Let us give you the first gift you'll receive this holiday season: a guide to shopping at the outlet malls in the region.
With Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa right around the corner, we know it's something you can use. Like most earnest gift givers, we're hoping it's something you'll enjoy as well.
We've included a sampling of stores, tidbits on eating places, driving directions and hours for shopping this weekend. We also worked hard to gather information on amenities, amusements, personal services and more at each mall. We even twisted some arms to get some savvy-shopper secrets for you.
We know you're savvy enough to call ahead or visit Web sites to get mall hours through the holiday season and to check on shopping incentives like coupon books and other discounts.
You don't have to send us a thank-you note.
Just get out there and shop, shop, shop.
, 7000 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover.
Number of stores: 200.
A sampling of stores: , Bed, Bath & Beyond, Golf America, the Flag Shop, Bath and Body Works, Charlotte Russe, Motherhood Maternity, Off 5th -- the Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet, United Colors of Benetton Outlet, Zales Diamond Outlet.
What the savvy shopper knows: If you're hip and trendy or need to find gifts for people who are, Arundel Mills is the place for you. All the designer brands are here, from Ann Taylor Loft, Perry Ellis and FUBU to Hugo Boss, Liz Claiborne and Kenneth Cole New York. Entertainment and amusement: 24-screen movie theater, rock-climbing walls, indoor ski and snowboarding simulator, bowling, billiards, arcade games, wildlife exhibits including a waterfall that flows into a 30,000-gallon aquarium.
Personal services: Nail salon, beauty salon.
Amenities: Valet parking, complimentary wheelchairs, stroller and locker rentals, ATMs. Eats: Five sit-down restaurants, ranging from a '50s diner to a white-tablecloth Italian trattoria; 10-stall food court; and a number of snack places scattered throughout selling ice cream, sweets and coffee.
Odds and ends: Arundel Mills measures a whopping 1.3 million square feet, so many people set aside more than a day to do serious shopping. This mega-mall also is a destination for bus trips from around the region, so be prepared for crowds. A number of hotels in Annapolis and the Baltimore area are offering "shop and stay" packages through the holidays.
Thanksgiving weekend hours: K.B. Toys opens 5 a.m. Nov. 23, other selected retailers open at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., entire mall is open 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Mall open Nov. 24 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Nov. 25 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Directions: From Interstate 95, take Route 100 east to Exit 10A, Arundel Mills Boulevard.
More information: 410-540-5100; www.arundelmillsmall.com.
, 1863 Gettysburg Village Drive, Gettysburg, Pa.
Number of stores: 70.
A sampling of stores: Christmas Tree Hill, Corning Factory Store, Hollywood Hat and Boot, Eddie Bauer, Harry and David's, Pfaltzgraff Outlet, Samsonite Company Store.
What the savvy shopper knows: Got kids on your list? Get to Gettysburg. You can buy toys, books and all sorts of apparel in an afternoon's stroll. All of the "in crowd" is accounted for, including K.B. Toys, adidas, Levi's, OshKosh B'Gosh, Old Navy and Gap Outlet.
Entertainment and amusement: Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by trolley at noon Nov. 24 with free gifts and balloons for children. Your kids can visit with him and have their picture taken. Live entertainment scheduled through the holidays.
Personal services: None here.
Amenities: Stroller and wheelchair rental, ATMs, free Internet access at computers in food court, courtesy trolley that takes shoppers up and down the mall's Main Street and to the parking lot.
Odds and ends: Gettysburg Village is just 15 minutes north of the Carroll County line off Maryland Route 97, and only about 10 minutes from Gettysburg and its historic battlefields. Pennsylvania does not tax apparel or a number of other items, so purchases are usually tax-free. During the holidays, parking along Main Street is reserved for drivers with handicapped permits.
Directions: Take Interstate 695 to I-795 north. Follow to Route 140 north toward Westminster. Follow to Route 97 north toward Union Mills and Pennsylvania ( a right- hand exit). Continue on 97 into Pennsylvania. Make a left on Gettysburg Village Drive.
More information: 800-868-7553; www.gettysburgvillage.com.
, 241 Fort Evans Road N.E., Leesburg, Va.
Number of stores: 110.
