Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
concrete. Window-shoppers and people-watchers also will find plenty to amuse
themselves. This is the city's liveliest corridor: The sidewalks are packed in the
summer and on weekends with hordes of shoppers strolling up and down the
avenue and pausing to enjoy the many street performers who enliven this strip.
Holidays on Michigan Avenue are a magical time, as the city knocks itself out
with lights and music and a spectacular Christmas tree in the John Hancock
Center plaza.
But don't think you're seeing everything by walking down the street. Michi-
gan Avenue is home to several indoor, high-rise malls, where plenty more bou-
tiques and restaurants are tucked away. The face of one of Chicago's most
prestigious addresses has been dramatically transformed over the past quarter-
century since the first mall—Water Tower Place—went up on the north end of
the street. Several more malls and large-scale, hotel-retail projects have followed.
As the rush for square footage escalated beginning in the late 1980s, many city
residents lamented the metamorphosis of the street from a rather intimate and
graceful promenade of 1920s buildings to a glitzy canyon of retail theater. Eager
to get in on the action, national and international retailers—from middle-brow
discounters to high-brow couture purveyors—have continued to look for front-
row locations to squeeze into.
For the ultimate Mag Mile shopping adventure, start at one end of North Michi-
gan Avenue and try to work your way to the other. In this section are listed some
of the best-known kid-related shops on the avenue and on nearby side streets.
North Michigan Avenue is lined with shops and includes four of the aforemen-
tioned vertical malls—each a major shopping destination in its own right. These
indoor malls offer shopping on multiple levels.
WATER TOWER PLACE Chicago's first—and still busiest—vertical mall is
Water Tower Place, a block-size, marble-sheathed building at 835 N. Michigan
Ave. ( & 312/440-3165;, between East Pearson
and East Chestnut streets. The mall's seven floors contain about 100 stores that
reportedly account for roughly half of all the retail trade transacted along the
Magnificent Mile. The mall also houses a dozen different cafes and restaurants.
Water Tower was the first big indoor mall to open downtown (in 1975), and
20 years ago its glass elevators and shiny gold trim gave the place a glamorous air.
These days, after some recent renovations, the spiffed-up mall remains popular, but
doesn't have much to distinguish it from any other upscale shopping center. Water
Tower is a magnet for suburban teenagers (just like your mall back home!) and can
get quite crowded during the summer tourist season. Most of its stores are part of
national chains (Gap, Victoria's Secret, and the like). But there are a few shops that
make it worth a stop, including hip young designs from the British store and
young teen magnet French Connection (fifth floor; & 312/932-9460 ) and wear-
able women's clothing at Eileen Fisher (second floor; & 312/943-9190 ). The
department stores anchoring the mall include the Mag Mile outpost of the Loop's
famed Marshall Field's (floors one to eight; & 312/335-7700; p. 228) and a Lord
& Taylor (floors one to seven; & 312/787-7400; p. 228). One of the mall's best
features is the innovative foodlife food court, which contains more than a dozen
stations, from burgers and pizza to Mexican and Moroccan, plus the Mity Nice
Grill ( & 312/335-4745 ), a faux-1940s diner. Two movie complexes contain eight
screens. Of note to kids are Accent Chicago ( & 312/944-1354 ) for T-shirts, pizza
pans, logo sports gear, and other souvenirs that say “Chicago”; Number One Blue
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