You can find shopping in some form or fashion almost everywhere. But there are not many like Chicago´s renowned Magnificent Mile. The mile long boulevard in the midwestern metropolis ranks as one of the most famous shopping districts in the world.
The Magnificent Mile – home to Chicago’s leading shopping district – lives up to its glorious name. The mile long shopping street with its approximately 460 stores, 275 restaurants and a myriad of sightseeing and entertainment attractions draws more than 22 million shoppers annually. Located downtown on Michigan Ave., Chicago´s most famous street, this decadent boulevard hosts world-class malls, shops and stores like Nordstrom, TJMaxx, Marshalls, Bloomingdale´s, Marcus and the Water Tower Place.
The latter ranks as the highlight of The Magnificent Mile. At the Water Tower Place shops include kids friendly stores like The Lego Store and American Girl plus more than 100 other stores, specialty shops, boutiques, spas and restaurants. Other numerous architectural gems along The Magnificent Mile include the Tribune Tower, whose façade incorporates more than 150 fragments from historic buildings and sites from around the world, like the Winter Palace in Beijing and the Great Pyramid in Giza.
If you look across the street from the Tribune Tower you´ll see the iconic Wrigley Building with its shining white façade. Just down the road from these two spectacular sights you can enter the Chicago Riverwalk, board a water taxi and see the city from Chicago River and the manmade canals that run through downtown. To tourists the water taxi is a wonderful and at 10 dollars a not very costly sightseeing option, to Chicagoans it is a favorite mode of public transportation.
The Magnificent Mile shopping district encompasses a 13-block stretch of Michigan Avenue that runs from the banks of the Chicago River to the south to Oak Street to the north. A real estate developer called Arthur Rubloff is credited with the glorious nickname when he in 1947 launched his Magnificent Mile plan to rejuvenate Chicago´s post-war economy. Today it is truly an unforgettable experience even if your credit cards may run amok.
And finally a couple of insider tips: Some malls and other shopping centers, like the aforementioned Water Tower Place, The Shops at North Bridge and 900 North Michigan Shops will deliver your shopping bags to your hotel the same day, freeing you to continue your exploring without your arms full. An insider will also tell you that The Magnificent Mile is considered one of the safest areas in Chicago since this is where all the tourist hotels are and the area where most tourists both stay and spend their time.
What not to miss
GET THE BIRD´S-EYE VIEW
There is no better place to get a bird´s-eye view of Chicago than from the observation deck of the 110-story Willis Tower, once the tallest building in the world. When it was completed in 1973 the Sears Tower, as it was called then, surpassed New York´s World Trade Center to become the tallest building, a title it held for almost 25 years. The skyscraper changed its name to Willis Tower in 2009 and is currently the third tallest building in the U.S. and the Western hemisphere. You will not be alone waiting for the speedy elevator to take you to the observation deck on the 103rd floor more that 400 meters above street level. More than a million people visit the deck annually, making it one of Chicago´s most popular tourist attractions. From the observation deck you see all of downtown and Lake Michigan. It is one mile (appr. 1.6 kilometers) between Willis Tower and The Magnificent Mile.
HOUSE OF BLUES
The blues may have been born way south in the Mississippi delta, but many of its bluesmen and some women hopped on the train and traveled north to Chicago making this northern city the home of the blues. Two famous Chicago blues artists of yesteryear are Muddy Waters and Howlin´ Wolf. The current House of Blues opened in 1996 to much hoopla. Chicago´s blues bastion is located in the heart of downtown, is owned by Dan Ackroyd of Blues Brothers and the Chicago native, actor, comedian, singer and musician, Jim Belushi. You could easily spend a whole day at House of Blues, investigating its music hall, enjoying a bite to eat and something to drink at the restaurant & bar while listening to live blues music played by super artists. There are also blues concerts and even gospel brunches to take in. House of Blues is located 0.7 miles (appr. 1 kilometer) from The Magnificent Mile.
“SIGHTSEE” LIKE A LOCAL
Chicagoans use the water taxis as a way to get around in Chicago. If you do as they do you can sightsee downtown Chicago from the water and take in the sights for only 10 dollars. Without traffic lights or ques you cruise through the famous loop, see Michigan Avenue, Chicago Riverwalk, Goose Island, Chinatown, Chicago Avenue and all the breathtaking skyscrapers from the deck of a slow moving canal boat. An ideal outing for taking pictures, either with your cell phone or your camera. Strongly recommended.