Magnificent Mile

Magnificent Mile - River North showing signage and heritage architecture
Shopaholics need look no further this glittering street packed with boutique and luxury shops, famous department stores and cafes.

The Magnificent Mile is the most famous place to go shopping in Chicago. The mile-long strip on Michigan Avenue runs between Oak Street and Michigan Avenue Bridge in Downtown. High-rise buildings on either side of the street hold offices, restaurants, hotels and hundreds of shops. Mingle with crowds of tourists and locals at any time of the day and year, who come to browse, catch-up over a meal and people-watch. It doesn’t matter if you come prepared to spend some serious cash, or just to window-shop and take home a souvenir. You’ll find it all here: clothes, jewelry, books, furniture and food for every budget. 

The strip got its nickname in the 1940s, thanks to the exclusive commercial and residential dwellings that cemented it as a retail hub after the Great Depression. You can still see two of the historic buildings that survived the Great Fire of 1871: the Pumping Station and Water Tower. The Water Tower is now an upscale mall. Water Tower Place has a huge atrium, dozens of shops and a sizeable food court. 

The Chicago Tribune Tower and Wrigley Building were both built here in the 1920s and stand out from the modern skyscrapers. Look up to see the ornate carvings at the top of the towers that give them their distinct style.

Stroll the strip by foot to get a feel for what’s there. Big name luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel have boutiques alongside affordable department stores such as H&M. There are five national department stores, and they have fabulous window displays, especially during the winter holiday season. There’s something for everyone along this vibrant strip, including candy stores and toy shops for the kids.

Foodies have plenty of options, as there are dozens of fine dining restaurants along the strip that cater to lunchtime business crowds and shoppers. There are numerous fast-food and café options, too. For a treat, check out the Cape Cod Room at the famous Drake Hotel, where locals and tourists have been coming since 1933 for fresh seafood. The Drake is just one of more than 50 hotels on the Magnificent Mile strip.

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