“ Outlet shopping mall close to downtown Las Vegas „
On my first visit to Las Vegas in 1999 outlet shopping was still pretty basic in the city. You could either visit Belz, a small mall located just south of McCarran Airport or you could drive the 40 miles or so to the state line with California and go to Primm. I couldn't drive at the time and didn't fancy getting up at stupid o'clock for the coach which seemed to call at every hotel on the Strip before heading down the I15 for Primm.
I learned to drive not long after that first visit and drove to Primm seemingly on every trip we made to Vegas up until 2007 when we realised that it had been superseded by the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North and many of the stores we had headed to Primm to visit had relocated there.
The Las Vegas Premium Outlets North opened around ten years ago or so now. I can't remember exactly when but certainly it was there when I got married in Vegas in 2004. Over time it has expanded and evolved and certainly on my last visit in 2011 it's got almost every brand you would want to shop at - and even better offering prices which are akin to sales all year round.
The Premium Outlets North are located on the northern end of the Strip, close to Downtown. The name of the street they are located on is Grand Central Parkway and there is an exit from the I15 freeway which is clearly signposted. This makes it only a short drive - traffic permitting - from the Strip if you use the freeway.
From Downtown the easiest way to go is to drive down Main Street towards Bonneville Avenue - turn on to Bonneville heading west and you won't be able to miss it.
Buses run from the Strip too or if you are feeling brave you could take a CAT service bus which is an experience. I haven't taken the bus for a while but they do run from the new Bonneville Transit Center which has replaced the much scarier Downtown Transportation Center that I used to use. Taking a bus in Vegas isn't like taking one this side of the pond however - you'll be doing well to find a bus that runs more frequently than every 20 minutes.
Check the CAT website and the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North websites for more information.
This being Vegas the opening hours are long. The centre opens at 10.00 am every morning and is open until 9pm every day except Sunday, when it closes at 8pm. The hours do vary on holidays so it's worth checking the website if you are visiting during a holiday period.
The shopping centre has 150 stores. It used to be the car park was located on the outside on one level but as this outlet mall has grown some of this space has been used to build more retail units. As a result the parking is now all in multi storey garages. The garages can all be accessed by lift and stair and there are plenty of disabled parking bays on the ground level.
This outlet mall isn't covered and I have to say I can't understand why, in a city like Vegas where temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius are commonplace, they did this. There are canopies to protect you from the sun but on a hot day you can only escape the heat by continually going in and out of the air conditioned shops or by popping in to the food court.
I always try to go here early in the morning. I do this for two reasons - it's easy to get parked then and it's cooler too. This is a shopping location that's very popular with both tourists and locals so it can get very busy too so if you prefer to avoid crowds my advice is to get here early.
The centre is, as stated, all outside and there's not a huge amount of protection from the elements. It is designed in such a way that there are some bigger stores at either end of what is like two "streets" of stores running parallel to one another. In the middle of these streets is a square which has a huge canopy and the food court is located here. This means you can cut from one "street" to another without having to walk all the way to the end of one to turn around and access the other.
There's another area towards the back of the outlet mall which is the more recent addition and replaces the old parking lot.
The biggest stores here are Brooks Brothers and Nike but there are no obvious anchor stores here. The largest shops tend to be at the end of each "street" and in the areas surrounding them. There are no department stores here and the main items being sold tend to be clothing and footwear.
My favourite stores when I visit the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North are Banana Republic and Gap. I am a sucker for both chains and they always seem to have a sale on of some sort so even if there's new season stock in much of it will have 30% off the advertised price. Not everything is cheap as chips here so you do have to rummage but if there's a clearance on you can pick up tees for $2.99 plus tax or sweaters for $9.99.
Whenever I came here with my husband he would spend at least an hour trawling the Timberland store. I've never really got the appeal of the place myself but if you love the clothes and shoes they sell you will understand why he was so happy to spend so long here. The Timberland store is very large and airy, and whilst menswear is what dominates there's womens and childrens' items too.
If designer clothing is more your thing there are some options here including Dolce & Gabbana, Armani Exchange and Burberry. There's also a Polo Ralph Lauren store, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger outlets. If you want young fashion I'd recommend you check out Juicy Couture or American Apparel.
