Do you consider shopping fun? Whether you have post-wedding cash to spend, simply enjoy browsing, or want a getaway most females will love, include time to shop on vacation.
America's best shopping spots are destinations in themselves. They remind us what we miss when shopping online: Personal service, the ability to feel and try on garments before buying, serendipitous unadvertised sales. Since you can't spend all your vacation time shopping, each place below is near a great place to visit.
Synonymous with Hollywood style and mega-budgets, Rodeo Drive was immortalized in the film Pretty Woman as an ultra-snobby place where sales clerks' hauteur melts at the flash of cash. While few budgets can afford a trinket from Tiffany, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, or Harry Winston, glittery Rodeo Drive is incomparable for window shopping and people-watching. For a wider array of more-affordable retail, visit South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa on your LA vacation.
Big winners and big spenders mingle on vacation in Las Vegas. The Fashion Show Mall, a cornucopeia of retail conveniently located in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip, offers the largest selection. It has 250 stores and restaurants. A good portion of the retail is high-end; Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Nevada's only Nordstrom store are located here.
Another shopping destination not to be missed is the recently expanded Caesars Forum Shops (pictured), which recreate Rome as it never was.
While tourists flock to Fifth Avenue and its commercial landmarks such as Tiffany & Co. and Saks are certainly must-sees true shopping aficionados on vacation head straight for Madison Avenue, from 57th Street up to 72nd. Here the world's best designers, including Armani, Dior, Donna Karan, Etro, Prada, Ralph Lauren, and others display their wares in exquisite boutiques. Don't have all day to shop? The Barneys flagship is located on East 61st.
Every designer mentioned above has an outlet store in Woodbury Common, which is one hour north of New York City. This mega outlet mall goes way beyond the usual suspects to feature brands not normally found at discount: Tse cashmeres, Judith Leiber bags, Donald J Pliner shoes, Eileen Fisher apparel, and yes, even Prada (hint: it's located with Miu-Miu inside a store named Space). Neiman-Marcus Last Call and Saks Off Fifth are worthy anchors.
If you believe bigger is better, you'll appreciate 350-store Sawgrass Mall. One drawback for serious shoppers on vacation is that it attracts lots of families with strollers and young kids to navigate around. The newly opened and more upscale Colonnade Outlets at Sawgrass features upscale brands including Ferragamo, David Yurman, and Burberry at discount. But for true shopping splendor, nothing beats Worth Avenue in Palm Beach.
There are no temperature-controlled, indoor malls for the hardy New England shoppers of Newbury Street. And there aren't many bargains to be found, either. But quality hounds on vacation appreciate this elegant throwback. The street retains its carriage-trade aura and features many jewelers, silversmiths, antiquaires, and Boston originals including the always-dapper Louis, Boston.
Grand-daddy of USA mega-malls, the 520-store Mall of America was showing its age the last time I visited. Its Chapel of Love outside Bloomingdale's offers a way to get married without taking valuable time away from the serious business of shopping on vacation. With attractions that include Underwater Adventures Aquarium, LEGO Imagination Center, Dinosaur Walk Museum, Flight Simulation, and NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedway, this mall attracts many, many families with kids.
The Tysons Corner retail megalopolis off I-495 consists of multiple shopping centers. These include the 125-store Galleria that boasts its own Ritz-Carlton Hotel, the 230-store Tysons Corner Center, and Fairfax Square. Just about 15 minutes from Washington, DC, Tysons Corner is a destination that serious shoppers on vacation can get happily lost in for days.
This gracefully curving street is a fine place to wander and window shop on vacation but do it early in the day, as Charleston weather can get steamy. There's a Saks Fifth Avenue on the corner, a Starbucks, Abercrombie & Fitch, and numerous antiques stores. When it gets too hot, duck into the air-conditioned Shops at Charleston Place Hotel, where conservative dressers outfit themselves with duds from the likes of Lacoste, St. John, and Talbots.
Although The Galleria in Houston is that city's no. 1 tourist vacation destination and the fourth-largest mall in America, San Antonio's Shops at La Cantera is a hipper, open-air marketplace. Its merchants include Nordstrom, Sephora, Abercrombie & Fitch, BCBG/Max Azria, Juicy Couture, Betsey Johnson, and many more well-known brands.