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Expert Tips

 

Designer, vintage, contemporary and antique: Chicago's shopping hubs have it all



Chicagoans needn't travel very far to reach designer, artsy, chain or indie shops and tourists from around the world adore coming to the city to shop. Especially since many impressive shopping centers, Water Tower Place900 North Michigan Shops and the Magnificent Mile, are a short stroll or cab ride from downtown hotels. You'll find major national and international brands alongside local, independent favorites. Many malls include entertainment and other amenities, like the Chicago Sports Museum in Water Tower Place or three spas in 900 North Michigan Shops located on the north end of the Magnificent Mile.

Venture just outside the city limits and additional shopping experiences await including the massive indoor mall, Woodfield. If you have access to a car or need to kill some time while waiting for a flight out of O’Hare International Airport, be sure to visit Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont. It’s an international shopping mecca with outlet stores like Burberry, Longchamp and Prada, as well as less pricey brands like Nike, PUMA and GAP.

As indoor malls try to reinvent themselves in the Amazon age, neighborhoods like Andersonville and Lakeview as well as markets such as Randolph St. Market have an independent appeal affording shoppers genuinely unique experiences and goods. 


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This shopping center features more than 450,000 square feet of space and includes many well known, upscale stores like a massive Bloomingdale's, MaxMara, Gucci, Micheal Kors, Kate Spade New York, L'Occitane and J. Crew. The complex also includes Aster Hall, a 22,000-square-foot food hall, located on the fifth and sixth levels. The 16 stations, called food vaults due to their unique architecture, are cooking up street tacos, sushi, steamy soups, burgers, breakfast items and vegan bowls, plus coffee and cocktails. Out-of-town visitors can stop at the Concierge Desk to receive the Exclusively 900 Card which entitles them to an array of incentives and savings throughout the center. Scan the web site for details on special pop up shops, too.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: There is parking outdoors as well as a self park garage attached to the 900 North Michigan Shops.

Jacky's expert tip: Check the web site for special tax-free shopping days and partnerships with Chicago cultural institutions.

Read more about 900 North Michigan Shops →


9
Schaumburg


Every imaginable national clothing store chain is inside this massive, indoor mall, one of the largest in the United States. You'll find everything from Claire's Boutique to Coach, plus kiosks inviting customers to sample new products. Nearly 30 full and quick-service eateries are scattered throughout and a new dining pavilion is in the works. Entertainment options include The Improv, a comedy club, and Yu Kids Island, a toddler play area. Mall exercisers can blow out their pedometers walking the more than 2.2 million square feet and if you can take even more retail exposure, hop the trolley to more shops outdoors at Woodfield Village Green and The Streets of Woodfield.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: The nearly 300 stores, attractions and restaurants will put you in a shopping stupor.

Jacky's expert tip: Travel during non-rush hour to avoid backed-up exit ramps around the mall.

Read more about Woodfield Mall →




The six-block shopping district features more than 50 world-class retailers as well as 20 restaurants. Luxury travel goods and accessories brand MCM recently opened its first Chicago location at The Shops at North Bridge in early 2020. The shopping center is anchored by Nordstrom's flagship location. Shop Stuart Weitzman, MAC Cosmetics, ALEX AND ANI, ELOQUII, Kiehl's, Le Creuset, Lucky Brand and the wildly popular Italian concept Eataly. Sup on great Asian fare at Lao Sze Chuan; Big Bowl; and Eddie V's Prime Seafood. Be sure to stop at Vosges' for exotic truffles by owner/chocolatier, Katrina Markoff, who personally chooses every spice, flower and chocolate that is flown into their Chicago kitchen. Make a minimum $10 purchase at The Shops at North Bridge or Nordstrom and get discount parking validation.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: Right in the heart of the Magnificent Mile, the pet friendly Shops at North Bridge is anchored by Nordstrom's flagship location and offers impressive dining options.

