The Magnificent Mile or “Mag Mile” in Chicago is one of the most premier shopping districts you can find. We lived in Chicago for 3 years and lived right off The Mag Mile in the Lakeshore East neighborhood right behind the famous bean. We either walked, jogged, or drove everyday in this fabulous district. Needless to say, we are completely spoiled by the variety of shopping you can do here.
Now as visitors from out of state, it’s even better! We can partake in some excellent shopping benefits exclusive to tourists. Coming from Minneapolis, we’re only an hour flight away. We took Memorial Weekend’19 to do some serious shopping, dining, and taking advantage of the extra holiday discounts.
Here are some insider tips on how to smart shop as a visitor in Chicago to leverage your time and money year around.
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Beat The Taxes
Shopping in Chicago will cost you 10.25% in taxes, ouch! Definitely hurts if you’re a resident. If your state tax is lower, you can have department stores like Bloomingdales, Nordstroms, and Macy’s mail your items straight to your door for free and get your State’s tax rate. In our case, Minnesota has 0% sales tax on ALL shoes and clothes including bougie designer brands like Gucci and Chanel. If you don’t need your items during your stay, it’s a great way to save some money. Average delivery is within 3-5 days and no packing needed for the return flight. When we shop in Chicago, we save hundreds on taxes!
Not only do we like to save in dollars, we value our time too. Which is why location is so important. We like to stay at places where we can easily access all the good stuff within walking a few blocks.
Save Time and Money at The Four Seasons Chicago
If you plan to do some serious shopping, hands down The Four Seasons (FS) Chicago is the perfect option to save you time and money. Their location and accommodations are ideal for shoppers. The hotel is on top of a mall and an elevator ride away from your room. The 900 North Michigan Shops is the premier mall in downtown Chicago. You can literally find almost anything in this one building. From hotel, boutique shops, department store, salons, spas, fitness center, and good eats- it’s a shopper’s dream.
But first, lets talk about how to get a good deal at the Four Seasons Chicago.
They always have specials for longer stays of more than 2 nights. You can get every third night free for every 2 consecutive nights stay. If you stay a week, that’s 2 nights free! The value here is hard to beat with the location and services they offer.
We totally take advantage of this offer and usually stay in the Lakeview King Room for 3 nights. It’s approximately 400 sqft with great views. Downtown Chicago hotels average cost $250 per night plus tax for a standard room with mediocre amenities. For roughly $50 more a night, you can stay at The Four Seasons with their “Stay Longer- 3rd night free” offer. The standard rate of $420 plus tax at the FS Chicago is reasonable for the kind of luxury they offer. With the deal though, we ended up paying about $300 a night plus tax, a great bargain for what you get. Every room is between the 32nd-46th floor, providing excellent views. The deal applies to Suites too if you need more room or have a family.
If you enjoy workouts on a trip like we do, FS always have nice gyms and spas you can access at any time. They come with conveniences so you don’t need to bring anything but yourself and card key to the gym. It has great tech equipment, disposable headphones for treads & bikes, towels, infused water or bottled, locker rooms, pool and spa.
Four Seasons is really known for their top notch services for any family. We don’t have children but if you have kids, they have a play room on the 32nd floor.
You can call for the ice cream cart with an array of toppings to be rolled into your room for a custom made sundae for your family. Ice cream is house made!
For adults, there is a mobile mixologist that can come to your room to mix up any cocktail you’d like. We don’t drink alcohol but they do mix up Zero proof drinks too.
Take advantage of this amazing offer to stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. Book Here!
Exclusive Shopping Discounts
In addition to the extended stay room discounts, you can save more money with their partnerships at the 900 North Michigan Shops. A biggie is with Bloomingdale’s. You can visit their Visitor’s Center on the 3rd Floor, show them your room key and driver’s license as proof of non-resident, and they’ll give you a 15% Off All Day Pass. Mine worked all weekend long without having to get a new one each day.
It was a fantastic 15% ADDITIONAL SAVINGS for visitors on top of the Memorial Weekend Sale they already had going on. Many of the new season brand name clothes were 40% off and sale items were up to 70% off, then you add your additional visitor’s pass of 15% on top of it! I bought a $500 designer dress for just shy of $100.
And then remember if you have a lower sales tax from your state, you can mail the items to your house and save on taxes! For us coming from Minnesota, we have 0% sales tax on all clothes and shoes. So altogether we saved 40%- regular sale + 15% visitor pass discount + 10.25% sales tax = at least 65% on all the designer clothes and shoes we bought that weekend. At retail value of $7k plus tax, we spent almost $3K tax free and free shipping to our door, yay!
The Four Seasons Chicago has a booklet of partnership discounts they provide in every room. The booklet provides offers and gifts at the many stores in the 900 North Michigan Shops. A few include Karen Millen clothing store has 20% off regular priced items; Montblanc has free engravings with jewelry purchase; Sur La Table offers vary by season, Teusher Chocolates of Switzerland has free chocolate samples and purchase discounts.
Gifts with Purchase
Because of our dollar spend at this mall, we received gifts from both the 900 Mall and Bloomingdales. Just show your reciepts to each Visitor’s Desk.
The gift this time from the 900 North Michigan Shops Mall was Lavender Bath Salts. Minimum spend is $200 from any shop.
