Mall shopping is as American as apple pie.
If you’re heading to the United States (USA), outlet mall shopping is something you need to experience. Australian families will be gobsmacked by the outrageous bargains on fashion, shoes and toys.
An American outlet mall is so much more than cut-price goods. It is a destination, a place for people to hang-out, packed with entertainment options, restaurants and even day spas.
Not all US malls are the same. Our hot tip, for the best shopping experience, is to seek out a Simon centre.
Simon call their centres “shopping destinations” for a reason. These are the malls your friends rave about when they come back with a suitcase filled with shoes and say they spent an entire day at the mall. Because you can spend an entire day here. And love every minute of it.
Simon has more than 100 shopping destinations across the US. You will find them in and around major destinations such as LA, Honolulu and Orlando.
Be warned you may need to buy an extra suitcase to get your loot back to Australia.
Simon has a mall for every style, every itinerary and every budget. For families, Simon’s centres strike the right balance between retail therapy and action-packed adventure. Yes, adventure in a mall. Some have skate parks, waterparks and even high ropes challenges. At one you can even ride a mechanical bull.
The shopping centres are split into three different kinds.
Simon Premium Outlets offer power shopping with savings of up to 65 per cent off retail prices. Simon Mills are “like outlets on steroids” combined with family fun and Simon Malls combine upscale dining and shopping.
Here’s our wrap of the best 8 Simon Shopping Destinations in the USA so you can add them to your itinerary.
Shopping destinations can be found all over the USA. These are our favourite.
This beautiful open-air centre is only a few minutes from Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It has more than 120 stores with fantastic savings of up to 70 per cent off every day.
Brands include Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, GAP, H&M, a Bloomingdale’s Outlet, Nordstrom Rack, Neiman Marcus Last Call, and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH.
But the real reason why this Simon Mills store is brilliant for families is its vast entertainment offering. The Outlets at Orange has one of the largest indoor skate parks in Southern California – Vans SkatePark. You can rent boards and equipment or even take private lessons.
Head to the Thrill It Fun Center and you can play laser tag, try rock-climbing, ride a mechanical bull or test your nerves on the high ropes course. The mall also has a bowling alley and a luxurious day spa.
With a massive 350 stores to explore, Sawgrass Mills is the largest outlet, retail and entertainment destination in the United States. Stores include Coach, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren and Prada.
One of the highlights of Sawgrass Mills is the life-size Barbie House. “Barbie – The Dreamhouse Experience” is a massive 930 square meter interactive Barbie house where kids can explore Barbie’s living areas. Get glammed up and pretend to be Barbie with a VIP makeover or take a twirl on the fashion runway.
Another great spot for kids is the Game Room. The huge center has arcade games, simulators and attractions, a restaurant and a sports bar.
Ontario is California’s largest outlet and retail shopping destination. It has more than 200 stores, including a LEGO store, a Disney Store Outlet and a huge Build-a-Bear shop.
One of the most popular attractions here is the Rainforest Cafe which serves American fare and cocktails amid jungle flora and animatronic animals. Ontario Mills also has one of the best comedy clubs in America. Live stand-up performances and open mic nights are held daily.
North Texas’ largest outlet and retail shopping destination, Grapevine Mills has 180 retail, entertainment, and restaurant spaces to explore.
But the kids will always remember it for the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre which has 15 different rides and attractions including a 4D cinema and LEGO factory tour. Head on over to Pirate Beach and you will find a huge LEGO water playground with slides, jets and fountains and squirt cannons. Make sure you don’t leave without creating your own custom LEGO brick.
At the SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium families can wander through dozens of display tanks are filled with thousands of sea creatures, including a giant octopus, reef sharks, green sea turtles and stingrays.
The largest shopping mall in San Diego, Fashion Valley is a lush oasis of green living walls, gorgeous palm trees and trickling fountains. Here you will find more than 200 stores, including Burberry, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tory Burch and Zara.
To keep the kids entertained head to the Disney Store, LEGO store, Build-a-Bear workshop or Gepetto’s.
Woodbury has the largest collection of designer outlets in the world. Among the 220 outlets stores you will find bargains in Armani, Burberry, Gucci and Prada.
The centre has plenty of shade, free WiFi and real-American hospitality with brand ambassadors on-hand to assist shoppers.
The Forum Shops are connected to Caesars Palace, the famous luxury hotel and casino in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip.
It offers a luxury shopping experience unlike anything else in the world with more than 160 specialty shops and restaurants, featuring the world’s most exclusive brands, such as Cartier, Dior, Emporio Armani, Jimmy Choo and Versace.
Waikele is well-known to many Australians as the best outlet centre in Hawaii. Just 30 minutes from Waikiki you will find serious bargains on Armani Brands including Emporio Armani, Armani Collezioni and Armani Jeans. Kids will love the Adidas store, Sketches and Converse.
One last tip: If you have a particular brand that you kids love search for it on the Simon website. It will pull up all of the stores at every Simon centre in the nation. That way, you can plan exactly which mall you should visit.
Want more USA? Check out these stories before you go.
Janeece Keller is the founder and editor of Family Travel. She mostly travels with her husband and two young kids. She has a large blended family that lives in Australia and Europe. She has visited 52 countries and lived on 3 continents. From camping to luxury resorts Janeece tries to make sure her family has diverse holiday experiences each year. She is an avid hiker and ocean swimmer who loves good food, margaritas and heading off the beaten path.