If you love to shop, window shop, or just watch people, you must visit The Magnificent Mile. It is chock-full of the best stores in America, and you will find everything that you have ever needed here. The stores range from the classy, like Ralph Lauren and Tiffany’s, to the bargain-hunter’s paradise of Filenes’s Basement. There is truly something for everyone.
If you have a person that isn’t too interested in clothes or shopping but likes sports and high-tech gadgets, drop them off at Niketown, the Sony Store (amazing new stuff in there), or FAO Schwartz. In fact, in my opinion, everyone should visit the FAO Schwartz at least once while they are in Chicago.
In addition to the high-end and specialty shops, there are stores for every type of style. There is a four-floor Gap, a two-floor Banana Republic, a two-story Victoria’s Secret, two United Colors of Benetton stores, a Timberland Store (sorry, never been inside, so I do not know how large it is), an H&M, a Chanel store, a three-story Crate and Barrel, a Kate Spade store, Nine West, Hugo Boss, Abercrombie, and Hermes.
If you want to get all your shopping done in one place, there are several department stores, including Marshall Fields (a Chicago tradition), Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales. These stores sell everything, from wedding dresses to pots and pans. If you can’t find something you like in one of these stores, then you need to come take a shopping lesson with me.
In my opinion, the best time to visit Michigan Avenue is during the Christmas season. This is one thing the city of Chicago does right - they decorate for the holidays! There is greenery and lights everywhere, and music usually coming from most of the stores. If you get a light dusting of snow (otherwise known as lake-effect flurries), you will be walking in a winter wonderland and put in the holiday mood. In addition, there is a free trolley that runs from Michigan Avenue to Water Tower Place to Navy Pier. This way, you can get all your holiday shopping done in one day and not have to worry about taking it all on the train/L or getting a cab.
One of the best things to do on Michigan Avenue is to just sit and people-watch. If it is nice out, there is a little park by the water tower; if not, find a little coffee shop to rest your tired feet at. You will see a perfect cross-section of America walking along Michigan Avenue at any given time, all types of races, genders, religions, nationalities, fashion choices, and more. It is always interesting to see if you can discern between the locals and the tourists.
Whether you go to Michigan Avenue for serious shopping, window browsing, or just to take in the sites, you will know why it is called The Magnificent Mile.