Bargain L.A. weekend

Get ideas for your next trip from this three-day weekend filled with shopping, a star, and a (brief) TV appearance

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  • Sleek and colorful toys and other items appeal to shoppers of all ages at Plastica.

    Los Angeles deals

    Andrea Gomez

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  • Los Angeles deals

    A savory meal at French Crèpe Co.

Next: Shopping, bakeries, and TV

Before tackling West Third Street's mile of shops between the Beverly Center and the Grove shopping and dining complex, we fuel up at the busy Toast Bakery Cafe. Over eggs and oatmeal, we plan our attack. Jen looks worried. "This isn't enough."

Day 2: Shopping, bakeries, and TV

"Not enough? A person could spend a year shopping at all the stores you mentioned."

"No, not enough food. We'll need more energy."

So we wait at the bakery counter behind a curly-haired brunette in platform shoes. Jen orders a chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting; I get banana pudding.

"You do realize that was a star sighting?" Jen asks as we leave, bag of treats in hand. I shrug.

"Sara Gilbert? From "Roseanne"? And Twins?" It's my first star sighting ever. I'm just glad Jen is here to clue me in.

On West Third Street, we browse among Plastica's sleek kids' toys, sassy dresses in Trina Turk, and elegant dishes at Zipper Art Form + Function.

After four hours of shopping, I need to sit down. I pull Jen into Doughboys Bakery, and though we have yet to try our cupcakes, I can't resist the towering Red Velvet cake. Ab fab, as they say in L.A. Or maybe they don't ― regardless, the cake is great.

When I tell Jen about the must-do L.A. adventure I've scheduled next, she suddenly decides to rush home to her kids. She's not opposed to being a member of a TV audience, it's just the only show that fits our schedule is Best Damn Sports Show Period. Taggart women are endurance shoppers, not sports fans.

Inside the studio, I'm flattered that the guy in charge puts me in the front row ― until I realize that the camera is directly in front of me. Not only do I miss some of the action, but when the camera turns to scan the audience, it only catches my shoulder. So much for getting discovered.

But I do have fun watching the taping: I learn things I never expected to know about boxing, and the hosts joke with the audience during breaks.

It's late by the time I get to the famed open-air Farmers Market, where dozens of restaurants offer a global choice of food. I order a ham-and-Swiss treat at the French Crêpe Co.'s counter, sitting beside another solo diner. In a cotton T and sports coat, with a scruffy goatee, he looks entirely L.A., especially as he barks into his cell phone: "But my look," he shouts. "What did they say about my look?"

Back at the hotel, I'm just in time to catch the sports show. Before a commercial break, I catch a flash of a very familiar shoulder.

It couldn't have been a more L.A. day.

The tab: Day 2

Toast Bakery Cafe breakfast, plus cupcakes $29.98

Marathon shopping on West Third Street FREE

Red Velvet cake, latte, and chocolate milk, Doughboys Bakery $12.50

Studio TV audience member FREE

Dinner at French Crêpe Co. $12.22



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