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Shopping as a destination. If you cannot imagine traveling farther than across the street to check out the merchandise, this story is not for you. But if you love the smell of new stuff and the fun of chasing bargains in a new place, there is likely to be a major mall almost anywhere you go.
Shopping malls are a relatively new phenomenon in America. Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo., 15 blocks of shops, was designed in the 1920s as the country’s first planned shopping area. Since then, malls have developed in all kinds of ways, from collections of shops built around outdoor courtyards to massive indoor centers with restaurants and entertainment.
Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., near Minneapolis, bills itself as the largest fully enclosed retail and entertainment complex in the country. It has more than 500 stores, anchored by Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Sears. You can catch a bite at the food court or at some casual dining spots. If your spouse gets cranky, suggest a visit to the flight simulator or a run around the track in the NASCAR simulator. Or bribe the kids with a trip to the mall’s seven-acre amusement park, complete with a roller coaster, or a visit to the Dinosaur Museum, all within the mall. When you are done shopping, treat everyone to the world’s largest underground aquarium, where the shark exhibit was called “the best on the planet” by the Animal Channel.
One of the premier malls on the East Coast is the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pa., near Philadelphia. It has more than 400 stores in its two buildings, including major department stores like Nordstrom, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, J.C. Penney, Lord and Taylor, and Sears. There also are many upscale stores, including Tiffany, Versace, Burberry, Hermes and Louis Vuitton, as well as mall standards like The Gap, Old Navy and Abercrombie & Fitch. The mall has three food courts as well as several casual dining restaurants.
Roosevelt Field, in Garden City, N.Y., was built on the site where Charles Lindbergh took off in his historic trans-Atlantic flight to Paris in 1927. When the mall opened in 1956, it was billed as the largest mall in the world. Although it is no longer the largest, this shopping mecca on Long Island has more than 200 stores, anchored by Bloomingdale’s, J.C. Penney, Macy’s and Nordstrom.
Heading down the coast, there is the Sawgrass Mills Mall in Sunrise, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale. Sawgrass Mills is Florida’s largest retail and entertainment location, with more than 350 stores. The Colonnade Outlets at Sawgrass offers upscale outlet stores, including Burberry, Coach, Hugo Boss, Kate Spade and Valentino.
The Galleria in Houston draws more than 24 million shoppers a year. It has more than 375 stores and restaurants, anchored by Macy’s, Nieman Marcus, Nordstrom and Sak’s Fifth Avenue. It also has an ice rink, and if you want to make a weekend of your visit, you can stay at one of the two Westin hotels that are part of the mall.
South Coast Plaza, in Costa Mesa, Calif., is a luxury shopping location worthy of its Orange County location. With anchors that include Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Sak’s, and stores like Cartier, Hermes, Armani and Jimmy Choo, South Coast Plaza consistently boasts one of the highest sales per square foot of any mall. If you get tired of shopping and want to take a culture break, visit the Orange Lounge, a part of the Orange County Museum of Art.