Not surprisingly, I love to browse around malls. I like to see what's new, look for ideas for TV segments and - occupational hazard - observe people and how they shop.
Anytime I book a TV appearance in Minneapolis, I always schedule a few hours to wander around the number one tourist attraction in Minnesota: the Mall of America. I get a bit of shopping done, and it's a great way to stretch my legs and move around after sitting on an airplane for several hours. Without even thinking about it, I get in miles and miles of walking.
The Mall - in a word - is massive. With 520 stores and more than two dozen rides and attractions, there's something for everyone. To give you an idea of the size, you could fit 32 Boeing 747s or seven Yankee Stadiums inside of it.
Over the years, I have scooped up a few fashion finds here that turned out to be really good ideas. A super-soft leather jacket from an unexpectedly snowy October visit 15 years ago, and one of my favorite cozy winter turtleneck sweaters - a teal number from Ann Taylor that, more than a decade later, I still wear all.the.time in freezing weather.
The sensory overload of the mall can be a bit much, especially on a weekend. The amusement park rides in the ginormous atrium provide a steady soundtrack of background noise. This particular weekend, I had the added challenge of trying to avoid being crashed into by people playing Pokemon GO in an already-crowded space.
One thing I appreciate is that the food court is on a separate level from most of the stores, so you aren't bombarded with pizza and cinnamon pretzel aromas while you try on shoes. Happily, I was able to sneak away to one of the many full-service restaurants for lunch, grabbing a quiet corner at Tiger Sushi to a tuck into a plate of sashimi.
To stay organized and avoid buying things we don't need, I always go with a shopping list. This time, it consisted of a comfy new pair of ankle boots for our upcoming holiday in Paris and London, a cute but sturdy duffle bag that can withstand the abuse of airline baggage handlers, and extra-long socks for what I assume will be a cold winter (you should be able to find plenty of those in Minnesota, right?)
Here is what I picked up this weekend. Are they fancy? Not in the least - but they are super-comfy and are ready to log millions of miles around Paris and London next month.
And that duffle bag? Mission accomplished at L.L.Bean.
My final stop - always - is Caribou Coffee. They have half a dozen locations in the mall, perfect for unwinding after a long walk, or - during the winter - for warming up before heading out into the Minnesota cold.
Have you ever been to the Mall of America? If so, what did you think?