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- Yes, You Can Have an Affordable, Family-Friendly Vacation in NYC
- Go for a College Football Bowl Game, Stay to Explore the City
- A CityPASS guide to the best holiday happenings
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Most Underrated Shopping Cities
As you read this online, you’re probably aware of the fact that most anything can be done on the Internet...even holiday shopping. Sure, it’s convenient. But there is something about the holiday season that makes the physical experience of walking into a store so much better than any overly stuffed online shopping cart. We are drawn to the festive décor, the lively energy that hums throughout the streets, and being able to physically hold and observe a gift before making the decision to purchase it.
Of course, the big cities for holiday shopping—New York, Chicago, San Francisco—are always in the limelight come the holiday season. But because of their popularity, the experience of making your way through the eager shopping crowds might be a bit overwhelming.
Luckily, there are other cities in the United States that provide an excellent shopping experience around the holiday season, and most are quite underrated. The cozy buildings unleash traditional holiday warmth that cannot be found anywhere else. The most underrated cities for shopping are full of holiday cheer, and they’re waiting just for you.
Come experience Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Seattle for the most spirited holiday shopping experience you’ll ever have. With a CityPASS to any of these treasure cities, you’ll see the holidays in a whole new light. Trust us, those warm fuzzy feelings are much more difficult to get from the Internet.
Shopping in Atlanta
Atlanta’s quintessential Southern hospitality makes for a warm and welcoming holiday shopping experience where you’ll truly feel like a local. With artistic talent sprouting from every corner, one-of-a-kind gifts are a-plenty. These quality, handcrafted products cannot be found in at any regular store. Check out all Atlanta has to offer for the holiday shopping season:
The name of the store couldn’t be more spot-on for the kind of unique gifts you’ll find inside. Everything is made within 25 miles of Atlanta’s center, and when you see it all, you’ll really get a sense for the artistry that seeps from the heart of this cultivated city.
Give a child a traditional gift with a modern spin—a rocking horse is a classic, but a rocking dinosaur will rock their world! And let’s not forget about the adults, either. Beautifully designed jewelry, scrumptious sweets, and all-natural bath soaps are only some of the amazing gifts offered at Atlanta MADE. When you pair those gifts up with truly original, hand-stamped wrapping paper, you’ve got yourself a holiday shopping trip that you can’t find anywhere else.
Unique Holiday Shopping
Aside from the quirky Atlanta MADE store, there are plenty of local markets and exhibitions that crop up throughout the year—especially around the holiday season. The A also has an abundance of things to do in the fall and winter seasons, thanks to its more favorable weather.
The Spruill Center for the Arts Gallery is located in a historic home from the late 19th century, and its timeless architecture complements the artisan crafts within. Every year from November 13 through December 23, the Spruill Center for the Arts holds an annual Holiday Gallery Artists Market where unique crafts and décor are showcased. Over 90 artists will reveal their work during the market. For a quieter shopping escape that still radiates the holiday spirit, the Spruill Center for the Arts is a great place to shop.
Boston is another wonderful city full of life. Even in the fall and winter seasons there is so much to do. With deep roots in liberty comes the freedom of choice. During the holiday season, Boston offers many choices. Whether you’re looking for the quirky and unique or the big brand commodities, you’ll find it all in Boston.
Browse the Antiques
Everyone has that one person in their family who will shun the gift card and the readily available new releases. They want something from the heart, something truly picked out for them, something unique, and something that speaks to the soul.
At Beacon Hill’s 30-40 antique shops, you can find something special for that special someone. Even if you don’t walk away with the perfect gift, the experience of strolling through the picturesque neighborhood is a wonderful gift in and of itself. The charm of the red bricks is only accentuated by holiday décor, and an evening saunter through Beacon Hill will leave you with a glow that not even the brightest string of holiday lights can emanate.
High-End Holiday Shopping
At Boston’s Prudential Center, you can get a fashionable dress at Saks Fifth Avenue or create your own belt at the Build a Belt kiosk. The Prudential Center is a great option for those who aren’t quite sure what they’re looking for but will know it when they see it. If you have a day to spare, spend time exploring the shops and the kiosks. Both offer a great selection, and the Prudential Center is a great place to get some ideas if you’re not ready for the full-on holiday shopping experience.
Holiday Shopping in Philadelphia
If you’re in Philly for the holidays, you’re in luck. There are more than enough ways to enjoy your holiday both in-store and out, making Philadelphia a truly underrated shopping city. With some of the best holiday shopping around the nation and even more holiday cheer, you’re bound to leave Philly with more than just a great gift.
Historic Wanamaker Building
The Macy’s located in downtown Philly is recognized as a National Historic Landmark, and for good reason! With more than 100 years under its belt, the Wanamaker building is a timeless retail space that continues to attract visitors year after year.
From the day after Thanksgiving through the end of the year, the Christmas Light Show creates fantastical holiday images with more than 100,000 LED lights. Snowflakes and reindeer parade the velvet curtain four stories high while you shop. The lightshows happen every two hours from 10am-8pm, and if you happen to make it to the noon show, you’ll get to hear the beautiful music play from the Wanamaker Grand Organ during the finale.
In between your shopping, visit the 3rd floor and see Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol come to life with 100+ animated figures. A truly festive experience, Macy’s Center City holiday decor will surely lift your spirits.
Holiday Shopping Pop-Up Village
Philadelphia sure loves the holidays – so much so that LOVE Park is completely transformed into a festive European village! Delicious food, unique gifts, and memorable entertainment are what make the Christmas Village one of the top things to do in Philadelphia this holiday season. The outdoor market features more than 60 vendors from all over the world—no two gifts are alike. The twinkling lights, crisp weather, and sweet hot chocolates will make you wonder whether you’re still in Philly or have been transported to Santa’s village! Admission is free, so even if you’re not there to shop, there’s no reason to skip such a festive experience.
Shopping in Seattle for the Holidays
‘Tis the season for jolly good times and Christmas spirit! In Seattle, the holiday cheer is taken to a whole other level: the grand festivals remind you that the holiday season truly is the greatest time of the year. In downtown Seattle, merriment and fun are expected— it’s very unlikely your inner Grinch will come out while you’re having such a great time.
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow
Well, the weather outside just might be frightful, but that’s not going to stop you from your holiday shopping, now is it? Sure, the snow is beautiful, but too much of it can make a pretty snowfall turn into a shiver-inducing blizzard.
At Pacific Place, you can enjoy a delightful flurry while you explore the shops. Starting on November 28, you can stand in the atrium and watch as a magical snow falls from the sky. See a free performance from 12-2pm or 5-7pm on the weekends and enjoy the winter wonderland while you listen to some great holiday jazz. Explore fashion outlets, jewelry shops and gadget stores to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones.
Magic in the Market
Let’s face it—Pike Place Market is already magical. Throw in a rosy-cheeked Santa Claus and a plethora of twinkling lights and you’ve got yourself a Christmas paradise. On Saturday, November 28, you can decorate gingerbread cookies, drink rich hot chocolate and spiced tea, take a photo with your favorite Claus, and watch as the 20-foot holiday tree lights up for the first time. A performance by the Figgy Pudding Caroling Team makes your shopping fun even more festive. Pike Place Market is the perfect place to find some locally crafted gifts that only a Seattleite could create.
If you do decide to do some online holiday shopping this season, CityPASS is the perfect place to start. With CityPASS booklets starting at $44, you can give the gift of travel to North America’s top cities at an affordable price. Your loved ones will be singing your praises long after the New Year.