Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good bargain. I am willing to go out of my way to make sure that I get a good deal on designer clothes. This past week I decided that this would mean a 24 hour mad dash from Toronto to Niagara Falls New York to the Outlet Mall there.
This was an adventure, so my husband and I rented a Dodge Avenger (drives great & good on gas) for our trek. We decided to cross using the Lewiston-Queenston bridge on the way there and that was a mistake. Although it is free, there is construction on the highway leading to the bridge and at the crossing itself. We ended up waiting for two hours here, so make sure you listen to the radio to see what bridge to take. On our way back we used the Rainbow Bridge, and even though it cost $3 it was worth it. Take the Rainbow Bridge to cross between Canada and the United States; it was faster and the border guards were nicer.
After our border wait we went straight to the Outlets to make the most of our day. We stopped at the Olive Garden for lunch, it is right beside the outlets. I ordered the soup and salad, and my husband had the chicken alfredo. The food was delicious and what you generally expect from an Olive Garden. We were disappointed with the wait time (20 minutes at 2pm with half the restaurant empty) but the service was pretty good. Totally full, we went to the mall.
There is a variety of stores to choose from: Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Coach, Brooks Brother, the Gap, Banana Republic, BCBG, J Crew, Oakly, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bare Escentuals, Barneys, Ralph Lauren, DKNY, Nine West and Aldo. I was particularly pleased with Kate Spade, J Crew and Banana Republic. I was let down by the collection at both J Crew and Brooks Brothers-- there was not a wide selection and higher end items were non-existent. I was extremely disappointed with the Gap. The store was a mess, the clothing was poor quality and the selection was disgusting. They did not even carry their normal jean collection or dress pants! I was absolutely horrified and left disappointed and empty handed.
My overall impression of the Outlet Mall is good. I had a nice afternoon, ate tasty food and found a few bargains! I would recommend going through the week because there will be less people and maybe in an "off season". By that I mean mid September/October or in January through March. I would recommend an overnight trip because if you're Canadian you can bring back $200 worth of goods without paying 13% HST. Good deal all around!