Shopping and travel go hand in hand. Add fun activities and history, and travelers will have an even more fabulous time.
High-profile retail destinations are more than places to shop, with history, architecture, dining and entertainment as well as shopping, often at high-end stores that sell distinctive luxury items.
Whether travelers want to take in the architecture and history of The Magnificent Mile in Chicago or ride a roller coaster between stops in shops at the Mall of America, they’ll get more bang for their buck when they visit these five shopping destinations.
The Magnificent Mile
The architecture, history and shopping options at The Magnificent Mile in Chicago are dazzling. Between Lake Michigan and the Chicago River in the Michigan Avenue District, the Mile has the best and most luxurious shopping experiences in the city.
Initially started as a revitalization project, the construction of the Magnificent Mile nearly came to a halt after the stock market crashed in 1929. In 1947, real estate developer Arthur Rubloff launched an extensive promotional plan to revitalize the district. His goal was to renovate the existing buildings and make the area a must-see destination. Rubloff called his project “The Magnificent Mile,” but the name didn’t become official until it was trademarked in 2001.
Today, more than 450 retailers are strung along this strip: major department stores, flagship stores, shops featuring international designers, boutiques, jewelers, high-end technology retailers, stores focused on travel needs and luxury hotels. And the best part? The district has maintained its original character and Rubloff’s vision.
“As a result of its concentration of luxury stores and hotels, the Magnificent Mile has become a popular destination for wealthy shoppers from all over the world,” said Denise Chudy, director of marketing and communications for The Magnificent Mile Association.
Shoppers even find boutiques for four-legged family members, where they can purchase supplies, accessories, treats, leashes, carriers and fashions for their pets.
“The Magnificent Mile offers a unique collection of high-end global brands, like Gucci, Hermes and Louis Vuitton, as well as smaller luxury boutiques, selling everything from high-end cosmetics to bespoke suits,” Chudy said.
Beverly Hills, California
Rodeo Drive just screams California dreamin’ and luxury, with three blocks of high-end shops housed in striking buildings designed by Peter Marino, Frank Lloyd Wright, Rem Koolhaas and other legendary architects. It’s a street packed with art and culture, home to more than 100 leading international brands inside immaculate shops, a boulevard that’s synonymous with old Hollywood glamor,
The retail area is bookended to the north by the famous ‘pink palace’ — the Beverly Hills Hotel — and to the south by the legendary Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons hotel, which has been featured in several Hollywood movies, like “Pretty Woman.”
Travelers from around the world are drawn to the celebrated and majestic, palm-lined street in Beverly Hills to experience its ambiance, luxury shopping, fine dining, historic landmarks and the possibility of a celebrity sighting.
Visitors can shop at Rolex, Jimmy Choo, Prada, Vera Wang, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Co., Gucci, Fendi, Chanel, Burberry, Dolce and Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, Cartier and more. When travelers need a break from their shopping excursions, they can relax at one of the luxury boutique hotels along the way.
Mall of America
The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, isn’t a regular mall with stores and a food court — it’s an experience. The largest mall in the Western hemisphere not only has 500 world-class stores, but also features an amusement park within its 5.6 million square feet.
“From leisure group tours and family reunions to industry conferences and student groups, the Mall of America truly offers something for everyone,” said Samantha Sommers, tourism account executive for Mall of America.
When they aren’t in the stores, taking advantage of tax-free shopping on clothing and shoes or dining in one of the mall’s many restaurants, groups can solve puzzles at the Escape Game, try axe-throwing at the Fair on 4 and learn from experts on marine life at Sea Life. The Mall of America also offers tours with flexible scheduling, including evenings and weekends. Customized group tours are also offered.
New York City
For a memorable New York window shopping experience, travelers must visit Fifth Avenue, the city’s most famous shopping street.
Fifth Avenue is also known as Millionaire’s Row because of the expensive private residences that lined the avenue north from 34th Street during the Gilded Age. Vanderbilts, Astors, Carnegies and other elites owned the mansions at the time. The neighborhood’s high concentration of wealth lured luxury retailers to serve these well-heeled residents.
Today Gucci, Prada, Tiffany and Co., Fendi, Louis Vuitton and other high-end designers have flagship stores on Fifth Avenue, where shoppers can visitors can peruse luxury brands as they people-watch.
Of course, shoppers won’t want to miss Saks Fifth Avenue, one of the most prestigious high-end department stores in the world, with 10 floors dedicated to luxury items. In addition to stores, Fifth Avenue is also home to world-famous museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum. The street stretches from Lower Manhattan to Harlem, and a stroll up its length takes visitors past Rockefeller Center, the Flatiron Building, The New York Public Library, Central Park and Bryant Park.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
For international shopping destinations, look no further than the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy. It is Italy’s oldest shopping gallery and a major landmark, noted for its glass-vaulted double arcades, which cover the street that connects Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Scala. Within that galleria are some of Milan’s oldest shopping destinations.
Along Via Monte Napoleone and Via della Spiga, visitors will find the famous La Rinascente department store, which sells everything from top fashion brands like Dolce and Gabbana, Prada and Gucci to home appliances.
When hunger hits, shoppers can dive into gourmet delis selling prepared meals, meat and cheese spreads and, of course, wine, in the Mercato di San Lorenzo, one of Italy’s oldest markets. The Corso Buenos Aires shopping district is home to big names like Bulgari and Versace.