The 10 Best Shopping Cities in the U.S.
These destinations are bursting with luxury designer shops, independent boutiques, and vintage hidden gems.
Aside from sightseeing and sampling local cuisine, shopping is without a doubt one of the major highlights of traveling. Not only is it part of the experience to scope out local goods, but it's also a great way to pick up souvenirs to remind you of your trip—as well as for loved ones back home, of course.
But not all cities are created equal in this regard—some stand out either due to their diversity of stores, an impressive selection of high-end designers, or array of unique boutiques.
According to Julia Peoples, founder and CEO of the blog RV Junket, finding the best destinations for shopping all comes down to your budget, style, and preferences. While some cities may specialize in featuring luxury designer goods, others may be teeming with funky thrift shops and antique stores.
With that in mind, here are some cities that are more than suitable for shopping 'till you drop.
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The Best Cities to Shop in the U.S.
1. San Francisco, California
Whether you're looking for brand names or one-of-a-kind finds, travel experts agree that The Golden City is a shopper's paradise.
Whereas Union Square is known for having well-known chains and department stores, Peoples says you'll also find plenty of vintage shops in the Mission and Haight-Ashbury districts.
Martin Betch, co-founder at Hivan, recommends strolling around the renowned Fillmore Street, with its laidback vibe and many independent shops featuring everything from clothing and home goods to antiques.
Looking for a bargain? Mercedes Zach, travel expert at ASAP Tickets, recommends checking out the hundreds of shops in San Fran's Chinatown.
2. Seattle, Washington
With a bevy of malls, boutiques, outlets, and antique stores, Seattle has it all.
"The city has a healthy mix of old and new, budget and high-end, and everything in between," says Jim Campbell, founder and CEO of Honeymoon Goals. "You can be shopping in Gucci for one minute then make your way to a local, family-run store to find some amazing bargains."
Check out the latest looks at the flagship Nordstrom store, explore the hip indie shops along Ballard Avenue NW, and pick up some locally made artisan souvenirs at Pike Place Market. Last but certainly not least, be sure to peruse the discounted designer goods at the Centralia Outlets, Seattle Premium Outlets, and North Bend Premium Outlets.
3. Charleston, South Carolina
This charming Southern port city doesn't just boast a rich history, outstanding restaurants, and pastel houses—its shopping scene is also highly underrated.
"Whether you're looking for everyday items, luxury pieces, or souvenirs, you can find it there," says Jason Dempsey, CEO and co-founder of Home & City Living. "Your best bet is to start on King Street, then head to the Charleston City market or the open-air malls."
You could spend a whole day of shopping on King Street alone—and thankfully, the pedestrian-friendly sidewalks make it easy to explore. Whereas Upper King is known for having some of the best home furnishing and interior decor stores in the country, Middle King is known as the fashion district, and Lower King is loaded with antique shops featuring items from every decade imaginable.
Mount Pleasant Towne Centre has a plethora of familiar chain stores. If you're looking for one-of-a-kind handmade goods from local vendors, though, the City Market is your best bet. The Shops at Belmond is home to iconic designers and brands, and the outdoor Tanger Outlets shopping center features more than 100 different name-brand stores with incredible bargains.
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4. Las Vegas, Nevada
While Sin City may be known more for its over-the-top resorts, casinos, and restaurants, it also happens to offer some top-notch shopping.
"Many of the casinos and resorts in the heart of the strip have malls with a number of luxury brands, from Harry Winston to Chanel," says Jessica Schmit, founder of Uprooted Traveler. "Their intricate and often edgy window displays are perfect for aspirational window shopping."
The Miracle Mile Shops in the heart of the strip include a whopping 200 retailers, while the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace feature roughly 160 luxury designers like Balenciaga and Jimmy Choo, as well as fast-fashion brands. Downtown Container Park is a family-friendly open-air shopping center chock full of locally owned boutiques shops, and the Las Vegas Premium Outlets houses 175 designer stores offering jaw-dropping savings at such brands as Prada, Adidas, Michael Kors, and Versace, to name a few.
5. Los Angeles, California
"Los Angeles is home to some of the best shopping malls in the country, like the Beverly Center and the Fashion District," says James Brad from Travare. "But LA is also home to many unique and independent shops, like Fred Segal and American Rag. You can find just about anything in LA, whether you're looking for designer clothes, vintage finds, or just some great deals."
