Shopping on Michigan Avenue

shopping michigan avenue

New York has Fifth Avenue, London has Bond Street, Beverly Hills has Rodeo Drive, Paris has the Champ Elysees. Chicago has Michigan Avenue. Considered by many to be among the best shopping in the world, the Magnificent Mile has historical charm and a variety of stores making it a favorite of even the most persnickety shoppers.

To really explore all of the 460 stores Michigan Avenue has to offer would take days. From the obvious fashion titans such as Chanel and Gucci to more affordable options like Victoria’s Secret and J. Crew, there is something for everyone on this mile long stretch of shopping heaven. But Michigan Avenue wasn’t always a shopping mecca. In the 1860s, the famous street was primarily residential. Then beginning in the 1880s, the expansion of the central business district started to replace the homes, and it became the commercial area you see today.

If you’re a big spender looking to drop a pretty penny on a quilted Chanel bag or perhaps a sparkling Bvlgari bauble, the Mag Mile won’t leave you disappointed. And it’s hard to ignore the beautiful window displays of Louis Vuitton, La Perla and Burberry. If truly renowned jewelry is on the list, make sure to stop by Georg Jensen or Van Cleef and Arpels. Chicago is also home to the world’s largest Polo Ralph Lauren, which is four stories tall and offers its own Ralph Lauren Restaurant.

Intimidated by the rows of international storefronts? Don’t be! More inexpensive options are in the vicinity too, and shops like H&M, Zara, and Niketown are close by for all you fashionistas on a budget. One of the things that makes Michigan Avenue a favorite of shoppers all over the world is the variety of shops in such a close radius.

And don’t be fooled–there are many more shops than just the parade of designer storefronts one sees at first glance. Many stores are within malls, most of which take up whole city blocks. Stopping by Water Tower Place is a must. Inside you’ll find a 7-story Macys, as well as fashion forward shops like Cusp (an offset of Neiman Marcus), French Connection, Aritzia, Movado and many more. There is also a large Addidas store and a Brookstone.

Stopping by the stately Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue is highly recommended as well. Even if you’re not looking to shop at these high-end department stores, stopping in during the holidays is completely worth it, just to see the beautiful decorations. And if you’re truly serious about fashion and have some money to spend, booking a personal shopper is for you. Sip tea and relax while your shopper puts together your new wardrobe.

As if that’s not enough to take in, another shopping haven is The 900 Shops mall, featuring 7 levels and 70 luxury retailers. This gorgeous building houses Bloomingdales (another must see store around holiday season) as well as MaxMara, Ugg Australia, Coach, Michael Kors, among others.

Not looking for clothes? Not a problem. If you’re in the market for toys, Michigan Avenue has what you want. The whimsical Disney Store draws in children of all ages – and those of us who are kids at heart – and it’s not possible to ignore the store’s ornate window displays. And for all you mother’s having special shopping days with their daughters stopping by the American Girl store located in the Water Tower Place is a must. The multi-story shop is one of Chicago’s most popular destinations, and between the store’s café and stage shows, it’s no wonder why. Also, for kiddies with a sweet tooth, stopping by the Hershey Store will satisfy alny chocolate craving. The interactive store allows patrons to make their own specialized gifts, become factory workers for a day, and learn about the history of the famous Hershey brand.

Looking for big kid toys? Stop by the Apple store. The two story building with an apple shaped window has all the popular gadgets that will make even the most tech-savvy computer nerds drool. Crate and Barrel is another popular store filled with grownup goodies. From furniture to kitchen appliances, this large, and appropriately barrel shaped emporium is actually the company’s flagship location.

You haven’t seen Chicago until you’ve been to Michigan Avenue. And you haven’t become a true shopper until you’ve made it from one end of Michigan Avenue to the other. We wish you luck, because it might take a while.

Brittney Berget

About Brittney Berget

Brittney has a passion for clothes, writing, good food, and the Cubs. Before moving to Chicago, she attended the University of Iowa and graduated with a degree in journalism and communication studies. "I’m having a blast getting to explore my new hometown, and I hope I can share some of my findings along the way!"

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