A sampling of stores: Bebe, Coldwater Creek, Mark, Fore & Strike/Boston Proper, Liz Claiborne, Smithsonian, Oneida Home, Wilson's Leather Outlet, Bose, Barney's New York, Little Me, Aerosoles, Jos. A. Bank.
What the savvy shopper knows: This is a great place to shop for your home or someone else's. There are more than 20 stores specifically devoted to your house and its contents, ranging from Pottery Barn Furniture Outlet, Williams-Sonoma Marketplace and Reed and Barton to Springmaid Wamsutta, Crate and Barrel, and Hoover.
Entertainment and amusement: Outside playground for kids. Strolling Santa on weekends. Live entertainment through the holidays.
Odds and ends: "Shop and stay" packages at area hotels through the holidays.
Thanksgiving weekend hours: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Nov. 23 (Tommy Hilfiger opens at 5:30 a.m., Ralph Lauren at 6 a.m.), 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 24, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Nov. 25.
Directions: Take Interstate 95 south toward Washington. Follow 95 to I-495 toward Northern Virginia. Follow 495 to Route 267 west (Dulles Toll Road/ Greenway). Follow 267 to exit for Route 15 north. Continue on 15, following signs to Leesburg Corner and Fort Evans Road exit. (It's easy to miss the signs that tell you where to turn, so pay attention.)
More information: 703-737-3071; www.premiumoutlets.com.
, 2700 Potomac Mills Circle, Prince William, Va.
Number of stores: 220.
A sampling of stores: IKEA, JCPenney Outlet, Nordstrom Rack, Spiegel Outlet, Brooks Brothers, Donna Karan, Laura Ashley Outlet, Nautica Clearance Center, Lenox, the Bible Factory, San Francisco Music Box, Royal Doulton Outlet, Timberland, XOXO, Urban Planet.
What the savvy shopper knows: Potomac Mills is full of little luxuries. Let the concierge make your lunch or dinner reservation. Get your hair cut, your nails done, your glasses fixed and your clothes tailored. Even better, let the nonshopper with you do all that while you spend with abandon. Watch MillsTV, the in-house television channel, to keep up on hourly and daily sales.
Entertainment and amusement: 15-screen movie theater, 62,000-square-foot skate park for skateboarding and rollerblading, visits and photos with Santa.
Personal services: Beauty salons, optical stores, nail salon, tailoring service, concierge.
Amenities: Wheelchairs available, stroller rental, ATMs, foreign-currency exchange, Internet access, fax and copy machines.
Eats: One sit-down restaurant, 24 fast-food places in food court, in stores and scattered throughout mall.
Odds and ends: Potomac Mills can be reached by shuttle bus from a number of locations in Washington and Northern Virginia. The shuttle service has a regular weekend schedule. Round-trip tickets cost $15. After 16 years in existence, Potomac Mills remains a popular bus-trip destination, so expect crowds.
Directions: Take Interstate 695 to I-95 south. Follow 95 south around Washington and into Virginia. Take Exit 158-B for Potomac Mills.
More information: 800-VA-MILLS; www.millscorp.com.
, 495 Prime Outlets Blvd., Hagerstown.
Number of stores: 100.
A sampling of stores: Dockers, Warnaco, Petite Sophisticate, S & K Menswear, Children's Place Outlet, Nike Factory Store, Vitamin World, Reebok Factory Direct Store, the Fuller Brush Co., Camp Coleman.
What the savvy shopper knows: This is the place to go if you're looking for stores not found at every outlet center (even sister centers also operated by Prime Outlets). April Cornell, Bombay Company, National Wildlife Federation Outlet, Geoffrey Beene, Koret of California and Woolrich are some of the more non-ubiquitous offerings you'll find here.
Entertainment and amusement: Playground for kids. This weekend and other scheduled weekends through December, Santa Claus and assorted holiday characters will stroll through the crowds. There will be free performances by local school and community groups through the holidays.
Personal services: None here.
Amenities: Free wheelchairs and strollers, automatic teller machines, fax and copy machine, telephone port for personal computer use, group tours.
Eats: Eight-stall food court.
Odds and ends: The wind can really whip through this outdoor shopping plaza, so you'll want to bring along a heavy coat -- especially if you plan to stay into the evening. If you're not up for the food court, and don't feel like driving a few more miles north to Hagerstown, you can always stop and dine in Frederick on the way home.
