Planning a Shopping Trip to Orange County

Where do you go to shop in California when you want a break from Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive? You head to Orange County. Orange County is home to the prestigious South Coast Plaza, an upscale shopping mall that’s the third largest mall in the U.S. The mall is known as “The Ultimate Shopping Resort,” but be careful how you use that name – they have it federally trademarked to prove it.

Of course, this isn’t a mall where you find a food court featuring Sbarros, McDonalds and other fast food fare. This is a mall where you dine at the Armani Cafe, Vie De France, Charlie Palmer’s or Lawry’s Carvery. This is a mall with concierge services, courtesy umbrellas, valet parking, and even a hot beverage service to keep you refreshed during your visit.

In addition, South Coast Plaza has the distinction of having been named the California mall with the highest sales per square foot by none other than Women’s Wear Daily. As the highest grossing mall in the U.S., the revenue generated by the stores in this mall nears $1.5 billion dollars each year. The shopping center has over 280 stores and covers more than 2.6 million square feet, making it one of the largest malls in the entire U.S. Every year, more than 24 million visitors make the trip to shop at South Coast Plaza.

The South Coast Plaza is where you will go when New York is too far away and you want items from upscale stores including Cartier, Montblac, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Hermes and Tiffany’s. Even Nordstroms reports that its store at this location has the highest sales of any store in the United States. Don’t expect to find a Target or a TJ Maxx here – when you shop at the South Coast Plaza, you shop in luxury.

In addition, in 2005, Chloe choose to make South Coast Plaza the home of their second ever United States store. As of Fall 2008, Chloe still didn’t have another store in Southern California, even at Rodeo Drive or in Beverly Hills.

However, the Plaza has more to offer than just fabulous shopping and dining. In addition, a digital media focused branch, the Orange Lounge, is actually a part of the Orange County Museum of Art. It’s well worth a stop once you’ve perused all the designer goods you can handle.

Because of its unique collection of department stores and boutiques, the mall has cemented its place in pop culture. Shows where hip teens are featured, including Beverly Hills 90210, The OC, and Clueless, have all referenced this mall. And in designer advertisements, South Coast Plaza rubs shoulders with London, Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Beverly Hills and New York City.

To get to the South Coast Plaza, head for Interstate 405 in the area known as South Coast Metro, which sprawls across both Costa Mesa and Santa Ana. If you have any trouble locating the mall, contact the Plaza’s information center for more thorough directions.