Look at Where You Are
Take advantage of the area around you.
Perusing racks and rows for the perfect souvenir or gift may be the point of your trip. To go above and beyond in your travels, be sure your group takes time to look at what surrounds them.
Tanger Outlets in Sevierville, Tennessee, offers prime shopping at stores such as Alex and Ani, Vera Bradley and the Disney Outlet—within a stone's throw of serious country music fun. The hometown of internationally known country music legend Dolly Parton, Sevierville is near all of Parton's attractions in Pigeon Forge, including Dollywood theme park, Dolly Parton's Stampede dinner attraction and Dolly's Splash Country waterpark. Don't forget to visit Anakeesta in Gatlinburg to ride the scenic Chondola, race on the Dueling Ziplines, or simply relax and enjoy the views!
Just seven miles from downtown Nashville, Opry Mills has plenty of retail options for groups of all kinds and recently welcomed must-do experiences such as Amber Falls Winery & Cellars tastings and The Escape Game. Within walking distance are The Grand Ole Opry and Gaylord Opryland Resort, offering groups beautiful garden views and boat rides. Don't forget to dine with the fish at the truly unique Aquarium Restaurant.
Arkansas' only outlet shopping center, The Outlets of Little Rock boasts more than 65 stores for groups to explore—along with an array of life-sized games scattered throughout the concourse. Among Little Rock's bustling arts scene, Robinson Center offers Broadway shows, performances from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and more. Groups could rent bikes on the Riverfront Park and view the over 725 animals that call the Little Rock Zoo home. To view one of the largest archival collections in American presidential history, visit the Clinton Presidential Center.
The Mall at Millenia in Orlando has higher-end offerings groups will love, including Chanel, Gucci, Hermès and more. Serious fun awaits nearby at Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World, while airboat rides and real wild animal encounters abound with Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures.
Midwest and Northern Exposure
Having undergone a year-long renovation, Gurnee Millsrecently welcomed four new retailers to its roster, among them Dick’s Sporting Goods and The Room Place. Nearby, groups can get major thrills at Six Flags Great America and a behind-the-scenes tour at The Tempel Lipizzans—a local farm showcasing the beauty of the Lipizzan horse breed. Head an hour south for hit Broadway musicals Falsettos and Hamilton, then continue the experience with Hamilton: The Exhibition—the first run of this new immersive exhibit.
Boasting over 520 stores, Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, is the nation's largest mall. From fashion and food to tech and toys, they've got it. Once you've had your shopping fix, place a winning bet on your favorite horse at Canterbury Park Racetrack, catch a show at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, and take an in-depth tour of Prince's Paisley Park estate and production complex—previously closed to the public.
Toronto's Eaton Centre has something for everyone—from Aritzia, Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, Nike and Lacoste to seven dine-in restaurants. From there, check out a production of Come From Away at the Elgin Theatre and Dear Evan Hansen at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, and see intriguing exhibits at Ontario Science Centre and Aga Khan Museum. Don't forget to hang from the side of the CN Tower and learn about hockey greats at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Shop, Stop and Go West
Adventure is Denver's middle name and Cherry Creek is no exception! With options like Apple, Louis Vuitton, The North Face and more, groups will always leave with something they love. The nearby Denver Botanic Gardens—one of the top five in the nation—are an oasis not to be missed, while Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum offers a look at Wartime aircraft, World War II uniforms and aviation art. Enjoy nature on a drive through Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.
Pioneer Place in Portland, Oregon, provides groups with a diverse scope of retailers and offers a chance to catch the latest cinematic masterpieces in its movie theater! Once you've finished your popcorn, head to Portland Art Museum to admire the collection of more than 42,000 objects that reflect the history of art, from ancient times to the present. Don't forget to snag a fun and funky treat from nearby Voodoo Doughnut.
Camarillo Premium Outlets, just north of Los Angeles and south of Santa Barbara, is certainly not short on options for the savvy shopper—from Brooks Brothers and Kate Spade to Lululemon and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH. Camarillo-born Institution Ale Company is the perfect post-shopping way to kick back, with a tasting room, game area and fire pits. Thrill-seeking groups could skydive and hit up Waypoint Café for a giant cinnamon roll—without ever leaving the Camarillo airport.
On the Horizon ...
With a projected spring opening, New Jersey's American Dream will house approximately 3 million square feet of shopping, entertainment, dining options and attractions. Situated five miles from Times Square, groups are super close to the action: They can check out compelling exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art, brush shoulders with their favorite celebrity at Madame Tussaud's and get unreal views of the city at the Empire State Building Observatory.
Coming in September 2019, Fashion District Philadelphia will be the largest premier shopping destination in downtown Philadelphia and offer groups the opportunity to shop at H&M, Levi's, Columbia and more. Nearby, groups could get a bird's-eye view of Philly from One Liberty Observation Deck before soaking up intriguing artifacts and other works at Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer. This article originally appeared in Groups Today.
Photo courtesy of Portland Art Museum.