The Mall of America takes destination shopping to a whole other level. Welcoming a whopping 40 million to 50 million visitors a year, it stretches over 96 acres and has 520 stores and 50 restaurants. Four of 10 visitors are tourists, many of whom fly in to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and hit the ground shopping: Complimentary shuttles deliver you from the airport to the mall in minutes. And many Twin Cities hotels offer free shuttle service as well. Need further incentive to shop? You'll pay no sales tax on clothing and shoes. The Mall of America also has attractions for non-shoppers, including the world's largest collections of jellyfish at the SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium and Nick characters at the Nickelodeon Universe theme park. For even more shopping, check out the charming boutiques along Grand Avenue in St. Paul.
5. New Orleans
It may lack the wall-to-wall malls of other top shopping cities, but New Orleans offers colorful, quirky shops selling treasures you won't find anywhere else. Searching for the perfect voodoo gris-gris bag to bring you good luck? Stop in at Voodoo Authentica on Dumaine Street — and maybe get a little spiritual counseling on the side. Craving Creole pralines? Head to Leah's Candy Kitchen on St. Louis Street for some pecan brittle. Having a Blanche Dubois moment? Hove Parfumeur, the city's oldest perfumery, transports you back to the days of silk handkerchiefs and lacy fans with its handcrafted scents and lotions. And it's easy to get your fill of Big Easy foodstuffs and music at the riverfront French Market and the Louisiana Music Factory at 210 Decatur St. In the luxury Canal Place mall near the river on Canal Street, visit the boutique of the city's iconic jewelry designer, Mignon Faget. This living-history city also offers atmospheric antiques shops along Royal Street in the French Quarter and on Magazine Street in the Garden District.
Also of interest: Great U.S. destinations for 2012.