Chicago's poshest fashionistas were beside themselves with glee when Burberry unveiled its flagship store on the Magnificent Mile last fall. No other famed shopping district--from central London to New York's Fifth Avenue--could boast such a structure that demanded attention from every awestruck passerby that happened upon it.
Burberry's distinct signature pattern on the towering building's exterior is one of the Mag Mile's latest attractions--not that the area needed more publicity to draw shoppers. Its luxury lineup features the likes of Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Neiman Marcus, Ralph Lauren and Saks Fifth Avenue, so there's a steady stream of foot traffic on the strip.
Chicago visitors are so enamored by the big names (and the possibility of running into someone famous at these stores) that they typically don't check out other neighborhoods to shop. That's too bad because they're missing out on some real gems in areas like the Southport Corridor, a trendy sub-section carved out of the Lakeview neighborhood.
A good friend who lives on the strip once quipped, "The stroller set moms rule the Southport Corridor," which is why the area's offbeat collection of boutiques and shops cater to women, children and cuddly pets. Fashionable, one-of-a-kind items abound at independently owned stores like Pish Posh Kids, Perchance and Krista K.--where star actress Jennifer Aniston occasionally shops when she's in town.
A number of nationally known boutique chains such as Athletica, Anthropologie and Lululemon get plenty of action as well. They, in fact, spearhead many of the clearance sales happening throughout the year.
Some additional key details about the Southport Corridor:
It's only about a 15-minute drive (30 minutes by public transportation) from downtown.
There's also relatively easy parking unless there's a Cubs game, and the pace is laid-back and friendly.
With the number of family-friendly restaurants as well as neighborhood taverns situated among the clusters of shops, the area should rank high as a place to plan a memorable day trip.
Passionate about shopping? What's that one item you're willing to travel all over town to find?
Photo courtesy of Krista K.