According to Elaine Warren, founder and CEO of The Family Cruise Companion, a visit to LA isn't complete without scoping out the famous Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. This two-mile-long shopping destination features endless luxury retailers like Chanel, Prada, and Jimmy Choo. For a more affordable shopping experience, swing by the Citadel Outlets. Or, if it's funky, vintage finds you're after, you can't beat the shops on Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
Last but certainly not least, the Grove is a one-stop outdoor shopping destination with clothes, accessories, and cosmetics alike. You may even spot a celeb or two while you're browsing there.
6. Chicago, Illinois
"Chicago is home to some of the best department stores like Nordstrom and Bloomingdales—but you can also find many unique boutiques," says Brad. "The city's Magnificent Mile is one of the most popular shopping districts in the country, and it's home to many high-end retailers. But if you're looking for something a little more budget-friendly, check out the city's many outlet malls."
According to Betch, Michigan Avenue features nearly 500 shops spanning 13 blocks, so it's safe to say you'll find whatever you're looking for there.
But if not, you can also pick up some original art in Chicago's gallery district in the River North neighborhood; scour the trendy boutiques and vintage shops in the Lakeview/Roscoe Village, Wicker Park, and Bucktown; and marvel at the Oak Street international couture houses.
7. New York, New York
No roundup of shopping destinations would be complete without a mention of New York.
"One great thing about shopping in New York City is the sheer variety of stores and products that are available," says Kyle Keersemaker, travel blogger at Exploringo. "Whether you're in the market for fashionable clothing, eclectic home decor, or just about anything else, you'll be able to find it there."
While this fashion hub is home to some of the most iconic department stores and luxury designer shops in the world, Brad says you certainly don't have to spend a fortune to find something worth taking home.
"If you're more of a thrift lover, head to the East Village to get your hands on the most valuable vintage finds," adds Anthony Radchenko, travel expert and co-founder at Air Advisor. "The Brooklyn Flea is also one of the world's biggest flea markets, featuring everything from clothes to furniture and books."
Zach says her favorite NYC neighborhood for shopping is Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
"Over a decade ago, an influx of all kinds of artists made the Williamsburg neighborhood trendy," she explains. "There are lovely little vintage shops, and it offers options and experiences for any budget."
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8. Portland, Oregon
From department stores and specialty shops to local-specific brands, Portland has it all—and the best part? There's no sales tax.
"That means you'll pay less for the same item in Oregon than you would in, say, California, where the sales tax is 7.25 percent," explains Schmit. "This can make a big difference in overall purchase price, especially when it comes to big-ticket items.
According to Schmit, the Pearl District is known for its independent boutiques. "You'll always find a unique and well-curated mix of inventory, especially when it comes to home decor, clothing, accessories, and gifts," she adds.
Sammie Pearsall, a travel blogger at The Rambling Renegade, notes that the Pearl District is also home to First Thursday, where local galleries keep their doors open after dark to showcase their work.
"Shoppers love spending their days on the cobblestone streets and taking time to appreciate the local artisans," she says.
Experts say there's a little something for everyone here. Pioneer Place features a wide range of major designers from Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. to Yves-Saint Laurent and Tory Burch, while Nob Hill is home to a ton of whimsical boutiques and 811 Burnside is brimming with vintage threads.
9. Houston, Texas
They say everything is bigger in Texas—and that certainly applies to the shopping in Houston, AKA the fashion capital of the South.
"The 2.4 million-square-foot Galleria, which is Texas's largest shopping center, houses several hundred brands," says Zach. "If you're looking to have a shopping spree, this is a must-visit location."
The Galleria's selection rivals that of Rodeo Drive—with big names like Versace ad Gucci. But if you're on the hunt for more unique items, head to hipster neighborhoods like Montrose and The Heights, which are loaded with thrift and vintage stores as well as independently owned boutiques.
Just a quick drive from the Galleria is Highland Village, a palm tree-lined outdoor shopping center with complimentary valet service and tons of well-known high-end shops. Another open-air retail haven lies in Uptown Park, which boasts both contemporary designer collections and artisan makers—and often hosts fun trunk shows and other events.
10. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Millions of people flock to Minneapolis each year just for the shopping, and it's easy to see why. This city is home to The Mall of America—the largest mall in the entire country.
"This world-renowned shopping destination with over 520 stores," says Anna Krizova, a travel enthusiast with Camino Adventures.
Best of all, there's no sales tax on clothing here—so you can save big time while shopping your heart out.
While the mall mostly features name brands and designers, you can also find ample edgy independent boutiques in Uptown Minneapolis—especially Calhoun Square—high-quality handmade goods from all around the world at Midtown Global Market, and unique antiques and homewares in Linden Hills.