Chicagoland Outlet Shopping
I love Chicago shopping as much as the next twenty-something fashionista, but sometimes, OK most of the time, the glittering lights of Oak Street, Michigan Avenue, and Lincoln Park boutiques exceed my price range. A 9.75% sales tax — the highest sales tax of any U.S. city (shared with Los Angeles) in the United States — doesn’t exactly help either. So when my wardrobe needs a little umph that my wallet can’t always provide, where do I turn? Outlet shopping.
Usually I can coordinate these trips with a longer trip I’m already taking, but a drive to the outlet for a day dedicated to shopping is never a bad idea. Just leave early or late to avoid traffic, no one wants to ruin a perfectly good shopping trip by getting angry about that traffic on 290. I’m partial to the Aurora Outlets myself, as they have a generally nicer and higher end selection of stores, but almost every one of them will have your staples like Gap, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Banana Republic. So, here are UPchicago’s top outlet mall destinations.
Chicago Premium Outlet Malls
1650 Premium Outlets Blvd.
From downtown: I-290 West to I-88 West. Exit at Farnsworth Avenue North
Trip time: About 50 minutes
Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets
601 Wabash Street
Michigan City, IN
From downtown: Take I-90 East to Michigan City, IN. Travel north on US 421/Franklin Street, 9 miles to 6th Street. Left on 6th Street; two blocks to Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets.
Trip Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets
11211 120th Avenue
Pleasant Prairie, WI
From downtown: I-94 North to Exit #347 (Highway 165). Turn right on East Frontage Road.
Trip Time: 1 hour
Gurnee Mills Outlet Mall
6170 W. Grand Ave.
From downtown: I-94 North to Exit #132
Trip Time: 50 minutes