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How to have a great Chicago shopping experience

Want to find the latest pair of fashionable Lucky Brand Jeans? Looking for a kitschy Chicago souvenir? Hoping to find that perfect sexy piece of La Perla lingerie or a pair of authentic Ferragamo shoes? Or maybe you are simply in the city to enjoy the ambience of big city shopping and are curious about those one-of-a-kind deals that come with perusing the various Chicago boutiques and State Street retailers. Whatever the reason, you've definitely made the right decision to visit Chicago, a world-class destination for shopping. The city's "Magnificent Mile" area boasts of diverse retailers, four multi-level malls anchored by classic department stores such as Bloomingdales and Nordstrom, exceptional dining experiences, and extraordinary hotel accommodations. "Oak and Rush" streets feature a refreshing mixture of couture shops and high-end boutiques with prestigious brand names like Kate and Jack Spade, Jimmy Choo, Prada, and Hermes (just to name a few!). Not to be outdone, the center of Chicago neighborhoods, "State Street", offers various specialty retailers for those shoppers looking for a bit more affordable shopping experience. There are many other shopping excursions to venture out on while you are in Chicago. Don't just stay downtown. Live a little and take a quick taxi ride or El ride into one of the many Chicago neighborhoods and shop with the locals. If you are a hip designer conscious shopper who absolutely adores trendy, vintage, and/or alternative digs, then the Bucktown and Wicker Park boutique circuit is a must do! Casa de Soul, Eurotrash, Scoop NYC, and The Silver Room are just a few of the stops along the way. Lakeview has its shopping highlights as well. Gramaphone Records carries vinyl copies of rare and imported dance, rap, and various commercial records. Century Shopping Center is your typical mall that went through a recent renovation in 1999, however, the best feature is its fine arts theater that shows various independent films on seven screens. Boystown (which is East Lakeview) primarily caters to gay men and the area features many themed shops. Oh, and if you're in for a day trip, Chicago (well suburban Schaumburg and Boilingbrook) has two IKEA locations! Chicago shopping has a lot to offer! Unfortunately, you just can't do it all in one day. In an effort to have a more pleasurable experience, please take in consideration the following:

1. How many dedicated shopping days do you have?

2. What is your shopping objective?

3. What is your shopping budget?

4. Are you going solo or are you shopping with friends, family, or even children?

5. Transportation? Parking is not cheap even if you do find a meter! Public transportation or taxi, if your budget allows, is better for the serious shopper.

6. Where is your hotel located?

7. Eating out or packing a lunch?

8. You absolutely must have comfortable shoes! There will be a lot of walking involved. So, hit the sidewalks, be brave, fight those crowds, and find what you're looking for…right in Chicago. RC Williams is a freelance writer and editor. She is a music fanatic and is passionate about writing, reading, arts and entertainment, and of course, shopping!


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