Biltmore Fashion Park (24th St. and Camelback Rd., 602/955-8400, www.shopbiltmore.com , 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Wed., 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Thurs.–Fri., 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Sat., noon–6 p.m. Sun.) is more than a mall. Since opening in 1963, the open-air shopping center has become a sort of public square in Phoenix ’s posh Biltmore neighborhood, attracting many of the city’s residents to its upscale shops, landscaped courtyards, and popular restaurants.
Macy’s and Borders anchor the western end of the complex. Next door, Saks Fifth Avenue overlooks a grassy lawn, attracting well-heeled clients who visit the store’s mini-boutiques dedicated to Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Prada. Under the Biltmore’s shaded canopies you’ll find other big-name brands like Escada, Ralph Lauren, Apple, and Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa.
A controversial remodel has transformed the much-beloved midcentury landmark’s design, though it did add a new underground pedestrian walkway that connects the center to additional restaurants, a movie theater, and The Ritz-Carlton on the other side of Camelback Road.
The Melrose District has become the city’s thrift-store haven. Among the half-dozen antiques stores, Retro Redux (4303 N. 7th Ave., 602/234-0120, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Wed.–Sun.) sells old-school clothing, dishware, and furniture.
Nearby, the Phoenix Metro Retro (708 W. Hazelwood St., 602/279-0702, www.phoenixmetroretro.com , 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sat.) opens Saturdays for a warehouse sale of affordable midcentury modern furniture.
Hollywood Regency (708 W. Montecito Ave., 602/277-5765, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Wed.–Sat.) is regularly named the best vintage shop in Phoenix, with women’s clothing from the 1940s to the ’80s.
Think of it as Phoenix ’s answer to Chinatown. The COFCO Chinese Cultural Center (668 N. 44th St., 602/273-7268, www.phxchinatown.com ) brings a bit of the Far East to the Sonoran Desert, with graceful pagodas, traditional arches, small gardens, and restaurants serving Mandarin, Sichuan, and Shanghai-style cuisine.
Stroll the grounds and visit the small shops, like Golden Gifts (602/275-1311, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–7 p.m. Sun.) and the Chinese Herbal Shop (602/244-9885, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. daily). Be sure to make some time to pop into the mammoth Super L Ranch Market (602/225-2288, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily), which features rows of imported goods, crisp produce, and tanks with live fish to guarantee a fresh “catch.”
A few mod, independent shops are clustered around Camelback Road and Central Avenue, like Frances (10 W. Camelback Rd., 602/279-5467, www.francesvintage.com , 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun.), where shoppers will find an eclectic mix of goods reflecting the boutique’s vintage-inspired aesthetic, like embroidered blouses, men’s wallets, retro paper goods, soy candles, and fun gifts for kids and adults.
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, for this one-of-a-kind boutique in Central Phoenix. Red Hot Robot (14 W. Camelback Rd., 602/264-8560, www.redhotrobot.net , noon–7 p.m. Tues.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun.) stocks Japanese pop-inspired books, clothing, art, and “designer toys.” Owner Jason Kiningham has created a whimsical “toy gallery + cultureshop” that kids and adults will appreciate. Check out the imported vinyl figures and prints, as well as the quirky pieces designed by Arizona artists.
For hip furniture and housewares, Haus Modern Living (4700 N. Central Ave. Ste. 102, 602/277-0111, www.hausmodernliving.com , 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Tues.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun.) supplies Barcelona chairs, Jonathan Adler ceramics, Alessi home accessories, and trendy pieces by Philippe Starck.
Red Modern Furniture (201 E. Camelback Rd., 602/256-9620, redmodernfurniture.com, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun.) is the place to go for original vintage pieces by Eero Saarinen, Arne Jacobsen, Knoll, Henredon, Gio Ponti, and Charles and Ray Eames. This hidden gem is a resource for some the nation’s top interior designers and collectors. Inside the boutique, you’ll find Mint, a beautifully curated collection of vintage clothing and accessories by brands like Gucci, Dior, and Louis Vuitton.
Video killed the radio star, and the Internet is slowly killing the music shop. Fortunately, Stinkweeds (12 W. Camelback Rd., 602/248-9461, www.stinkweeds.com , 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–6 p.m. Sun.) keeps hope alive for Valley music lovers as one of the city’s last independent record shops, specializing in up-and-coming bands, imports, and music from independent labels.