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Macy's Store Tours in Chicago, New York and San Francisco

August 10, 2015 | Macy's News
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Macy's Center City Philadelphia Tours

Macy’s is well-known for the stylish fashion it carries and for the epic events it sponsors. But did you know that Macy’s also conducts special guided group tours that highlight its spectacular take on holiday traditions, its innovative retailing technologies, and the fascinating history and architectural features of its flagship stores? Guided group tours like the Holiday Traditions Tour in Macy’s on State Street in Chicago, the Tech Connect Tour held in the macys.com building in San Francisco and the Historic Tour in Macy’s Herald Square in New York attract visitors the world over with gripping sights and information.

 The Great Tree Lighting in The Walnut Room restaurant in Macy's on State Street in Chicago is a major draw during the holidays.

Holiday Traditions Tour at Macy’s on State Street

Visitors to Chicago can infuse the holiday season with an extra dose of festivity and fun by signing up for the Holiday Traditions Tour at Macy’s on State Street—a guided experience that casts light on Macy’s longstanding holiday traditions as well as those that had existed at Marshall Field’s, which occupied the store before Macy’s took it over in 2006.

Attendees of the hour-long tour learn all about these cherished holiday traditions, including the history of the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City; hear fun facts about store features like SantaLand®, which was called “Cozy Cloud” during the Marshall Field days; and get the low-down on must-see store features that are absolutely breathtaking when decked out in their holiday best.

The Great Tree Lighting in The Walnut Room restaurant in Macy's on State Street in Chicago is a major draw during the holidays

After meeting up inside the store, tour participants head outside to see the famed State Street animated window displays (a tradition that dates back to 1897) and get an explanation of the year’s theme and its execution.

No one who enters the historic nine-floor store would want to miss out on seeing the grand Walnut Room restaurant with its stunning Circassian Walnut paneling (installed over 100 years ago) and Austrian chandeliers. But from November to early January, the elegant space is truly awe inspiring—a 45-foot Great Tree dazzles with 15,000 lights and 1,200 themed ornaments. Since it’s not uncommon to wait four or five hours for a Walnut Room seat during the holiday season (the menu features special holiday offerings), why not take the Holiday Traditions Tour, do your gift shopping and visit SantaLand while you wait to be seated? It’s the perfect family holiday outing!

Holiday Tradition Tours are available every Friday in November and December at 11:30am for $12 per person, or by reservation for groups of 10 or more. Guests receive a Macy’s 10% Visitor Savings Pass.


Macy’s Tech Connect Tour at macys.com in San Francisco

This group tour for students demystifies the burgeoning Macy’s ecommerce operation—macys.com—and its powerful alliance with 800+ Macy’s brick-and-mortar stores. Participants learn about the ways in which the respective enterprises strengthen and fuel one another through Macy’s Omnichannel approach—a multisystem strategy for making sure all aspects of the shopping experience are connected and that a customer’s needs are met whether they’re on a home computer, a mobile device or in a physical store.

The tour lays the groundwork by first discussing the 157-year evolution of the Macy’s company and the history of the flagship Union Square store, then proceeds to talk about macys.com. The website launched in 1998, experienced stunning growth and now has 800+ employees dedicated to developing tech tools and marketing approaches that maximize the Macy’s shopping experience.

Tour attendees learn all about online shopping trends; Omnichannel strategies; online marketing; the Macys mobile app; macys.com employees’ in-house ideas lab; handheld point-of-service devices used by sales associates to help customers; Macy’s Wallet—a digital location for storing coupons and special offers; and the Buy Online Pick-Up in Store (BOPS) service—a revolutionary way of enabling customers to pick up merchandise they ordered online in physical stores.

But the Tech Connect Tour is not just an eye-opening educational experience; it’s also fun. The tour takes place at the macy’s.com building in the bustling SOMA (south of market) district of San Francisco—at the heart of the nation’s tech innovation hub. Starting in the lobby, participants progress through three floors (macy’s.com occupies a total of seven floors here) and discuss the focus of the activities that take place in them as they go. An extra bonus: fabulous views of the Bay Bridge from the rooftop deck. 

The Tech Connect Tour costs $13 per person for a minimum group of 10. One chaperone per group of 10 is complimentary. All participants receive a Macy’s 10% Visitor Savings Pass. The tour is also available in store to non students.


Macy’s Historic Store Tour at Macy’s Herald Square

Crowds flocked to see the groundbreaking window displays at R. H. Macy & Co. at the corner of 14th Street and 6th Avenue in New York.

Participants in this 60-minute-long tour get firsthand views of the flagship store that represented one of the most major milestones in the company’s evolution, and gain deep insight into the illustrious history of Macy’s—from its modest roots in a 14th Street emporium founded by R.H. Macy’s in 1858 to the present-day, 800+ store empire that employs 172,500 people.

The Herald Square store is one of the largest stores in the world. Built in 1902 and a National Historic Landmark since 1978, it comprises 10.5 levels of merchandise. Architectural highlights seen on the tour include the store’s original wooden escalators (some of which are still in use) and the memorial entrance on 34th Street (between Broadway and 7th Avenue) where the “My Heart Will Go On” plaque hangs in commemoration of Isidor and Ida Straus who took over ownership of Macy’s from the founding family in 1895 and later perished on the Titanic.

Heart Will Go On Plaque, Macy's New York

In addition to discussing the history of Macy’s and the Herald Square store, the tour guide also talks about Macy’s many inventive merchandising, visual and marketing techniques, which have revolutionized the retail industry throughout the 150+ years of the company’s existence. Did you know, for example that Macy’s was the first store to institute a one-price system (which put an end to bargaining) and offer money-back guarantees? Participants also will learn about contemporary visual merchandising techniques, like how the outfits on store mannequins are switched out every two weeks to highlight specific brands, trends and seasonal themes.

The cost of the Macy’s Historic Store Tour is $12 for a minimum group of 10. Guides cater to different group sizes and ages. All participants receive a Macy’s 10% Visitor Savings Pass.


More Macy’s Guided Group Tours and Programs

Macy’s offers additional guided tours and group programs in each of the flagship stores mentioned above as well as in other stores located in major visitor destinations.

  • Chicago’s Macy’s on State Street offers a Historic Store Tour, an Educational Store Tour, and a Flower Show and History Tour. Click here for more details.
  • Macy’s Union Square in San Francisco also offers a Flower Show Tour in late March and early April, and a Magic of Macy’s Tour. Click here for more details.
  • Macy’s Herald Square in New York also offers a Merchandising Tour. Click here for details.

Click here to access additional Macy’s stores offering group tours and programs.  

About the Author

Meet Keri Hanson

Wine. Food. Travel. Repeat.