Chicago: Department Store Shopping on the Magnificent Mile

Chicago is very well known for its Magnificent Mile, and well it should be. Where else can you cover such ground in such a short distance?

Department Stores
Just about every well-known name is represented on Michigan Avenue. Starting at the South end is the relatively new Nordstrom Mall with a nice Nordstrom store as anchor. This is not as large or as glamorous as some in the chain but it does have a fine selection. Their customer service is second to none. Last year my girlfriend, and fellow Ya-Ya, bought me a beautiful nightie and robe as my Christmas gift and somehow managed to misplace it before returning to the hotel. She went back and tried to see if she had left it there in the store and they ended up ordering her a new set and only charging her for postage! Now that is world-class service. Of course maybe they checked to see how much she spends in their store and figured she was worth it, ha, ha!

As you move North along the avenue you come to Chicago Place which contains the Saks Fifth Avenue womens store. The mens store is across the street and down the block. The stores that are in malls are kind of nice because we go in the first week of December for Holiday shopping so being able to get inside out of the cold and hit a lot of stores at once is as Martha would say, a good thing.

Across the street and down another block on the east side of Michigan Avenue is Neiman-Marcus. They have the most incredible cosmetics department I have ever encountered. They have lines I have never heard of and the more expensive ones that the normal chains do not carry as well as all the well-known brands. My daughter has a girlfriend that works there and she is a floor salesperson. Rather than working for an individual cosmetics line, she actually works for Neiman-Marcus. When you work with Reena she can sell from any counter so you feel like you are getting the best recommendation, not just what a particular line has to offer. The cosmetics person at the counter where she leads you still helps out with specialized knowledge of that brand. Lets face it one size does not fit all and as we age, there are certain products that suit us best that come from a variety of manufacturers. She also throws in a lot of samples. I try and save up my cosmetic buying needs for this trip so I can work with Reena. She also can gather information on you and let you know when there is a sale and ship items to you.

As you continue north a couple of blocks you come to the famed Watertower Place. This mall contains two departments stores, Lord & Taylor and Marshall-Fields, soon to be Macys much to the chagrin of almost everyone. This is a smaller Marshall-Fields and in my opinion cannot hold a candle to the main store in the Loop. The flagship store contains the famous Walnut Room where people line up for hours to have lunch in a room with a massive multi-story Christmas tree.

Lord & Taylor is nice, if not a little crowded. Most of the other stores are less cluttered with merchandise spread out a little more. Some of this depends on your taste. I am not fond of the stores that have narrow aisles and a crowded feel. But they usually have very good sales during the Holidays.

The final department store on the Mile is Bloomingdales. For this you need to go one more block and cross the street back to the west side to the 900 North building. My favorite part of the Bloomingdale store is the shoe department. Most women love shoes, but this shoe department is exceptional. It is located on the first floor and back to the right when you enter from Michigan Avenue.

There are some good Chicago shopping websites that also might help when trying to decide the best hotel location for shopping but one of the best is this map that details where each store is located.
( I wrote a recent blog on where to stay so you might want to check that out as well (

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