If you think Rodeo Drive is a series of snooty stores with scornful staffs, you're in for a pleasant surprise. True, this legendary street does offer three blocks of the world's most expensive shops, and you can't even enter one of them, Bijan, without an appointment. But Bijan is the exception. You'll be welcome at Armani, Christian Dior, Fendi, Chanel, the shops in Anderton Court (one of Frank Lloyd Wright's few forays into retail architecture), and the street's two glittery Cartiers, even if you're "just looking." At Two Rodeo Drive, an upscale shopping center masquerading as a cobblestone piazza, you'll find free valet parking for two hours.
In addition, Rodeo Drive has always offered more than just pricey stores. The street boasts two verdant parks (Beverly Gardens and Will Rogers Memorial), lavish homes, and two five-star hotels (the Regent Beverly Wilshire and the Beverly Hills Hotel). At the Regent, where Richard Gere and Julia Roberts found love in the film Pretty Woman, you'll find high tea served in the Lobby Lounge Restaurant. At the kitschier pink-plaster Beverly Hills Hotel, drinks and star spotting are the order of the day in the Polo Lounge. Of course, if you're on a strict budget, skip the hotels and head back to Two Rodeo Drive, where McCormick & Schmick's Fish House serves $1.95 hamburgers at happy hour. You'll be chowing down on Beverly Hills's best bargain.
Where it is: Running right through the middle of Beverly Hills, Calif., from Sunset to Wilshire Boulevard (a short spur continues south of Wilshire, but it's occupied by homes of no great interest).
Who will like it: Stargazers, young and old; free spenders and avid window-shoppers; strollers seeking relief from autocentric Los Angeles.
What's there: Landmark five-star hotels, elegant homes, celebrities, and, famously, some of the world's most expensive shops.
When to go: Midweek, to avoid the biggest crowds; early Sunday morning, for the most peaceful window-shopping; evenings during the holiday season, to admire the thousands of twinkling lights and other decorations that bedeck the avenue.
Illustration by Michael Klein 
This article was first published in July 2001. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.