Prudential Center in Boston's ritzy Back Bay neighborhood features a carefully curated mix of 75+ upscale stores and boutiques in an indoor shopping mall under immense glass skylights and domes.
With Boston's famous Newbury Street right around the corner and even higher-end Copley Place just a stroll through a skywalk away, Back Bay abounds with appealing opportunities for shoppers seeking designer labels and luxury goods.
So how does Prudential Center compete?
There are five strong reasons why you'll want to come here for shopping, dining, and entertainment ... starting with the excellent collection of stores, anchored by Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue:
Both Lord & Taylor and Saks offer boutique-like collections of coveted designer labels, with a particular emphasis on women's fashion.
Other clothing stores range from affordable, such as Ann Taylor, Loft, 344, and Express, to favorite-brand boutiques, such as Kate Spade, Gucci, Vera Bradley, Lacoste, Vineyard Vines, and White House/Black Market.
Lululemon Athletic and Olympia Sports provide plenty of choices for athletic gear.
You'll also find excellent shops for gifts, linens, and personal items in various price ranges, including Teavana, The Body Shop, L'Occitane, Sephora, and Swarovski.
Need a treat for yourself? Head over to Frette and stock up on the same luxury Italian linens featured at the Mandarin.
A huge Microsoft store and a well-stocked Barnes & Noble round out the offerings.
Part of what makes Pru Center special are its carts and kiosks, many of which feature unique handcrafted items. Each typically specializes in just one thing - artisan-crafted jewelry, gorgeous Russian art collectibles, Cross pens, exquisite hair ornaments, original art.
The Shops at Prudential Center's combination of large department stores, boutiques, and specialty shops combined with carts and kiosks makes it one of Boston's best locations for one-stop holiday shopping in Boston.
In addition to top-drawer shopping, Prudential Center also offers several excellent restaurants such L'Espalier, Towne, Wagamama, Cheesecake Factory, and Haru. On warm days, the outdoor patio dining at Towne can't be beat.
However, the crowning jewel, up on the 52nd floor, is famed Top of the Hub, known as a special occasion venue for romantic proposals, anniversary dinners, and celebrations with panoramic views of the city as a backdrop.
Although Prudential Center's Food Court has closed, it is being replaced by something even better: celebrity chef Mario Batali's Eataly, a 3-floor Italian gastronomy extravaganza rumored to cover an acre of space and include rooftop grills under a retractable roof. Eataly is expected to open in mid-late 2016 - but if you want a taste of Batali's cuisine before then, head over to Babbo on Boston Harbor.
Of course Prudential Center's selection of popular and high-end retailers, unique boutiques, and excellent restaurants draws crowds of enthusiastic shoppers - but let's face it, being located right in the heart of Back Bay also helps.
You simply can't beat the convenience. With the Green Line/E Prudential subway station located next to the Huntington Ave entrance and the city's largest parking garage (3,800 spaces!) underground, getting there couldn't be easier - unless you're on foot.
Direct access from Pru Center to the Sheraton Boston Hotel (technically through the Hynes Convention Center) and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel as well as close proximity to most other Back Bay hotels means you'll never have to carry overflowing shopping bags too far if you're staying in this part of the city.
The shopping arcade occupies the floor just above street level, perched between Boylston Street and Huntington Avenue. Enter from either street and ride up the escalator under soaring skylights.
Considering that 51 floors of the Prudential Building tower over the shopping arcade, an amazing amount of light streams through the immense glass skylights and domes.
Indoor gardens punctuate the long hall, and next to the shopping area - covering the roof of another part of the building complex - stretches the lush South Garden, with spectacular plantings and decorations throughout the year.
The Shops at Prudential have something no other Boston shopping mall can boast: an elevator up to the city's highest public observation deck. (John Hancock Tower is higher, but has been closed since 9/11.) The Prudential Skywalk Observatory, on the 50th floor, features spectacular 360 degree Boston city views.
For fun sightseeing views closer to the ground, hop on a Boston Duck Tour right outside of the building.
Be sure to get a Boston Discount Card before you come so that you'll get free admission to both the Skywalk Observatory and the Duck Tour - it's the best way to save in Boston!
If you plan to shop a lot during your Boston visit, check out the Back Bay hotels next to Pru Center - some of Boston's best, and close to Newbury Street shopping as well!
Boston hotels closest Prudential Center include:
I feel confident in telling you that Prudential Center is the only Boston shopping mall with a statue of a naked man leaping through the air outside its entrance.
Now let me be clear - this a magnificent museum-quality statue. It's called "Quest Eternal" by Boston-born 20th century sculptor, Donald DeLue, and according to the nearby plaque, the 5-ton, much-larger-than-life-size cast bronze sculpture is "depicting man reaching for the heavens."
Perhaps it's meant to convey what one will find inside Pru Center, or suggest the aspirations of the Prudential Tower skyscraper . . . although the figure's outstretched hand seems to point more in the direction of Hynes Convention Center next door.
You'll see the statue near the Boylston Ave entrance, on a small plaza slightly above street level. Passers-by sometimes do a double-take when they notice it. As far as I'm aware, it's the only DeLue public monument in Boston, although Childs Gallery on Newbury Street usually has a number of his smaller pieces.
The Shops at Prudential - and Boston - are lucky to have this wonderful sculpture. It's just the location outside a shopping plaza that's . . . quirky.
Location: 800 Boylston Street, Back Bay, Boston, MA
More information: 617-236-3100; website
Parking: Fee-based underground parking garage