Shopping in Chicago: 6 Places You Won't Want to Miss
From luxury retailers on the iconic Magnificent Mile, to vintage wares in Wicker Park and Bucktown, to the art galleries of River North, Chicago has some of the world's best shopping.
As the third largest city in the United States, it's no wonder that more than 40 million people visit Chicago every year. From Navy Pier, to the Lincoln Park Zoo, to the Magnificent Mile, and everything in between, the Windy City offers tourists and locals alike an unbelievable number of attractions. And with so many people visiting each year and nearly three million permanent residents, the city is a big draw for store owners and major corporations. It is home to stores like Eataly, the largest artisanal Italian food and wine emporium in the world, one of the highest grossing Nordstrom's in the world, an American Girl superstore, and over 500 retailers on the iconic Magnificent Mile alone. While you are enjoying a day (or two or three) of shopping, you certainly won't be without the necessities, as the city also boasts over 7,300 restaurants, 200 hotels, and countless spas, salons, fitness facilities, and more.
The city of Chicago is spread over 237 square miles of land split into 77 community areas. While each certainly boasts its own share of shopping and fun, several areas in particular are known for their massive malls, unique locally owned shops, or quirky retailers. Whether you are looking for high end clothing or jewelry retailers, vintage wares, art galleries, or something else entirely, Chicago has a place for you. Here are a few must sees to include in your next visit.
“Only 30 more minutes until the Pop-Up Marketplace officially opens! #TheMagMile #ShopFest”
Topping the list is perhaps the most well known Chicago shopping area and one of the biggest attractions for tourists visiting the Windy city for the first time. Situated on North Michigan Avenue and running thirteen blocks from the Chicago River to Oak Street, the Mag Mile has over 275 restaurants, 60 hotels, and 460 stores. The stretch offers stores for every kind of shopper imaginable. There are classic chain staples like Brook Brothers, Loft, Nike, Ann Taylor, and Under Armour. There are specialty national brands like Harley Davidson, Crate and Barrel, and the Disney Store. Luxury brand stores are also abundant on the strip, including Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Tory Burch, Tiffany & Co. and Tommy Bahama to name a few.
Smaller, locally owned and operated stores also hold their own among the big names. C.D. Peacock was established in 1837, the same year that Chicago was incorporated as a city, and it has been offering the finest in jewelry, watches, and gifts ever since. For those looking for something equally sweet, but easier on the wallet than a diamond necklace, Candyality opened in 2007 and has since opened three more locations in the Chicago area, one of which is on the Mag Mile strip. Arts and Artisans also has a location on the Magnificent Mile, where they sell everything from jewelry to wall hangings to clothing and more. They offer works by artists from around the world, but with a focus on locals in the Chicago and Illinois area. Their inventory is always changing, and many of their pieces are one of a kind, so be sure to stop back often to see what's new.
Bonus: If you're visiting at the end of the summer, be sure not to miss the The Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival, four days packed with fashion shows, in-store deals and specials, celebrity appearances, concerts and more. The festival is usually held at the beginning of September.
The Magnificent Mile is also home to several high rise shopping malls and complexes, each so large and unique that they warrant their own listings. Check out the below listings for 900 North Michigan Shops, The Shops at North Bridge, and Water Tower Place to see what else the Magnificent Mile has to offer.
900 North Michigan Shops
“Many know the 900 North Michigan Shops as "The Bloomingdale's Building". What many do not know is that we have that and so much more: 70 Shops . 7…”
When taking a stroll down the Magnificent Mile, it's hard to miss the towering, six level Bloomingdale's that is the anchor store for the 900 North Michigan Shops. The first of the three shopping centers located along the Mag Mile strip, this complex is home to ten dining options and over seventy retailers, most of which are luxury outlets. If you don't empty your wallet at Bloomingdale's, venture inside where you'll find J. Crew, lululemon athletica, Gucci, Kate Spade New York, Michael Kors, and more. If clothes and handbags aren't your thing, swing by Sur La Table, a chain of over 100 stores specializing in cooking classes and luxury kitchen tools and cookware, to pick up those hard to find kitchen supplies. Or stop by Coulson's Music Bookstore, home to over 20,000 music books. Looking for a bargain? Stop by Luxury Garage Sale, a consignment boutique where you'll find designer and vintage clothing for less.
Bonus: For those visiting from out of town, stop by the Concierge Desk to receive special offers and incentives, including an offer for a free gift with a $100 purchase.
