Sometimes, you just need a good, old-fashioned shopping spree. But what do you do if your local mall just can't deliver? Head to an outlet center.
They've cropped up around the country, and you can score some amazing finds at great prices. We've pulled together some information on top outlet centers, including where to stay, where to eat and what to do in addition to shopping, shopping, shopping.
These "wonderful shops that fit nicely with the town of Freeport" are very popular with TripAdvisor travelers. Many higher-end mall brands, such as J. Crew, Coach and Banana Republic, are represented here. But the one store that's a must-see is the L.L. Bean flagship store. As one reviewer put it, the store "itself is worth the trip, it takes hours to see everything they offer." And it's "open 24 hours-365 days a year," which means night owls can shop into the wee hours.
"When we are here, we are SO relaxed and pampered, I wish my doctor could measure my blood pressure!" one happy guest wrote of the Harraseeket Inn. It's walking distance to L.L. Bean, and rates include a full breakfast and afternoon tea.
"Best clam chowder ever!" one TripAdvisor reviewer of Azure Café wrote in Freeport. While it's a small place, many reviewers claim it has a great wine list. But if you're in the mood for something stronger, another traveler said, "Try the Maine blueberry martini!"
You'll find a variety of outdoor adventures here, from archery to kayaking to skeet shooting. TripAdvisor travelers love these well-organized classes, which draw "both genders and all age groups (20-somethings to septuagenarians)," according to one reviewer. "L.L. Bean is a class act," another reviewer wrote. He had forgotten to bring a jacket, but the school had "an assortment of fleece jackets and windbreakers we could borrow."
"Factory outlet shopping doesn't get much better than this!" one TripAdvisor traveler wrote. A mix of high-end designer brands (Bottega Veneta, Versace, etc.) with mall brands makes this a great shopping destination for travelers with different tastes. And it's huge, several travelers recommended allotting plenty of time and being prepared for plenty of walking. It's well worth the 20- 30-minute drive from Palm Springs.
"The grounds are beautiful with lots of hummingbirds, flora and amazing view of the mountains from the poolside," one happy TripAdvisor traveler wrote. Another reviewer said there were, "Too many bonus items to mention," but that list includes complimentary bike rentals, bottled water and soda, a snack basket in your room, etc. Many reviewers concur with the traveler who wrote that the owners are "so welcoming and wonderful."
"The food is spectacular. All of our appetizers, entrees and desserts were superlative in nature-beautifully presented, fresh and tasty," one TripAdvisor traveler who dined at Le Vallauris wrote. Another says, "be sure to request patio seating for dinner - it is quite charming," and a third reminds you, "the soufflés are to die for - save room!"
TripAdvisor travelers say a trip to the top of San Jacinto Mountain is "an experience not to be missed," and "one of the best adventures Palm Springs has to offer!" You can hike up or take the aerial tramway. But heed the words of this reviewer: "The top of the tramway can be 20-30 degrees cooler than the base area, so be prepared."
For anyone who would rather pick up a Burberry trench on sale than visit Orlando's theme parks, Orlando Premium Outlets -- Vineland Drive is a great place to spend the day. There's even a Disney outlet, which, according to one TripAdvisor traveler, "is the store you need when buying Disney World gifts to take back home."
It's a relatively new hotel, but the Drury Inn and Suites Orlando is already drawing rave reviews from TripAdvisor travelers. It offers "clean rooms with very comfortable beds, and a perfect location for all of the Orlando attractions," according to one reviewer. The "Kick Back," an extensive late-afternoon buffet, is included with your room rate and is popular with travelers.
It is notoriously difficult to get a reservation at this restaurant. You'll have to call several months in advance. But if you get one, you'll have a great motivation to shop for a fabulous outfit at the outlets. "It is not just a meal but a dining experience," one TripAdvisor reviewer wrote. But it's not cheap. As another reviewer wrote, "If you actually tell anyone that you spent that much for a dinner, they will say you are crazy, [but] it's an experience you must have!"
Attraction: You're in Orlando. You probably don't need our help here.
Travelers from overseas plan entire vacations around visiting this huge outlet center. More than 200 stores, many of which are designer brands (e.g., Gucci), make this perfect for fashionistas on a budget. It's also about an hour from New York City, with easy access via bus.
TripAdvisor travelers love this friendly B&B. As one traveler wrote, "Each room has a mini iPad programmed with all the local area attractions (wineries, shopping, dining, hiking...)." Another wrote, "They accommodated every request and desire we had, starting with extra mattress and blankets, to extra incredibly delicious homemade scones and our vegetarian needs."
Great pizza makes this place a popular post-shopping stop for TripAdvisor travelers. One wrote, "Unlike the usual pizza you get in the USA, this one is very similar to what you see in Europe, thin (and very delicious) crust, smaller size and a very nice sauce as well." Several travelers ate multiple meals there in one trip, always a good sign.
"Friendly and educational!" wrote one TripAdvisor reviewer who visited Palaia Vineyards Winery. The wines are great, they often have live music, and as another traveler noted, "They also made mead [aka honey wine], which you don't see every day."
The Las Vegas Premium Outlets are for serious shoppers. "I saw a lot of people with just empty suitcases filling them up with deals!" one TripAdvisor reviewer wrote. It's just a 10-15 minute cab ride from hotels on the Strip, and features many top designers like Michael Kors and Dolce & Gabbana.
You've saved a bundle at the outlets, so why not splurge on a fantastic room at the highly rated Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas? It's "just steps from the Strip and yet it feels like a million miles away," one TripAdvisor traveler wrote. Even the standard rooms are, in the words of another, "still incredible." "Makes a non-Vegas person want to visit Vegas," yet another reviewer wrote.
"DOESN'T GET BETTER THAN THIS!!" wrote one happy diner who visited Roy's Las Vegas. Friendly service, perfectly prepared seafood and a highly recommended pineapple upside down cake make this a big hit with TripAdvisor travelers.
Operate real construction equipment, like bulldozers and excavators, at Dig This. "We have been telling everyone they need to play in the big sandbox with the adult size Tonka toys when they visit Vegas," one TripAdvisor reviewer wrote. Another traveler wrote, "To be able to play around in these massive machines as if they were toys is just the best fun."