Directions: Take Interstate 695 to Interstate 70 west. Follow 70 to Route 65 north. Proceed north on 65 and immediately look for the entrance sign on the left.
More information: 888-883-6288; www.primeoutlets.com.
, 68 Heather Lane, Perryville.
Number of stores: 35.
A sampling of stores: Nike Factory Store, Mikasa, Book Cellar, Factory Brand Shoes, Deckers Country Woods.
What the savvy shopper knows: This is the place to find classic clothes that are made to last. Though Perryville is small compared to some of the mega-outlets in the region, it offers a number of respected retailers, including L. L. Bean, Jones New York, Liz Claiborne, Geoffrey Beene and Jos. A. Bank.
Entertainment and amusement: Playground for kids. Santa Claus arrives at noon Nov. 23.
Personal services: None here.
Amenities: Free wheelchairs and strollers.
Eats: A full-service delicatessen, and vending machines offering snacks and sodas.
Odds and ends: All of Perryville's stores are centrally located, so you don't have to trek a great distance to find a bargain. Be sure to bring enough cash, because there aren't any ATMs on site. A recently added third entrance to the parking lot makes coming and going a cinch.
Directions: Take Interstate 95 north to Exit 93 for Route 22. Follow 22 to a right on Heather Lane and into the Perryville center.
More information: 410-378-9399 www.primeoutlets.com.
, 441 Outlet Center Drive, Queenstown.
Number of stores: 57.
A sampling of stores: Britches Great Outdoors Factory Store, Bugle Boy, VF (Vanity Fair) Factory Outlet, St. John Knits, Pendleton Factory Outlet Store, Maidenform, Nike Factory Store.
What the savvy shopper knows: This is the place for giftware, like china, crystal, wicker, fancy gadgets for the kitchen and garden-themed items for the sunroom or deck. Best bets for gifts with a bit of style: Botanical Treasures, Outlet Island Imports, Welcome Home, Chesapeake Gourmet and Wicker Outlet.
Entertainment and amusement: This weekend and other scheduled weekends through December, Santa Claus and assorted holiday characters will stroll through the crowds. Free face painting for kids.
Personal services: Bank.
Amenities: Free wheelchairs and strollers, ATM, fax and copy machines, group tours.
Eats: Two sit-down restaurants and various stores that sell candy and snacks.
Odds and ends: Queenstown is closer than you think. It's only 20 minutes from Annapolis and about 45 minutes from Baltimore. Though the center is fairly spread out, there is parking in front of every store, so you can target your shopping and try to get a space in front of the store you want.
Directions: Take Interstate 695 to Route 97 south. Follow Route 97 to 50 east/301 north. Go across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to the 50 east/301 north split. Follow the signs to your first right-hand exit, which leads into Queenstown.
More information: 410-827-8699; www.primeoutlets.com.
, Route 1, Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Number of stores: 140.
A sampling of stores: Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Lillian Vernon, London Fog, J. Crew Factory Store, Harley Davidson, Disney Catalogue Outlet, Hartstrings Childrenswear Outlet, DKNY, Coach, Harry and David.
What the savvy shopper knows: Thanks to the sheer variety of stores, Rehoboth will please everyone you shop with and help you find a gift for everyone on your list. These stores can dress infants to senior citizens, right down to the shoes. Clothing styles range from funky to conservative. As far as gifts go, the mall covers everyone from Disney aficionados to sports nuts to bikers.
Entertainment and amusement: The BOSE store sometimes shows children's videos in its mini- theater.
Eats: Five sit-down restaurants, including a pizza parlor and a beach-themed barbecue place. Also, a number of candy stores, including Candy Kitchen, maker of famous taffy and fudge.
Odds and ends: This holiday eason, a number of area hotels are offering shopping packages that include a 10- to 30-percent discount on accommodations, depending on how much you spend at Rehoboth Outlets. Also, shopping in Delaware is tax-free.
Directions: Take Interstate 695 to Route 97 south. Follow 97 to Route 50 east/Route 301 north. Go across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to the 50 east/301 north split. Stay on 50 east to Route 404 east in Delaware. Follow 404 to Route 16 east. Follow 16 to Route 1 for Rehoboth Beach. Rehoboth Outlets is off Route 1.
More information: 888-SHOP-333; www.shoprehoboth.com.
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