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Saving in tax-free U.S. destinations

SmarterTravel

Tax season is finally over, and many people have a refund to spend on travel. Travelers and shopaholics alike may enjoy a post-tax season visit to one of the U.S.’ sales-tax-free states, where they can maximize their money and minimize what goes right back to the government. These five states are scattered across the country and offer savings on all types of shopping, from outlets to designer boutiques and specialty shops. Whether you’re planning a weekend jaunt to the outlets, or want to shop on a vacation you’ve already planned, knowing where to find the best tax-free shopping can save precious dollars in your vacation budget.

Alaska

Alaska vacations are expensive, whether you’re cruising or flying and staying in hotels, so the absence of sales tax can make shopping for souvenirs guilt-free. The biggest places to shop are in Anchorage and Juneau, with options ranging from department stores to shops selling Alaskan specialties.

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Delaware

Delaware may be one of the nation’s smallest states, but it has plenty of shopping. Travelers from all over the Mid-Atlantic region come to spend at the Rehoboth Outlets (part of the Tanger Outlet Centers chain), featuring more than 130 stores. In addition, the outlets are located in Rehoboth, a short drive from the popular Rehoboth Beach. Additionally, Wilmington’s riverfront is home to the outdoor Shipyard Shops outlets, which include an L.L. Bean Factory Outlet Store.

Sussex County, in southern Delaware, is an antique hunter’s paradise, with more than 500 antiques dealers. The towns of Bethany Beach, Dagsboro, Georgetown, Laurel, Lewes, and Milton are scattered with antique shops, flea markets, and multi-dealer co-ops.

Delaware is easily reached by car from bordering Mid-Atlantic states, and is about two hours from New York and Washington, D.C. Visitors by air generally fly into Baltimore or Philadelphia, both of which are served by low-cost carrier Southwest. To search for airfare deals to either airport, visit our [% 224886 | | Airfare %] section.

Montana

Admittedly, not many people come to Montana for its shopping. However, several cities and towns have unique shopping opportunities that could make it worthwhile.

You can find a variety of shops in the historic downtowns of Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Kalispell, and Missoula. In addition, Bozeman features Country Mall Antiques, with more than 60 antiques dealers and a 10,000-square-foot showroom.

Helena is home to the Last Chance Gulch pedestrian mall that has galleries, specialty shops, sporting goods stores, and more. You won’t find many chain stores in the area, as most are locally owned.

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New Hampshire

Outlets are New Hampshire’s most popular shopping spots. The state has several areas with large outlets, including Tilton (Tanger Outlet Center) and North Conway (Settlers’ Green Shopping Outlet).

For something different, the town of Keene features the Colony Mill Marketplace, a restored mill that is home to an antiques center with more than 120 antiques dealers.

New Hampshire also has several small towns with small independent specialty shops and boutiques, including Hanover (home to Dartmouth College) and Portsmouth.

Getting to New Hampshire is an easy drive from the surrounding New England states. For those flying into the state, Manchester airport is a good option, and is served by low-fare carrier Southwest. Boston’s Logan airport is a short drive from southern New Hampshire, and is served by AirTran and JetBlue. To search for airfare deals to Manchester or Boston, visit the [% 224886 | | U.S. airfare deals page %].

Oregon

Many visitors come to Oregon to drive its dramatic coastline, or to enjoy outdoor pursuits like hiking, white-water rafting, kayaking, and skiing. However, the state has several great shopping areas, all of which are tax-free.

Ashland has been voted one of the best small arts towns in America, and is home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The town (and the general vicinity) has more than 20 specialty shops, including no fewer than six bookstores, a few antiques shops, and several independent clothing stores.

Downtown Portland has a variety of shops, from chain stores like Nordstrom to small, independently run establishments. In addition, Portland hosts a popular Saturday crafts market with one-of-a-kind pottery, jewelry, and clothing. Portland also has several neighborhoods with galleries, bookstores, and specialty shops great for browsing. These include Hawthorne, Nob Hill, and Pearl District. The city of Portland is currently offering a special deal geared for shoppers. “The Big Deal” package includes accommodations, free parking, breakfast, and visitor vouchers with discounts on shopping and dining.

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