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Chicago

marshall field macy's clockThe Windy City's place on the shopping map was solidified back in the frontier days when Chicago-based Sears and Montgomery Ward began sending their catalog items to homes. Marshall Field's, opened in 1852, gave the city a pioneering department store. Today you can buy in the Windy City pretty much what you can buy in other American cities -- well, maybe there are more Bears T-shirts here -- but shoppers are drawn by the name brands conveniently consolidated on the Magnificent Mile, where you can find everything from Patagonia to Prada. Housewares and clothes are the big sellers. A favorite souvenir is the delectable Frango mint chocolates on sale at Macy's (previously Marshall Field's). Chicago also has an emerging local fashion scene that's worth a look.

The Magnificent Mile, which runs along North Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Oak Street, offers hundreds of designer retail stores, shops and boutiques; it's shopping nirvana. Here at street level and in four upscale malls, you'll find the world's first Crate and Barrel, as well as the very best in department stores: Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's and Neiman Marcus. A must-do stop is the original Marshall Field's (now Macy's), a Chicago shopping icon which opened here in 1852 and boasts century-old clocks and a Tiffany dome; revive from shopping with a fancy lunch in the store's Walnut Room. On the famous stretch you'll also find a Niketown, American Girl Place, and much, much more (name a popular retail brand and it's probably on the Mile).

Fashionistas with expensive tastes will want to check out Oak Street, the place for haute designs from Paris, Milan and New York.

Bargain hunters should hit the shopping complex at 1 N. State Street that houses T.J. Maxx and Filene's Basement, among others (don't miss a visit to the nearby Nordstrom Rack, where the department store offers big price cuts on its wares).

The hubs of the Chicago-designed fashion scene are Bucktown and Wicker Park. These artsy side-by-side neighborhoods offer a range of boutiques from ready-to-wear to couture, as well as home decor shops (contemporary and antique), art galleries and artist studios.
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