Shoppers at The Mall in Columbia have no shortage of choices — with more than 200 stores and more than 1.3 million square feet of retail space to explore, they’re bound to find whatever they’re looking for.

Owned and managed by General Growth Properties, the mall is the county’s largest retail center and includes five major department stores: Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Sears.

Shoppers can also rest and restore their energy with fare from 23 food court restaurants, or venture outside to a plaza that includes L.L. Bean and the restaurants P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Champps Restaurant & Bar, Uno Chicago Grill and The Cheesecake Factory, not to mention a 14-screen AMC Theater complex.

Elsewhere in the county are plenty of not-to-be-missed shopping areas.

The newest among these is Gateway Overlook in Elkridge. Home to Costco, Trader Joe’s, Best Buy and Lowe’s among many others, its convenient location off Interstate 95 makes it accessible from all directions.

> A short drive down 175 is Columbia Crossing, home to Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts, Pier 1 Imports, Borders, Target and other stores.  

> Nearby Snowden Center on Snowden River Parkway has Michaels Crafts, The Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond and discount shopping including BJ’s, Home Goods and Marshalls.

> Dobbin Station, located at the corner of Dobbin Road and Old Dobbin Lane, is home to Petco, Party City and La-Z-Boy Furniture.

> At routes 29 and 100, Long Gate Shopping Center in Ellicott City is home to Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Kohl’s, Old Navy, Target and Michaels Crafts.

> Each village within Columbia has its own conveniently located village center, most  containing supermarkets, retail specialty stores and services like dry cleaners, shoe repairs, card shops, tailors and more.

> Still another shopping mecca in the county is Route 40, which is lined with shopping centers and individual retailers selling everything from tires to freshly baked bread. Three of the largest centers are Chatham Station, Enchanted Forest and Normandy Center, where owners are planning a mixed-use redevelopment.

> Lotte Plaza, just off the intersection of routes 40 and 29, houses a vast complex of Korean stores that sell food, furniture, household goods, clothing, electronics, books, music and more.

> Clarksville, especially on Route 108, is home to several shopping areas including River Hill Village Center, Clarksville Square and Clarksville Station, which houses Roots, a health-food market, and its sister store, Nest, which sells organic products and housewares.

Howard County boasts unique places to shop

In Historic Ellicott City, centered around Main Street, shoppers will find scores of gift, home accessory, clothing, craft and antiques shops. Ellicott City, in fact, is a major source of antiques in the state. It houses an antiques mall comprising myriad vendors, as well as individual shops.

Another unique shopping venue and major antiques source is Historic Savage Mill, just off Route 1. The restored mill, where workers once made canvas for sails and, later, Christmas ornaments, houses myriad unique shops, stalls and galleries, as well as the studios of artists and craftspeople. The Antiques Center and the International Antiques Design Center also are located here.

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