I always enjoy browsing the Coach store when I come here and if you visit here when the sale has begun expect to have to queue to just get in! The store is particularly popular with Chinese tourists and last time I visited the queue to pay was huge as a huge number of Chinese people had just descended on the shop before me! Coach sell quality leather goods including handbags, purses and wallets and while the quality isn't quite as good as it was when it was still made in New York City, it's still worth paying $150 for a bag here. The outlet prices are at least 50% less than those in regular Coach stores and at sale times you can pick up a bag for under $100.
Another higher end leather goods store worth checking out is Dooney & Bourke. The bags here have more fashion touches I find than those sold in Coach, and there tends to be a wider selection of colours to choose from too. If you want a classic bag that won't date any time soon then Coach is a better option but if you want a bag that has the wow factor and won't be the same as anything your friends have you may prefer Dooney & Bourke. Prices tend to be comparable to Coach too.
If you want to buy a leather jacket the Wilson Leather store is worth a look. I've bought several jackets from this store over the years both for myself and my daughter. There are constant sales on here but my best bargain was a suede pink jacket for my daughter which cost $19.99 plus tax. This came in at less than £15! The store sells bags and purses here which are noticeably cheaper than Coach or Dooney & Bourke.
There's a good selection if kidswear on sale here and while my daughter is too big for it now, I have been delighted with purchases from the Gymboree outlet and Osh Kosh B'Gosh. Both stores seem to have permanent sales on so you should be able to snaffle a bargain for your baby or small child. If you want something more formal then I would recommend you check out the Strasburg Children outlet which sells some incredible dresses for girls and suits for boys - perfect for a wedding or other special occasion.
Footwear is always worth checking out here and I always visit the Crocs outlet as both myself and my daughter love to wear Crocs. The smell of Crocs hits you when you enter and the store offers a mix of old stock which is dirt cheap and new stock which isn't. It's still cheaper than buying them in the UK however and I have got Crocs for my daughter here for $20. The Hush Puppies store is worth a look - especially if you like Merrell footwear - but the Clarks Bostonian store isn't worth the bother as it's far more expensive than the prices you would pay in the UK.
Fashion footwear is well represented with brands such as Sketchers, Converse and Vans. Sadly there is no Ugg outlet here but you can buy Uggs at the Robert Wayne Footwear store. Just be careful you are 100% certain you are happy with what you buy as they have a really tight refund policy here. I saw a woman have a stand up row over a pair of shoes she wanted to return but the refund policy is posted by the tills and it goes without saying I read it very carefully before buying my daughter some Uggs in this store.
There are stacks of other stores in the mall including a Bose store - which is worth checking out to see if you can get a deal on some noise cancelling headphones, L'Occitane, a Samsonite outlet which I highly recommend if you need a new suitcase to take your shopping home, two perfume outlets, Swarovski and a Lancome outlet.
My advice is to pick up a leaflet at the signs offering directions which are dotted around the outlet and plan where you want to go from there. The leaflet also includes a map which is an essential as you can get lost here - well I have got lost here before anyway!
There's no fine dining here - there's an open food court which has several options including a Great Steak and Potato Company which does lovely Philly cheese steak sandwiches, Subway and an Italian Express. For healthier options there's sushi and noodles available but by and large the food court offers fast food served up on disposable tableware.
There's a Dairy Queen which is an essential on a hot day for ice cream or a drink too.
I rarely bother to eat here because there are better options elsewhere in Vegas - certainly some of the casinos offer far better food for the same price but if you want to rest your weary legs, this is the place to come to. There are toilets here too.
I love the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North and over the years have picked up many bargains here. I do tend to avoid Vegas in high summer but I do think the biggest downfall of the shopping centre is the fact it's outdoors so while it does look quite nice from a distance, on a hot day it's insufferable.
As a result the centre loses a star and I also find parking can be tricky if you go in the afternoon. When I was last in Vegas in April this year I went around 2.00 pm and struggled to find anywhere to park so heaven knows what it's like at Christmas or when the major sales are on. I've never gone in the evening but you do get a great view of the lights at Downtown Las Vegas here and can see the Strip in the distance so it would be nice to incorporate that in to an evening shopping trip and work on the basis that the tourists have all gone back to their casinos for some gambling!
Sales tax in Las Vegas is 7.75% so remember that will be added on to the price shown on items in the stores. If you are travelling to other parts of the US it's worth checking out their tax rate and some states, such as Massachussets - don't charge sales tax on clothing at all.
It probably is best to come here in a car but public transport isn't impossible and there are taxis to be found here too.
If you can fit in some shopping in amongst exploring the other delights Las Vegas has to offer I would highly recommend the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North.