Jacky's expert tip: Fuel up at on-site Chicago-born eateries like Goddess and the Baker, Pot Belly and Harold's Chicken.

Read more about The Shops at North Bridge →


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The urban mall in the core of the Loop draws lots of shoppers from nearby dorms and apartment buildings as well as those who still love State Street shopping. The five-story shopping and entertainment center, located in the heart of the Chicago Loop's Theater District, is home to a two-level Anthropologie, AKIRA Chicago, Zara, Sephora, L 'Occitane en Provence, Disney Store and Godiva Chocolatier. As stores fold, malls are filling square footage with entertainment and in the case of Block Thirty-Seven, there's an AMC dine-in movie theater; a climbing and fitness center; and restaurants, including Magnolia Bakery, a grilled cheese joint, Farmer's Fridge for grab 'n' go healthy food, a Kefir shop and Latinicity, an upscale Latin food court and market with 10 innovative kitchens. Stop in Hot Tix for half-price tickets to over 200 Chicago area theaters.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: One of the newer malls in downtown Chicago (with a decidedly young bent) has direct access to Chicago's Pedway, the CTA Red and Blue Lines.

Jacky's expert tip: Block Thirty Seven takes its name from the original 58 city blocks established in 1830.

Read more about Block Thirty Seven →




If shopping independent stores are more to your liking, head to Southport Corridor, easily accessible via the CTA Brown Line and a short walk from Wrigley Field. Southport oozes "Chicago" with an eclectic mix of clothing and accessory boutiques, dynamite restaurants and family attractions. Krista K is a well-regarded boutique stocking a thoughtful mix of emerging designers and perennial favorites. Men should stop in at the Denim Lounge for Men for superior denim and gifts for guys. M2 Boutique offers gorgeous bags and gifts of all sorts. Long-time neighborhood outdoor and equipment store, Uncle Dan's, will outfit you in clothes and accessories for men, women and kids. When you need a lift, head to Frio Gelato for a scoop of rich gelato and icy sorbets made with fresh ingredients as well as allergy-friendly ingredients. Southport Corridor is also home to an Amazon Store as well as several upscale national chains such as Anthropologie, Kendra Scott, Lush Cosmetics, Bonobos, Evereve, Lou & Grey & Johnny Was.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: Southport Corridor is a walkable fresh air shopping street with independent businesses lending a small town feel in Chicago.

Jacky's expert tip: Hungry? Tied House (with a James Beard Award-Winning chef and three-season patio) has a menu of New American fare and cocktails in an airy space with an outdoor fireplace.

Read more about Southport Corridor →




Fashion Outlets of Chicago opened in 2013 and has become a popular shopping spot near Chicago for tourists and locals. The mall's upper level has high-end stores like Bose, Gucci, Armani and Prada, with the first-floor occupied by favorites like Nike, GAP, PUMA and Saks. There's a free shuttle to the mall from O'Hare International Airport, which is just a few minutes away. The mall's guest services area offers a wide range of travel-related services and there are several good food options, including health food from Freshii, Vegetarian at Maoz, or confections from Lindt, Häagen-Dazs or Godiva. The new Tapville Social sources local craft beer, fine wines and cider, too. The facility also offers a multifaceted public art program, THE COLLECTION: Where Art Meets Fashion, site-specific commissions by established and mid-career artists, as well as rotating exhibitions featuring a variety of artists throughout the year.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: The large indoor designer outlet mall is close to O'Hare International Airport.

Jacky's expert tip: Parking is free in the indoor lot. Look for green lights above the parking spaces, which indicate an open spot.

