Why the Mall is Still the Greatest Place on Earth

Courtesy of NorthPark CenterCourtesy of NorthPark CenterJohn Januzzi, Lucky magazine

Over the holiday break
, I spent some time in my hometown. Of course, we did the usual family dinners, catch-ups with friends and all kinds of wassailing. As anybody from a suburb will tell you, activities can become boring very quickly and you're left with the inevitable choice of going to the movies or going to the mall. Over the holidays, you're more than likely to do both, as I did. While walking through the mall I realized something-something that may have eluded my New York City snob heart: The mall is the greatest place on earth. Why? I'll tell you.

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There are bathrooms all over the place. Bathrooms in the stores, bathrooms in the hall, bathrooms in the restaurant.

Weird stores
: Malls are full of the weirdest shops ever. There used to be one I loved called Natural Wonders. It had slinkees, statues of gargoyles and Pure Moods CDs.

Food courts: Oh, is this heaven? Nah, it's a food court. You want some Arby's with your Burger King? No problem. How about a side of KFC with your Chinese food? Right away.

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Fancy mall restaurants: Houlihans, Ruby Tuesday, California Pizza Kitchen, P.F. Changs, Brio and the wild dining experience that is Rainforest Cafe. The choices, the sodium, the bliss.

Holiday icons:
Only in a shopping mall will you be able to rub elbows with Santa Claus in the winter and the Easter Bunny in the spring. Believe the magic.

Your youth:
Like a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the first time your parents let you run free in the mall with your friends is a major rite of passage in a young person's life. You may only get an hour and $20 to spend, but in that moment, I swear you were infinite.

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Parking garages:
If you play it right, you don't even have to go outside to go to the mall. Garage to garage, you won't deal with mother nature once.

Growing up:
You grew up at th emall. You got dragged there as a toddler, forced into back-to-school-shopping as a kid and finally sought refuge from your family there. No matter your age, the mall was there for you.

Gardens and stuff: Tired of being indoors? Fancy malls have gardens in them, so get your nature fix. No garden? Try the endless amount of randomly placed fountains. No fountain? Then it's time to take in some of that fine commercial art. Who says you can't have culture while you shop?

Pretzels in department stores: Because nothing says luxury quite like eating cinnamon sugar pretzel bites while trying on coats made of exotic animals.

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