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Shopping in Chicago

Whatever your pleasure, be it discounts and designers, antiques, art or the kitschy, it is available in the Second City.

Key areas

The best souvenir selection is at Accent Chicago, 875 North Michigan, or City of Chicago Store at the Chicago Waterworks Visitors Center, 163 East Pearson, and Tastes of Chicago, (tel: 1 800 568 8643) will ship authentic Chicago food like hot dogs, pizza and Eli's cheesecake anywhere in the USA.

Many antique shops and dealers are located in the Lake View, Lincoln Square, Ravenswood and Edgewater areas.

 

For music, search the back walls of the legendary Rolling Stones, 7300 Irving Park Road, for the best deals, Jazz Record Mart, 27 East Illinois Avenue, for jazz, Reckless Records, 3161 North Broadway, 26 East Madison or 1532 North Milwaukee Avenue for alternative, new and used sounds, and 2nd Hand Tunes, 800 Dempster, Evanston, for used records.

Markets

Between May and October, over 70 markets are held regularly throughout the city in different neighbourhoods, including Lincoln Park, Hyde Park, Bridgeport and Northcenter. Weekly night markets have also started at Logan Square and Argyle and Broadway between June and September between 4pm and 9pm. For a schedule of dates for the different markets, see www.cityofchicago.org/city.

Shopping centres

Find interesting architecture and a huge merchandise selection at Macy's (formerly Marshall Field's, the original store) on State Street. But no visit would be complete without a shopping trip on the Magnificent Mile (North Michigan Avenue). The street, crowded with upscale malls (Water Tower Place, 900 North Michigan Avenue, The Shops at North Bridge), fashionable boutiques and big name stores such as Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Nordstroms, is also a people-watching paradise.

For bargains, shop Filene's Basement, 1 North State or 830 Michigan, Mark Shale Outlet, 2593 Elston, or the Gap outlet, 2778 North Milwaukee, for clothes, Jewelers Row, 5 South Wabash, for discounted baubles and Crate and Barrel Outlet, 850 West North Avenue, for housewares.

Opening hours

Except for special sales or the holiday season, malls and regular stores hours are usually Mon-Sat 1000-2100 and Sun 1100-1800. North Side neighbourhood stores that cater to young people often open later. Chicago sales taxes are 10.25%, aside from food (2%) and pharmaceuticals (0%).

Souvenirs

Look out for Wrigley Field and other sports-related memorabilia and Al Capone themed souvenirs, particularly clothes and sportswear. Music CDs, such as jazz and blues, are also popular. As for food, pick up some Italian Beef, deep dish/stuffed pizza, Garret's Popcorn and Chicago-style hot dogs.

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Featured Hotels

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Hotel Felix

One of the best deals in the central area of Chicago, the Felix is a modern hotel with an environmentally friendly rating and lashings of style. Plush rooms are kitted out in shades of cocoa and offer flat-screen TVs, contemporary bathrooms, and handy desk space. Unwind at the hotel's spa, or work out in their state-of-the-art gym. Service is brisk and efficient.

Wheeler Mansion

This 130-year-old mansion is an elegant, 11-room boutique hotel that offers a nice alternative to the big bustling hotels. Its lovely garden area, polished woodwork and special mattresses with goose feather duvets radiate warmth and comfort. Attention to detail is revealed in the property's original artwork and furnishings.

The Fairmont Chicago

This 37-floor, Rosetta-pink granite structure, which overlooks both Grant Park and Lake Michigan, has a spacious lobby that mixes contemporary furnishings with antiques and original art. Guests can relax after a busy day with a choice of candles, scents and bubbles in their drawn bath. The large and comfortably furnished rooms include premium mattresses, dressing areas, marble baths and built-in bars. Its chic Aria restaurant features a wide selection of wines and an interesting selection of regional American cuisines and its lounge has become a unique sushi bar.

The Drake

In a landmark building on the Magnificent Mile and across from Oak Street Beach, this Chicago original opened in 1920 and has been the premier place to stay ever since. The spacious guestrooms combine elegance with all the expected modern touches, from flat-screen HDTVs to iPod adapters. Some have views of the city skyline or Lake Michigan.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago

The Ritz has always been a symbol of luxury and the Ritz-Carlton Chicago is no exception. An award-winning dining room, oversized rooms with a view, L'Occitane bath toiletries, state-of-the-art business facilities and 24-hour concierge service are some of the reasons its reputation is deserved.

Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

At the Four Seasons, personal service, attention to detail and elegant appointments are basics. The opulent seventh-floor lobby has a French art deco look, while spacious guest rooms include 1940s French décor and, for viewing stunning city and lake vistas, some have leather window seats. Marble bathrooms are spa-like.