Retail stores and malls in Miami-Dade County continue to multiply exponentially, complicating the question of where to shop. Oh the Falls has its merits: lush foliage, soothing sounds of water, and a view of the sky. But on a sticky summer day, when it rains sideways, you better hope you're not strolling down the sidewalk toting your brand-new wedding dress. The fortresslike Shops at Sunset Place also boasts that indoor/outdoor thing, including fake trees and a lot more concrete. The IMAX theater is swell, but the joint is really just an inward-looking CocoWalk. Bal Harbour? Too chichi, even though the Everyman Gap and Banana Republic are there. But pay to park our car? Don't think so, even less because the management is squabbling with a neighboring church. Tacky! We like to stay dry, not feel claustrophobic, park for free, and, of course, enjoy a wide selection of shops, restaurants, movie theaters, and myriad free events like antique and flower shows. Aventura more than meets all those requirements. After a multimillion-dollar revamp, it touts major anchors such as Burdines, Bloomingdale's, and Macy's; 250 specialty stores, including chains like Restoration Hardware, BCBG, and Nine West; plus a smattering of independent boutiques. There's also 24 new theaters and enough food to feed a Third World country for years. An early morning mall-walking exercise program is available for those who overindulge. Quite simply shopping utopia.
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