of the most famous streets in Los Angeles, known for its luxury shopping and celebrity spotting — and hordes of tourists trying to do both.
But don’t let that keep you away.
There’s a reason why many flock to this stretch of town: It’s an achingly cool place to meet with a friend and wander away a sunny afternoon.
So grab your sunglasses. Here’s a way to take in the best that Melrose has to offer, including some high-end retail therapy, hidden gems and just enough L.A. architectural history to impress the friends at your next cocktail party. Plus, cupcakes + cats for your Instagram feed!
Start near Melrose Place and La Cienega Boulevard. (If you’re driving, pay close attention to parking signs.) As you make your way east on Melrose Place, window shop at some of Los Angeles’ premier fashion shops, including Oscar de la Renta, Chloé, Marni, Irene Neuwirth and Isabel Marant. Be sure to stop by Santa Maria Novella (8411 Melrose Place), a hidden gem and an outpost of one of the world’s oldest pharmacies, located in Florence, Italy, and founded by nuns. Inside, find handmade candles, perfumes, soaps, lotions and potions bottled and packaged to look like something out of a historical museum. Take a peek at the new(ish) kids on the block Glossier (8407 Melrose Place) for everything trending in beauty and Mansur Gavriel (8475 Melrose Place) for plush leather purses and more.
2:15 p.m. Post retail therapy, don’t forget about fan favorites Alfred Tea Room — just off Melrose Place at 705 N. Alfred St. for an Instagram-worthy break — and Croft Alley for a clandestine snack. (The rustic cafe is tucked in a back alley at 8428 Melrose Place and feels like one of L.A.’s best kept secrets.)
History buffs, get ready to explore one of the world’s first Modern houses: Turn north on North King’s Road and head to the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at 835 N. Kings Road. The center oversees programs that feature rotating art installations and site-specific exhibits inside the Schindler House next door. This landmark was designed by Viennese architect Rudolph Michael Schindler and completed in 1922.
Many consider the house to be the birthplace of Southern California Modernism, with its revolutionary design and celebration of indoor-outdoor living.
Roam these spaces on a self-guided tour, being sure to check out the plush sunken ivy beds and the upstairs, outdoor “sleeping baskets,” which offer a beautiful view overlooking the property. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for students and seniors.
On your way out the door, head south back to Melrose Avenue.
Duff Goldman, whom you may recognize from the Food Network’s “Ace of Cakes,” believes that the world needs more cake, and with that philosophy, L.A.’s first do-it-yourself cupcake and cake decorating studio was born. Duff’s Cakemix at 8302 Melrose Ave. helps people tap into their inner artist while catering to a sweet tooth. Choose from a six-cupcake kit for $28 or a 6-inch, three-layer cake for $36. (There is a $12 studio fee per person, which includes everything you need to decorate, plus staff guidance as needed.)
After all that sugar, you need some coffee. And cats. You’re certain to find both at Crumbs & Whiskers. The cat cafe at 7924 Melrose Ave. allows you to play with and pet up to 30 cats. Walk-in is $9, a reserved experience is $25. (Note: No children under the age of 7 permitted.) Owner Kanchan Singh came up with the idea for her business when she visited a cat cafe in Thailand for her 24th birthday. The cafe works with the Stray Cat Alliance to encourage fostering and adoptions. For even more cuteness, visit Crumbs & Whiskers in June, when it hosts a Kitten Lounge pop-up. When you’ve had your fill of cat cuddles, head back the way you came.