Best of

the Twin Cities

Best Mall

Maplewood Mall

With the behemoth in Bloomington set to expand once again, we're here to extoll the virtues of a regular mall — you know, a place you to go to shop, maybe eat, possibly try to keep the kids entertained a bit. And the best place to do that is, yes, in Maplewood. There's nothing too high-end, but Maplewood Mall has most of the mid-priced stores we expect: The anchor department stores are Macy's, Kohl's, and Sears, and there's an Express, a Foot Locker, a Victoria's Secret, etc. This is also the site of the very first H&M to open in Minnesota. Bargain clothes hunters can also check out Ragstock, along with Forever 21 and other fast-fashion shops. Many malls are now bereft of a bookstore, but there's a large Barnes & Noble at Maplewood. There are also some more unusual tenants: an acupressure clinic, a Teavana for all your tea needs, and a Spencer's (which was once a mall staple but now a rarity) for gag gifts and teenage giggles. You can get your hair cut, your nails done, and your shoes repaired. There's a small but diverse food court. And Maplewood Mall really excels on the entertaining-kids (affordably) front: There's an actual arcade with video games and skee-ball, right next to a free play area for little ones. Best of all is the old-fashioned double-decker Venetian carousel in the center of the mall. A replica of a 19th-century German carousel, it was built and hand-painted in Italy, and a few years ago it was dismantled and sent to Florida for maintenance and repair, so it's now in great shape and still costs only $2 to ride. Even from outside it's obvious that this is a superior mall: If you approach the building from the east, you'll see a lovely mosaic mural on one wall, and in front of it a giant cloud-painted cistern, part of the mall's system for capturing rainwater and preventing polluted runoff to nearby lakes. There are 55 rain gardens in the parking lots and some porous pavement too. So it's possible to convince yourself that by shopping at this mall you're doing something good for the environment.

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