BEST MALL Miami 2004 - Dadeland Mall
Even if it were just another bombed-out shell of a strip center at an indeterminate point of the overused, Hummer-thronged dead leaves highway memorialized by the Allman Brothers, the Dadeland Mall would still win the battle of the big boxes for the singular virtue of housing Italianate design store and Miami original Arango. Owner and Arango Design Foundation founder Judith Arango Henderson died in the summer of 2003, but the store, a south county fixture since the Sixties, continues. At Arango you can purchase a $4000 bed with a hydraulically hoisted mattress under which to store your valuables, or a $5 napkin ring to make place settings sparkle, both, along with everything in between, splashed with the unmistakable élan of the Capitoline Wolf. Dadeland has lots of other reasons to shout Ciao Bella! The mall is easily accessed by bus and Metrorail (it has its own stop) and offers plenty of free parking. All the comforting chains -- the Gap, Forever XXI, Foot Locker, and Victoria's Secret -- are present, along with the more esoteric L'Occitane and Sephora. There are even touches of architectural whimsy (Burdines-Macy's is unavoidably a central thoroughfare) and cleverness (an alcoved food court prevents eau de Chick-fil-A from permeating your purchases).