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Local Shopping Districts

When you’re planning to include an afternoon of shopping on a trip, you want to give your travelers something they can’t get at home. But it can be difficult to identify a distinctive shopping destination from far away.

Locals often tout their downtown shopping areas; but how many really evoke a sense of place and give your group the opportunity to buy one-of-a-kind items?

We’ve scouted out five locations across the country where you can give your group a shopping experience they won’t soon forget. Immerse yourself in the goods of 400 local artists in Eureka Springs, Arkansas; pick up unusual upcycled antiques in Stillwater, Oklahoma; or commission your own custom electric bicycle in Ithaca, New York.


Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Winding up and down the slopes of the Ozark Mountains, Eureka Springs’ location alone is a draw for visitors, and when it was founded in 1879, it quickly became a popular Victorian summer resort town.  Although today, the entire city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architecture, which has earned it the nickname “Little Switzerland,” insiders know it best for its shopping.

“We have a population of 2,000, and of that, we have about 400 artists,” said Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission executive director Mike Maloney. “We have a really high artist-to-person ratio that amounts to a tremendous amount of fine art, jewelry, fiber arts, woodworking and a little bit of everything.”

Eureka Springs has so many fiber artists that the two most prominent — world-renowned master weaver Eleanor Lux, who incorporates beads and fibers into sculpted works of art, and Little Bo Peep, a yarn store with its own weaving studio with classes and custom looms — are but a small sample of the town’s offerings.

“We don’t have any big-box retailers,” said Maloney. “It’s all merchants and galleries. And there are so many, especially on Center and Spring streets, that groups can literally shop until they drop and stop to refill in any of the at least eight restaurants downtown large enough to hold a group.”

Downtown is easy to navigate on foot, and there are several ideal locations for motorcoach drop-off around town.

Gabi Logan

Gabi Logan is a freelance travel journalist whose work has also appeared in USA TODAY, The Dallas Morning News and Italy Magazine. As she travels more than 100,000 miles each year, she aims to discover the unexpected wonder in every destination.