Top Shopping Destinations

While you would not necessarily choose a vacation destination solely for its shopping, it’s good to know if you have world-class shopping wherever you are headed. Here are some favorite spots around the globe where you won’t want to miss out on the special stores, boutiques, and unique items:

New York, New York

It’s no surprise that New York City tops the list of the world’s best shopping. From Fifth Avenue to the funky shops in Soho, and the indie designers in the East and West Villages, Brooklyn, and beyond, you could easily spend your entire vacation pounding the pavement in search of treasures. Add to this that New York City has an astounding number of ethnicities settled in its environs, and you have access to one-of-a-kind items gathered from all over the world. Chinatown, anyone? Hop on a subway system that takes you speedily around town and through the boroughs. Don’t be afraid to venture off the big island of Manhattan to the more ethnic neighborhoods, particularly Queen’s Jackson Heights, often referred to as the New Dehli of New York with its proliferation of sari, silk, and jewelry stores and the best Indian food in the city.

Mexico

Mexico is one of the great all-around travel and shopping bargains these days. The American dollar goes far here, and nowhere is that more evident than in the shopping. Mexico is a country of riotous color and it seems that everyone is a natural-born artist. From textiles and pottery to jewelry and clothing, you’ll find the distinctive stamp of Mexico’s brilliant hues and designs. The prices are unbelievable (think hand-woven, multi-colored, king-size cotton bedspreads for the equivalent of about $60) and the craftsmanship is distinct. You really can’t go wrong wherever you travel in Mexico, and it’s the perfect country to combine a beachy vacation with shopping. Your main challenge will be in figuring out how to get all the extra loot back. We recommend taking a foldable duffle bag in your suitcase.   

Paris, France

Paris is a city of fashionable women and stunning boutiques, and every arrondissement, or district, has its own fabulous French flavor. From the swanky right bank to the artsy left bank and more, every street, or rue, is a new adventure in shops that will have you pulling out your plastic again and again. Some of the most prestigious fashion stores in the world make their home here: Chanel, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, to name a few that can be found in the 8th arrondissement. Head over to the 3rd arrondissement for more offbeat and indie fashions. And just strolling the day away, taking in the innate style of the city is inspiring in and of itself.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is hands-down one of the most charming cities on the planet, with its central plaza, and adobe-style village nestled at the foot of a gorgeous Southwestern mountain basin. As a crossroads of Hispanic and Native American traditions, food, and culture, Santa Fe is the perfect breeding ground for artisan crafts of the finest kind. The delightful blend of galleries, museums, and shops add up to endless opportunities for buying artwork, western-style garb and handcrafted pottery, rugs, and jewelry (particularly turquoise and silver). Clear weather and low humidity prevail, making it perfect for shopping, and if you arrive in the spring, the whole terracotta city is blanketed with the scent of sweet lilacs.  

Milan and Florence, Italy

As home base to top fashion houses--Prada and Dolce & Gabbana, for starters--and fashion week, Milan is a city born to shop. LIke Paris, the inhabitants of Milan take their fashion seriously, and just people-watching is an education in personal style. If you are in the mood for spending, take in the toney shops of Via Monte Napoleone and Via della Spiga, pausing for respite at one of the many designer hotels. Turn away from the main thoroughfares to discover treasures off the beaten path as well.

In contrast to the slick high fashion of MIlan, Florence is a historic blend of art and craft. From the market stalls to custom boutiques, this is where you go to discover the items that you can’t find anywhere else. This is a city resplendent in her beauty, and no matter how humble the shop, you can be sure that you will discover something you simply must have in your home or closet. Don’t be afraid to bargain at the market stores, but don’t be surprised if you are rebuffed and sent packing, either. The merchants of Florence have a strong sense of the value of their goods and won’t be talked down easily. Whatever the price you pay, you can be sure that you will never forget what you bought in this art-inspired city.

For more information on where to shop on your travels, visit the Smart Voyager web site.