The best thing about American Malls around Thanksgiving season is the smell. It is the fragrance of the sweet-spicy special edition candles sold in the home-stores and the aroma of the pumpkin spice pancake mixes you find in the food-stores. It is the Autumnal scent of the reds, oranges and browns. I'm not sure if it's just me, but I can swear the smell of cinnamon permeates the Shopping Centres – the smell of Thanksgiving and the promise of Christmas just around the corner. What a time it is to be around the Malls, and it was a day in November that I visited the Mall of Georgia.
The huge, spacious food court
Opened in 1999, the Mall remains today the largest Shopping Centre in the State of Georgia. For a Mall with only three levels, it packs a huge number of great stores inside, over 200, and the outside of the Centre belies how big it actually is when you're inside. The scale is massive. It seemed to have more anchor stores than I could count, but as far as I could tell the main stores are the Dillard's and a huge JC Penney. There are a great variety of stores; it is a particularly well-balanced Mall. For books there is a Barnes & Noble, for tech there is a Best Buy and Apple Store, for fashion you have Armani, Guess, Clarks as well as many other more boutique stores. There are also many sporting goods and lifestyle stores.
The Mall fans off in all directions
The food court is of particular interest. Unusually, as you walk into the main entrance of the Mall of Georgia, you find yourself in the food court. This makes it incredibly easy to have a pre-float DQ ice-cream or milkshake, as is often my wont! The food court space is magical; you could honestly fly a helicopter through it and wouldn't ruffle a single shoppers' hair. It is also beautifully decorated with plenty of greenery and, because there is so much space, you never get the feeling your are packed in so tightly that you could hear the next table chewing if you focussed. The choice you have is also great, lots of American goodies like Taco Bell, Chic-fil-A (the chicken biscuit has changed my life) and Red Robin. There are also a large variety of Asian-style eateries – Little Tokyo is fantastic. There are a number of proper sit-down restaurants in and around the Mall. One note though, try to eat before 12pm or after about 2pm – it's crazy between these times.
Disney Store! Yay!
The cookie stand to end all cookie stands!
I am not usually one for leaving the cosy bosom of a Mall partway through a visit, but there is also a wonderful outdoor section. There is an amphitheatre where local acts can perform to the crowds. The theatre is surrounded by park-space where people can sit on the manicured grass and listen. It is highly convivial and I imagine in the Georgian Summer heat it is something of which the local residents' can be hugely fond.
The outside area has a large fountain which comes straight from ground level so that kids can run through and enjoy themselves. They also have events such a fireworks, laser shows and even drive-in movies. It's a very family friendly setting. Back in the Mall, kids can also enjoy a ride on the full sized carousel they have. The movie theatre is also fantastic, featuring 20 screens, including Regal RPX, RPX Real 3D and IMAX 3D screens.
The Mall features an unbeatable outdoor area
We have only so far visited two Malls in Georgia, Mall of Georgia and Perimeter Mall, but both have had customer service of note. American customer service is always a shock for foreign nationals visiting the Country, maybe not so much so in Cities such as New York (you just gotta toughen up a bit in the big Cities - the secret is to become a little New York yourself when you're there!) but in Georgia this seems to be especially the case – everyone is so frikkin' friendly in the Mall! And it's not just the service staff, the general public are also so friendly and will always strike up a jolly conversation once they hear an accent.
That being said, I don't think this is a great revelation, Georgians are well known for their hospitality. This makes even the most crowded time in the afternoon seem more cosy than frustrating.
To wrap up, the Mall of Georgia is spotlessly clean, beautifully air conditioned and there is so much to do. There are many bubbly, happy characters everywhere and the shopping is varied and plentiful. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who will listen. There is plenty to do around the Atlanta area, we especially recommend the World of Coca Cola, but definitely take the time to go and spend a day at the Mall of Georgia, you will not leave a) unhappy, b) empty-handed or c) hungry. Mallrate Silver Award!
Address: 3333 Buford Drive, Buford, GA 30519, USA
Contact: 770 271 9458
Number of Stores: Over 200
Number of Levels: 3
Opening Times: Monday - Saturday 10h00 to 21h00, Sunday 12h00 to 18h00