Best Places for Window Shopping

Visit these streets in California, Oregon, and Utah to enjoy a rich shopping experience—even if you don't buy anything.

Girl tries on sunglasses at Purple Moon Boutique on North Hemlock Street in Cannon Beach, Ore., image

A patron tries on sunglasses at Purple Moon Boutique on North Hemlock Street in Cannon Beach, Ore.

California

Fourth Street Berkeley, Calif. “You’ll find doggy boutiques and modern design outlets and makeup shops where you can personalize a fragrance,” says Melody Esquer Gil of San Pablo, Calif. “Best, though, are the stationery stores, especially the Japanese paper shop, with its beautiful prints, cards, and origami supplies.” fourthstreetshop.com.

Pollasky Avenue Old Town, Clovis, Calif. “Perfect for an afternoon stroll,” says Carrie Padgett of Madera, Calif. “It’s full of collectible and antique stores, a quilters’ shop, gift shops, and restaurants. Every year it’s the site of a great family Halloween event.” (559) 298-5774, oldtownclovis.org.

Santana Row San Jose. “Classy stores, a chic crowd, and foot-tapping music,” says Nikhila Yadunath of Sunnyvale, Calif. “What else? Apparel, bags, sunglasses, dinnerware, books, perfumes, luggage, pasta, ales, wine tastes, electric-powered sports cars—what can’t you find here?” (408) 551-4611, santanarow.com.

Sutter Street Folsom, Calif. “This historic neighborhood dates back 150 years,” writes Aparna Agarwal of Folsom. “You’ll find artists' studios and galleries, wine bars, a famous pottery shop, side-street bistros, a chocolate store, a spiritual shop and dance studio—often with belly dancers—and a thriving farmers’ market on Sundays.” (916) 985-7452, historicfolsom.org.

Twenty-Fourth Street San Francisco. “In four blocks of the city’s Noe Valley neighborhood, there’s a chocolatier that sells decorative tins, a stationery store, an art glass shop, clothing boutiques, a cozy bookstore, decor shops, bistros, and coffeehouses,” says Patricia Corrigan of San Francisco. “Don’t miss the Ark, a great store that sells classic and contemporary toys.” (415) 641-8687, noevalleymerchants.com.

Oregon

G Street Grants Pass, Ore. “Admire the 1800s architecture and snap a memorable photo in this downtown historic district,” writes Steve Ware of Merlin, Ore. “Then smell the popcorn and coffee, drool over handmade chocolates, ponder a burger or fish-and-chips, ogle gleaming new bicycles, and view local art in the city museum.” (541) 450-6180, visitgrantspass.org.

Hawthorne Boulevard Portland. “There is no better place for strolling than on this street in the shadow of Mount Tabor,” writes Stephen Sasser of Portland. “As you saunter up the sidewalk, you’ll be tempted by the aromas of crepes, pizza, ice cream, bagels, and coffee. Other shops are filled with music, retro clothing, art, and all kinds of tchotchkes.” (503) 774-2832, thinkhawthorne.com.

North Hemlock Street Cannon Beach, Ore. “Windows here showcase everything from art to fashion to candy making,” says Ann Staatz of Portland. “I enjoy the flowered alcoves and porches with benches—great spots to have an ice cream cone.” (503) 436-2623, cannonbeach.org.

Northwest Twenty-Third Avenue Portland. “A window-shopper’s paradise,” writes Brent Yastrop of Albany, Ore. “Trendy clothes, kitchen goods, boutiques, coffee, and great small eateries. Feels like a pleasant European village.” (800) 962-3700, travelportland.com.

Third Street McMinnville, Ore. “It’s a pleasure to take a leisurely stroll here,” says Brenda Brunello of Providence, Utah. “There are artsy shops, an antique store, and the Boersma’s Sewing Center—a quilter’s dream, with window displays that draw you right in.” (503) 472-3605, downtownmcminnville.com.

Utah

Twenty-Fifth Street Ogden, Utah. “Some stores may be vacant here, but there are lots of great shops, both old and new,” says Ginny Ambrenac of Clinton, Utah. “Antique stores, boutiques, museums, historic structures, and fine spots for food and coffee.” (866) 867-8824, utah.com/culture/ogden.htm.

Photography by Don Frank

This article was first published in September 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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