The Shops at North Bridge
“No #mondayblues here when you're shopping on @themagmile! 😎#caseofthemondays #mychicagopix #nordstrom #nordstromchi #shopping #themagmile”
Another must-see stop on the Magnificent Mile is The Shops at North Bridge mall. Anchored by Nordstrom and filled with high end stores and restaurants, this four story mall stretches across six city blocks, and is arguably the most luxurious shopping center in Chicago. Here you'll find luxury favorites like Louis Vuitton, Armani Exchange, Hugo Boss, White House Black Market, and more. Also sprinkled throughout the mall are more affordable retailers like Charming Charlie's and XXI Forever. Men will enjoy a stop at The Art of Shaving, a store dedicated to providing all the necessities for achieving the "Perfect Shave." Check out the latest technology with a visit to the Microsoft store or Bose. The largest Italian marketplace in the world, Eatly, has its biggest store in the United State here as well. Stop by the 63,000 square foot facility for a complimentary tasting, to pick up hard to find luxury ingredients, or to take a cooking class where you'll learn to make an Italian dish that's sure to impress your friends.
Bonus: The Shops at North Bridge are pet friendly, so bring Fido along and be sure to stop at one of the pet stations on the first two levels where you can pick up treats and waste bags or grab a drink for your four-legged friend.
Water Tower Place
“love this view from Instagram user @griselda__x Shopping!!! #WaterTowerPlace Repost from @griselda__xo with @repostapp”
Water Tower Place, a six story shopping complex, may be known for bringing more affordable retailers into the high end market that is downtown Chicago, but that doesn't make the mall any less of a luxury destination than the other malls along the Mag Mile stretch. With Macy's as an anchor and the world famous Ritz Carlton high above the floors that contain the mall, Water Tower Place has attracted its fair share of luxury tenants, from Banana Republic to Lacoste to Pandora, and more. Other shops include clothing favorites like Abercrombie and Fitch, GAP, Free People, and Pink, and specialty stores like Oakley, Vera Bradley, and The Body Shop. If you have kids with you, the American Girl Store and the Lego Store are two must-sees for an afternoon of fun, where you can dine with your dolls at the American Girl Cafe or build from your imagination at Lego.
Bonus: No visit to Water Tower Place is complete without stopping for a sweet treat at Candyality, Godiva, or the new Gelato store, Amorino.
Wicker Park and Bucktown
“Not a cloud in the sky, 52 degrees, it's March 9th and Big Star's patio is open. #wickerpark”
When you need a break from the crowds and chain stores of the Magnificent Mile and its shopping centers, head on over to Wicker Park and Bucktown, the self proclaimed "hipster" part of town (or one of them, at least). Here you'll find a selection of vintage and thrift stores, floral boutiques, coffee shops and more, nearly all locally owned and operated. Didn't find that perfect outfit downtown? Head on over to Silver Moon, a vintage store owned by a fashion stylist for Aerosmith that specializes in formal attire and day wear. Or stop by Marine Layer to check out their full line of men's and women's clothing, and their specialty, perfectly soft t-shirts. For some non-clothing shopping, visit Cat and Mouse Game Shop to find a game or puzzle that will help to release your inner child, or stop by Myopic Bookstore, one of Chicago's oldest and largest book retailers.
Bonus: Love the buy-one-give-one giant known as Tom's? They have a shop here that sells their coffee, sunglasses, clothing, accessories, and of course, shoes!
“It's bucketing in Perth, which takes me back to my first day in Chi-Town! The windy city, bucketing on the day of our arrival, but nothing stopped us from…”
When clothing, handbags, jewelry, and shoes become overwhelming, a visit to the unique River North area of Chicago is the perfect escape. Known for having one of the largest concentrations of art galleries in the country, second only to New York, River North is the place to go for unique artwork from around the world and around the Chicago area. Each shop is unique in its style and offerings. Visit the Kenneth Probst Gallery, where you'll find American and European Impressionist paintings. Or the Maya-Polsky Gallery, which specializes in sculpture. The possibilities are truly endless, and you'll want to dedicate at least a day to wandering the colorful galleries at your leisure to enjoy all they have to offer. Book a stay in the heart of River North at the famous Trump Hotel or Hotel Felix for a taste of true luxury.
Bonus: When you're finished perusing or just need a break, River North is also home to some of Chicago's best restaurants. Visit the every popular Rainforest Cafe or Hardrock Cafe, or try a local favorite like O'Leary's Public House, named for the infamous cow that started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 after knocking over a lantern.
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