For Visitors only, Bloomingdales Chicago offers gifts with purchase. Minimum spend is $500 at Bloomingdales. The gifts were tiered depending on how much you spend. I didn’t like the cafe gift certificates I qualified for at the highest level so I asked for several of the gifts in the $500 category. They have an array of travel related gifts that I really liked and they were happy to oblige. I was surprised with the good quality of each gift. Because we travel a lot I picked the garment bag, duffle bag, travel kit with blanket and pillow, shoe bag, and TSA approved bottled kit bag. They even had an umbrella if I was interested.
Don’t forget to get your gifts of purchase at the Bloomingdales Visitor Center on Level 3. It’s best to get them here rather than the Gift Wrap counter because they have all the options available on Level 3. The Gift Wrap counter didn’t have all the gifts and certificates available nor did the reps knew how it worked fully. The reps on Level 3 are trained and have all the gifts you could qualify for.
The location and shops at The Four Seasons Chicago will save you so much time. You can have access to almost everything without leaving the building. Find Bloomingdales, boutique shops, salons, spas, gyms, eats, and even Topgolf all under 1 roof.
It’s also convenient to be able to drop off your bags in your room instead of lugging it around for blocks.
I forgot my hair brush and was able to quickly buy one at Mario Trioci Salon and Spa on the lower level. If I need to get my hair, nails, or skin done for a special occasion, there are 3 spas available in this building alone.
Grab some good eats while taking a shopping break at the food court called Aster Hall on the 5th floor. They have a delicious selection of local favorites to choose from. From street tacos to sushi, bread-bowl chowder to vegan bowls, coffee to cocktails, and more.
The Four Seasons is conveniently located in the heart of the shopping district. Just across the street, you have the iconic John Hancock building where you can find Best Buy, Starbucks, and The Cheesecake Factory.
The Mag Mile has a beautiful mix of historic and modern buildings. If you like Macy’s and the more nationalized brands, it’s in the Water Tower building a mere block away.
Within a few blocks is Rush Street and Oak Street where you can find all the premium designers. If you like to window shop, Chicago is a beautiful place to do so.
Lake Shore Drive is nearby where you can take a jog or a break from the hustle and bustle of the Mag Mile.
Navy Pier is nearby too.
If you just walk South from Four Seasons, you will eventually hit the Bean and outdoor Amphitheater.
If you shopped till you dropped like we did, you get hungry! Here are a few of many amazing places to eat in Chicago.
RPM Steak (Smart Casual, Trendy)
This is the best steakhouse in Chicago. We know because we’ve tried them all. This place is consistently good. Get the King Crab Leg, any steak cut you like (filet mignon for me), and the Cookies and Cream for dessert or Baked Alaska.
Le Colonial Restaurant (Smart Casual)
A local favorite, this French Vietnamese fusion is full of fresh ingredients and flavors. For upscale Euro-Asian fare, this is a must. Try the chicken or beef raviolis, or both like we did. The Filet Mignon steak cubes on bed of greens is always great and the Miso Salmon with Lobster Coconut sauce is incredible. By no means do you want to miss the egg rolls. The best ever.
Jojo’s Milk Bar (Casual)
This place has unbelievable milkshakes. All original and made from scratch, even the toppings. It’s a hip diner and bar where you can eat a full meal if you want. We only came here for the shakes. It’s pricey at $14 a pop and that’s without the the spirits. Feel the vibes with diggity throwback music and movies.
Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop (Quick Snack)
Just a block away from the Four Seasons, you can find our favorite ice cream shop, Ghirardelli. We’ve been to other locations including the original San Francisco shop, but for some reason this one is the best. They still serve everything in a glass if you dine in. They’re always busy too. Get any of their sundaes. Our fave is the Treasure Island which is a brownie hot fudge sundae. We also tried the Presidio Sundae this time too that tastes like chocolate covered strawberries.
Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders (Casual)
If you can make it out to Lincoln Park, a wonderful Chicago neighborhood about 15 minutes from downtown, you’ll have the best pizza ever. This place has been featured on several food channels for their pizza pot pie. Get the pizza and house salad. Mix the 2 dressings it comes with together, it’s OMG delicious.
- If your State’s sales tax is less than Chicago’s 10.25%, you can pay your State’s sales tax rate on your purchased items if the merchant can ship them to your house for free. Most major department stores have this service. MN has 0% sales tax on ALL shoes and clothes.
- Shop major holidays for biggest Sales like Memorial Day, Labor Day, Independence Day, Black Friday, etc.
- Memorial Weekend has great sales on hotel stays and shopping, low traffic, and nice weather.
- Black Friday has the worst traffic on The Mag Mile and attracts the most aggressive shopping crowd of the year. Be careful.
- Ask your hotel for a list of partnership shops they may have for additional discounts. Four Seasons offers 15% to Bloomingdales and many others. Park Hyatt offers 10% to Bloomingdales.
- Stay at a convenient location to save time, money, and transportation. For best shopping, stay on North Michigan Ave in the Gold Coast.
- Low season to visit Chicago at best prices is in the Winter time to May.
- Look for extended stay discounts with Hotels. Four Seasons has “Stay 2 nights get 3rd night free” practically year around. Book Here!
- Spend $200 at the 900 North Michigan Mall and get a free gift at Visitor Desk.
- Spend $500+ at Bloomingdales Chicago and get gifts according to your dollar spend.
- Check with Chicago Visitor Center for discounts on main attractions and shopping.
- Check with Hot Tix for half price theatre tickets.
- Get Chicago City Pass to save 50% on Premium Admission to the Top 5 Chicago attractions.