Read more about Fashion Outlets of Chicago →


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Andersonville


On Chicago's north side, Andersonville is known for its Swedish roots, unique shopping, destination dining and busy urban corridor, Clark Street. Among the shops in the National Historic District are more than a few antique and vintage stores; candy shops; bookstores; lots of spots featuring clothing and accessories; furniture; music; kitchenware; pet supplies; shoes; and food and wine. Visit during the annual Sidewalk Sale that coincides with the annual used book sale. A few of the standouts that you won't find elsewhere in Chicago include the refined presentation at SCOUT, an array of oddities at Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities; and refurbished large-scale antique cabinets and dining tables at Andersonville Antiques. Cowboys and Astronauts stocks menswear, home comforts and grooming products. Gethsemane Garden Center is known for fresh floral and easy-to-care-for plants and Dearborn Denim creates Made in Chicago jeans that are custom-tailored in the shop for each and every customer.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: Andersonville checks in with over 330 businesses in the Chamber of Commerce membership affording shoppers a unique experience.

Jacky's expert tip: Andersonville is recognized as the "shop local capital of Chicago," with the largest network of local and independent businesses. It is also home to one of Chicago's largest LGBTQ+ populations.

Read more about Andersonville →




Named USA Today's "Top 10 American Flea Markets," Randolph Street Market celebrates 17 years in 2020 in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood. Pickers find a one-stop-shop extravaganza with an array of goods plus entertainment, food and fun from more than 300 vendors. The European-style antiques and vintage market (some call it "the Barney's of Vintage") stocks home design, antiques and vintage, fashion, artwork, jewelry and all kinds of treasures. It's strictly indoors during winter but spills out onto the property outside from late spring through fall expanding to over five acres of shopping, continuous live music and refreshments, not to mention people-watching. Check the web site for the dates of the monthly two-day market festival that takes place rain or shine.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: It's one of the largest, longest running, and highly praised vintage markets in Chicago.

Jacky's expert tip: There are four parking options depending upon the month you're visiting, check the web site.

Read more about Randolph Street Market →


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Magnificent Mile


There's more than shopping at Water Tower Place, an eight-level shopping center located at the northern tip of the Magnificent Mile. In addition to 104 stores, there are myriad dining options, a theater that is part of Broadway in Chicago and the Chicago Sports Museum. Shops like a massive Lego Store, Macy's, Forever 21 and Sephora share space with foodlife, which features 14 kitchens serving food made from scratch daily. People come from all over the world to shop at the American Girl Place store. New shopping includes IRL (in real life) an immersive experience that aims to keep brick and mortar shopping alive. You are encouraged to touch, learn and experience new products from brands that are normally only available online. Forever 21's new beauty boutique. Riley Rose is a bright and colorful new space focused on accessories, cosmetics and home goods for millennials.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: In addition to 104 shops, there are full and quick service restaurants plus Foodlife and Foodease with 14 restaurants in a food hall.

Jacky's expert tip: There's a new co-working space with meeting rooms so you can shop, dine and set up work space to use while enjoying the Magnificent Mile.

Read more about Water Tower Place →


"The Magnificent Mile," is perhaps the best-known place to shop in Chicago. It's also the most crowded especially in the summer and during holidays. The stores - clothing designers like Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Burberry, and other stores like Apple, Nike, Sugar Bliss, Uniqlo, Dylan's Candy Bar, are nestled among the skyscrapers. There are malls along the "Mag Mile" as well, including Water Tower Place and the 900 North Michigan Shops, and The Shops at North Bridge, which includes a four-story Nordstrom with a massive shoe department that takes up the whole first floor. The Apple Store and new Starbucks Chicago Roastery (a five-story behemoth with the Midwest's first curved elevator) represent a move forward in on-site tech amenities advancing the shopper experience. Ulta flagship store, Ugg Store and Canada Goose are the latest additions. Outdoor patios and rooftop lounges provide great views during the summer

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: Unequalled shopping in Chicago mixed with street performers, historic buildings and great people watching make the Mag Mile one of the country's best shopping districts.

Jacky's expert tip: Start your shopping sojourn early on weekdays for the least crowded experience.

Read more about Magnificent Mile & Streeterville →


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Meet Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and...  More About Jacky

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