Since the Friday after Thanksgiving ( aka "Black Friday") is often the biggest shopping day of the year for many retail stores, you can assume that the most famous shopping area in Chicago, The Magnificent Mile, will be booming on that day!
You probably won't need a banner on a street light telling you that you have reached The Magnificent Mile, but it is reassuring for first-time visitors to learn that they have reached the appropriate section of the glass, steel, and concrete canyon, that carries that name.
It seems that a business located on The Magnificent Mile carries extra clout, and you can earn an "honorary" Magnificent Mile address similar to the way a famous person earns an "honorary" degree from a university!
The AAA guidebook says that even if you hate shopping, and only set foot in a store when absolutely necessary, you owe it to yourself to stroll along the famous section of Michigan Avenue. There are numerous blue-shirted city information specialists who like nothing better than to answer your questions about downtown Chicago.
The Old Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station are best known for being among the lucky few structures to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The castle-like structure, with its 154 foot tower, is a great symbol of Chicago. There is a small park next to the old tower where you can take a break, people watch, and catch a carriage ride around the downtown area.
The stunning architecture of famous buildings like the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower, both located on Michigan Avenue at the bridge over the Chicago River, can be the landmark you use for the start of your "urban hike".
You will come across the classy store of Tiffany and Company (bring your own breakfast, however, as biscuits and gravy are not a part of their merchandise!)
There are various museums in the area, and I have found that the gift shops of museums often have beautiful, hand-crafted items not found in the large department stores.
Since I am a popcorn lover, I was probably more excited about finding the store location of Chicago's famous "Garrett" Popcorn Store, than I was a Saks Fifth Avenue!
Crate and Barret has their flagship store along the Magnificent Mile, and it is a multilevel shopping complex with everything one needs for furnishing the places where you live and work. Also, since they specialize in all things related to cooking, there are frequent culinary demonstrations going on in their store.
A store that fascinated me was the All Saints Spitafield's Department Store. Since I have my grandmother's old treadle sewing machine in my living room at home, I was blown away by their display of hundreds of antique sewing machines lining their entry wall! I found out that the company was only started in the 1990's, and is a British fashion retailer that also has stores in certain large U.S. cities, such as Chicago.
I have had the opportunity to tour the Hershey's complex in Hershey, Pennsylvania, so I was eager to see what their Chicago store would be like.
Just like the factory tour that kids can take in Hershey, Pennsylvania, kids can also "manufacture" a bucket of chocolates in the Chicago store.
One way the Bloomingdale's Home Store gets you to visit their store, even though it is a few blocks off of the Magnificent Mile, is to see the way that the historic building that used to be a Shriner's Temple, has been converted into retail space.
It also helps that you will pass two Chicago landmark restaurants, Pizzeria Uno, as well as Pizzeria Due.
I like visiting grocery stores in big cities, so I was glad to see there was a Trader Joe's near the Bloomingdale's Home Store. One of the culinary demonstrations I attended in Chicago had used an ingredient I was unfamiliar with---creme fraiche---so I wanted to see what it looked like on the grocery shelf.
The malls in downtown Chicago go vertical instead of horizontal, and I was intrigued by the artsy way the decorators have filled these spaces with unusual art pieces, such as this one at The Shops at Northbridge.
There is a candy store in the North Bridge complex that has made decorating with candy into a true art form!
Seeing these candy-coated shoes, brought to my mind the Romans 10:15 verse that says "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news." If your feet are eager to stroll the streets of Chicago during this holiday season, just log on to www.TheMagnificentMile.com to start planning your expedition. Whether you are buying, or just "window-shopping", this area will give you MILES OF MAGNIFICENT SMILES! Tricia