(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

While shopping at Water Tower and the Magnificent Mile is a huge perk of living in the downtown Chicago area, those familiar with outlet shopping know that the best perk involves a discounted price on a favorite brand. Within an hour’s drive from the city, there are five different outlet malls to choose from. Each venue has its own specialty, with varying brands and outlet stores. Whether you’re looking for home accents on a budget or a designer dress you never thought you could afford, outlet malls offer huge discounts that can make a believer out of even the biggest skeptic.
 
Chicago Premium Outlets
1650 Premium Outlets Blvd.
Aurora, IL 60502
(630) 585-2200
www.premiumoutlets.com
 
Located under an hour’s drive from Chicago, Chicago Premium Outlets hosts an impressive 120 different outlet stores. While there is a large selection of premium brand stores like Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger, there are also favorites like the Gap and Dressbarn. Don’t let the name discourage you from thinking you’ll find something for everyone in the family. With 11 children’s stores to choose from, you can find everything from Nautica Kids to OshKosh B’gosh. Expect savings between 25 to 65 percent off on all of the top brand names.
Gurnee Mills Outlet Mall
6170 W. Grand Ave.
Gurnee, IL 60031
(847) 263-7500
www.simon.com/mall/gurnee-mills
 
Approximately 45 minutes from the city, there are over 200 outlet stores to choose from. Unlike some outlet malls that can seem a bit sterile, Gurnee Mills Outlet Mall is more of a one-stop spot that’s fun for the whole family. With a Rainforest Cafe and a reptile zoo, the kids won’t seem to mind spending the day shopping. There is more than just discounted apparel, with reduced prices on fragrances at Perfumania and jewelry discounts at premium stores like Fossil and Zales.
Huntley Outlet Center
11800 Factory Shops Blvd.
Huntley, IL 60142
(847) 669-9100
www.premiumoutlets.com
 
Approximately an hour from the city, Huntley Outlet Center has 50 outlet stores. There are premium apparel brands like Ann Taylor, but there are also specialty stores for home decor and beauty products. A great outlet center for gift giving; there are books, toys and designer fragrances with a significant discount on the retail price. Make sure to check out the Baby Gap and Carter’s for the adorable baby outfits you love, with pricetags that won’t break the bank.
 
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Fashion Outlets of Chicago
5220 Fashion Outlets Way
Rosemont, IL 60018
(847) 928-7500
www.fashionoutletsofchicago.com

Newly opened in August of 2014, Fashion Outlets of Chicago has taken discount shopping to a new level with its extra large venue and designer name brands. With premium brands like Burberry and Prada, this venue features deals on products that simply aren’t available at other outlet malls. The ultra convenient Rosemont location can be accessed easily through public transportation, and there are even guest services available inside for those traveling by air. Take advantage of the pre-flight services like printed boarding passes and luggage check-in so you can spend more time shopping and less time travel planning.
Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets
11211 120th Ave.
Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158
(262) 857-2101
www.premiumoutlets.com

While technically located in Wisconsin, Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets is between Chicago and Milwaukee, within an hour’s drive from the city. There are the usual outlet stores like J. Crew and Guess, but there are also specialty finds like Ugg Australia and White House Black Market. For those looking for sportswear, there is a large selection of sports items and apparel. While there is always a discounted price on products from 25 to 65 percent off, there are additional sales and events that feature an even further discounted price. Sign up for the free online VIP Shopper Club to be informed of all of the upcoming deals for a future shopping trip.
 
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Sara Lugardo is a professional writer out of Chicago, Illinois. She has a Bachelor’s in Communication and is currently working on her Master’s. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.