Let's be honest: We need malls. Sure, we love our local specialty shops and value their integrity. But when it comes to quick fixes, malls are where it's at. Besides, why boutique-hop when you have everything you need all in one spot? One word: inflation -- it's a royal bitch.
With the holidays rapidly approaching, we thought it would be a nice gesture to pay tribute to Miami's best retail conglomerates, because 'tis always the season to celebrate consumerism in a city as magical as ours.
So here are Miami's five best shopping malls:
We admit Merrick has seen better days. But nothing beats strolling its outdoor areas on a warm, lazy Sunday and surrendering the last few dollars in your checking account to a wool peacoat from J. Crew that you'll never use. Hey, no judgment -- you absolutely needed it, right? Loaded with some of the best in the ready-to-wear league -- Burberry, Neiman, and multiline boutique Koko & Palenki -- Merrick Park also has a strong sense of community with its annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. Apart from all the spending sprees awaiting at its 110 retail spots, Merrick offers a grubfest of restaurants, one of which is also a hookah lounge. Here's lookin' at you, Sawa.
Having undergone many facelifts and architectural fillers over the past 30 years as Miami's oldest mall, Dadeland Mall looks damn fine for her age. Not only is the shopping destination the closest glimmer of hope for the residents of Kendall and Pinecrest, the mall also lures 17 million visitors annually to its 1.5-million-square-foot fortress. Not to mention it's the only one on this list boasting a brick-and-mortar Free People and the largest Macy's in Florida.
3. Lincoln Road
The president of Lincoln Road, Steven Gombinski, has compared South Beach's sprawling retail and dining promenade to the prestige of the Champs-Élysées in Paris. But if it were up to us, a hybrid version of Las Vegas Boulevard would be a much better fit -- minus all the nudie trading cards scattered on the sidewalk, of course. Lincoln Road is swiftly emerging as one of Miami's premier shopping destinations, with one-off boutiques like Base and Alchemist, and anchoring newcomers like Lululemon and Zadig & Voltaire. Talks of squeezing in British megaretailer Topshop have also been rumored. Plus, do you know of any other mall that can say it has a 93-year-old church on its strip?
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Trust-fund babies and gold-diggers with impeccable taste call this terrarium of high-end and luxury retailers home. Still, even if you can't throw down a black card, window-shopping at Bal Harbour is just as fun. Let's say you win the lotto tomorrow. Where's the first place you would go? Bal Harbour Shops, of course! And come that fateful day ('cause you know, winning the lotto happens to people every day), designers like Stella McCartney, Saint Laurent, Etro, and Chanel await. Let's not forget the eminent arrival of Barney's, which means only one thing: massive sales. This mall is known as one of the most productive retail destinations in the world, boasting an average of $2,800 per square foot in sales last year.
The mother ship of malls, Aventura puts all other contenders to shame. Every demographic can leave this 2.7-million-square-foot, 300-retailer expanse a happy shopper, with everything from high-end stops like Louis Vuitton to discounted staples like JCPenney. It's Florida's largest retail mall and verges on the second-largest slot in the nation. And it's only getting bigger. Recent figures say the mall draws about 28 million visitors a year, making it the nation's second-most visited mall after Minnesota's mammoth Mall of America. Aventura is looking to expand with the acquisition of a new wing by the food court and a new parking garage outside Penney's -- no more Sunday-afternoon brawls outside Bloomingdale's!