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Shopping in Chicago


Chicago's designer shops and upscale department stores – Cartier, Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co, Neiman Marcus – keep up the quality of the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue just north of the Chicago River). But there are some 400 other clothiers and specialty stores on the thoroughfare, as well. The Mile hosts everything from Garrett Popcorn to the high-tech Apple (Mac) Store. Oak Street, at the north end of the Magnificent Mile, has the most exclusive boutiques – Prada, Hermes, Barneys – and its own valet parking.

For a sampling of the shopping in the historic downtown Loop, just walk along State Street from Macy's (formerly Marshall Field's) to Filene's Basement. The State Street area, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, remains less expensive than the Magnificent Mile.

The area known as River North, distinguished by its array of art galleries, is bounded by Oak, Orleans and State streets north of the Chicago River. For boutique shopping slightly away from the crowds, fan out from the intersection of Armitage and Halsted streets in Lincoln Park or Lakeview's Southport Avenue near Addison.

The hippest area for funky, trendy shops is SoHo-like Wicker Park/Bucktown, centred on Damen, North and Milwaukee avenues. There's a wide range of stores packed into this condensed area, and adventurous shoppers can find everything from racy lingerie to ultracool gifts to Chinese chests.

Don't overlook gift shops in Chicago museums for authentic ethnic fashions and home decor, as well as quality reproductions of masterpieces.

Shopping hours are generally; Monday-Saturday 10 am-8 pm, Sunday noon-5 pm. Some stores stay open late on Thursday, and hours are usually extended during the winter holiday season.

Places to Shop

Magnificent Mile

The parade of designer names begins at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Oak Street, including a couple housed in The Drake hotel, such as the legendary Danish silversmith Georg Jensen, 959 North Michigan Avenue, known for outstanding craftsmanship in sterling silver and gold, including earrings, brooches, watches, tie clips and flatware; and Chanel, 935 North Michigan Avenue. On the next block south is another luxury emporium, the spacious Louis Vuitton store at 919 North Michigan Avenue, where you'll find trendy handbags and the company's distinctive brown-and-gold luggage.

Giorgio Armani's sleek boutique, at 800 North Michigan Avenue, in the Park Hyatt Hotel, faces the small park next to the historic Water Tower. Across the street, a few doors west of Michigan Avenue, is one of Chicago's hottest family destinations: American Girl Place, at 111 East Chicago Avenue. The three-story doll emporium attracts hordes of young girls hooked on the popular mail-order company's line of historic character dolls. A stage show brings stories from the American Girl books to life, and the store's cafe is a nice spot for a special mother-daughter lunch or afternoon tea.

The next block of Michigan Avenue has a New York vibe, thanks to the world's largest Polo Ralph Lauren, 750 North Michigan Avenue, a four-floor, wood-paneled minimansion, and Tiffany & Co, 730 North Michigan Avenue, with its signature clock, jewels and tabletop accessories

A few doors south are Neiman Marcus, 737 North Michigan Avenue, and at 669 North Michigan Avenue, the hugely popular Niketown, a multilevel complex that helped pioneer the concept of retail as entertainment.

At the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Erie Street is the appropriately barrel-shaped Crate & Barrel, 646 North Michigan Avenue. Crate & Barrel was started in Chicago, so this is the company's flagship location. Countless varieties of glassware, dishes, cookware, and kitchen gadgets for everyday use line the shelves. The top two floors are devoted to furniture.

Continuing south, you'll find Burberry, 633 North Michigan Avenue, where the classic beige plaid has moved beyond trench coats to show up on chic purses, shoes and bathing suits.

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