Shop ‘til you drop in Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes has always been a mecca for shoppers ever since the centre:mk first opened way back in 1979. Once the longest undercover shopping mall in Europe, the wide glass walled malls were a revelation for UK shoppers with department stores anchoring either end and a wealth of other shops and restaurants in between it was a must visit place for miles around – who remembers C&A, Woolworths and Beatties Toy Shop?
Over the last 50 plus years, Milton Keynes has grown its reputation for being a fantastic place to come for the day and literally shop ‘til you drop. But what makes it so desirable, how can you make the most of your shopping trip and more importantly, where’s the best place to park?
DRAWN TO THE CENTRE
Most shoppers can’t help but be drawn to the ‘city’ centre; with two huge shopping centres right next door to each other, we can totally understand why. As mentioned above, centre:mk has been here the longest – it’s now a sleek, modern shopping centre which has undergone a major refurbishment over the last few years. The original John Lewis remains at one end with M&S at the other but new stores such as Harrods Beauty, a massive Primark and Hamleys have also bolstered the retail therapy opportunities.
Midsummer Place is the new kid on the shopping block. It opened in 2000 and is home to some big fashion names as well as some very cool brands such as Apple, Lego, Superdry and it even has its own Tesla store. At Xscape, just a hop, skip and jump from the two big guys above – they’re all about the lifestyle and outdoor sports brands with the likes of Trespass, Ellis Brigham and Surfanic.
IN THE MOOD FOR A MARKET
Sometimes overlooked, central Milton Keynes has the most amazing open-air market which is open five days a week. It features over 50 stalls selling everything from fruit & veg, tools, gifts, fabrics, clothes, kitchen equipment, luggage and much more. If you’re on the look out for a bargain, then this is definitely the place to head to.
THINK MARKET TOWNS – BUSTLING & INDEPENDENT
Okay, we know that when you think of shopping in Milton Keynes it’s normally huge, modern shopping centres that immediately spring to mind…but if you delve a little deeper, you’ll see it can be so much more. Way before the centre:mk was even conceived, let alone actually built, the surrounding market towns traded in their independent shops along their traditional high streets and many have kept this unique charm.
Head out to Stony Stratford, Newport Pagnell or Olney for a gentle meander through the towns to discover a wealth of independent shops to browse. You can even visit the oldest iron bridge in the country still in constant use at Newport Pagnell. Many towns also hold regular farmer’s markets supporting local traders across the area. It all seems so different to the hustle and bustle of the city centre but many are just a 10 minute drive away.
WHO DOESN’T LOVE A RETAIL PARK?
Yes, we know…one retail park looks very much like every other retail park but sometimes these can be an absolute gift if you just want everything in one place. At MK1 you’ll find M&S, Primark and Next, all over the road from Ikea and the largest Asda supercentre in the UK.
SO MUCH MORE THAN A GARDEN CENTRE
Just on the outskirts of Milton Keynes you’ll find Frosts Garden Centre but, to be very frank, you don’t need to be into gardening or have the foggiest idea about anything gardening related to enjoy this place. Yes, they have all the latest gardening equipment and a huge plant and tree ‘showroom’ but they are also a shopping and eating destination with a range of gifts, a Food Hall, two restaurants and they do the best afternoon tea in the region!
DON’T MENTION THE ‘P’ WORD!
Okay, we have to mention parking. If you come to Milton Keynes by car, you do need to find somewhere to park and the vast majority of places in the city centre are chargeable and there are different rates depending on where you park. The charges range from 50p per hour to £2.60 per hour. But you can park at the huge new multi-storey car park right next to John Lewis at centre:mk for as little as £1 for two hours. Or you can use some of the sustainable transport options like our electric buses and taxis or come by train, the main station is a 10 minute walk to the larger shopping areas.
WHY NOT MAKE A WEEKEND OF IT?
No one likes to rush their shopping trips, so why not stay over in Milton Keynes, relax and take your time. You have a choice of well-known chain hotels, serviced apartments, boutique B&Bs or self-catering. You could even take in a show at MK Theatre one evening, then explore the shops the next day.
Check out our Where To Stay section for more ideas – CLICK HERE
This article is brought to you by Destination Milton Keynes and funded by SEMLEP’s Growth Hub supporting the visitor economy in Milton Keynes.