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Traveling Cross Country by Car, we love to visit the local Mall to get the towns flavor

Traveling Cross Country by Car, we love to visit the local Mall to get the towns flavor

Jan 22nd, 2009, 11:01 AM
  #1  
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Traveling Cross Country by Car, we love to visit the local Mall to get the towns flavor

On a recent cross country car trip we really enjoyed the evenings in the various towns we stayed at along the highway. Where did we go? To the closest large indoor shopping mall.

Did we buy anything? No very often other than some food maybe. What we really liked was seeing the real America.

Because I live in the greater Washington DC area, I do not really live in America anymore. Most of the people here were born outside of America. We are mostly foreign born in my town.---- So the cross country trip opened my eyes again to old fashioned America. I loved watching the people in the small towns and it reminded me of what America use to be like coast to coast not so long ago.

When you travel by car cross country do you people watch in the mall like me, or would that bore you?

jet_lagged is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2009, 11:12 AM
  #2  
 
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Seen one, you've seen'em all. I don't even go to the Malls in the town that I do live in. Maybe you should try Wal-Marts next time.
SAnParis2 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2009, 11:35 AM
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I like to find the local restaurants and unique local businesses and attractions. Usually they are not in the mall.

Keith
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Jan 22nd, 2009, 11:45 AM
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I find the malls very generic, and think you're better off looking for local shops and restaurants. I find the local coffee shop/diner is a much better place to get a feel for an area than the mall!
Weadles is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2009, 11:52 AM
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Simon company owns almost all of the malls here in New England. As SanParis said, you've seen one mall you've seen them all.

Unfortunately they do NOT reflect the local culture - quite the opposite. The stores are cookie cutters of the stores at every other mall.

Seek out locally owned boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants.
Jaya is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2009, 11:53 AM
  #6  
mp
 
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Why would you think the "real America" is in small towns? Most Americans actually live in cities. Why perpetuate the myth of small town America being the "real American experience." Smacks of a certain amount of xenophobia, to me.
mp is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2009, 11:55 AM
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"I loved watching the people in the small towns and it reminded me of what America use to be like coast to coast not so long ago."

Before all those darned foreigners showed up, apparently. Sounds like malls are a good option for you if you want generic, bland America.

MikeT is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2009, 11:55 AM
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I think the OP makes an interesting point, that she (or he) enjoyed the people-watching at the malls, not the shopping. Of course the goods are the same stuff you can find anywhere, but the people at the mall aren't generic. I'm not sure I'd choose to spend evenings in malls, but in some towns (where the fabled quaint local hangout doesn't actually exist) I might. I love people-watching, in any case, it would not bore me. Airports are a favorite of mine, public transportation another.
NewbE is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2009, 12:15 PM
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I'm not a mall visitor either - although I do like to people watch. We love going to local fairs and festivals, parks, downtown areas, etc.

As for what America used to be like coast to coast - it has always been a land of immigrants. My grandpa was born and raised in North Dakota - I don't think you get much more "middle America" than North Dakota. When he started the 1st grade, over half the kids didn't speak much English - they were the children of immigrants from Germany, Poland, Sweden, and other places - or the kids were immigrants themselves.
november_moon is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2009, 01:31 PM
  #10  
 
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When possible I like to check out knit shops, quilt shops, Ben Franklin stores, rock shops, junk stores. I look them up on the internet. Lots of fun to be off the interstate for a few minutes and visit with people.

If you are on I80, check out Ole's in the Paxton, Nebraska sand hills. A local restaurant with mucho stuffed animals.
seniormsuedu is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2009, 01:32 PM
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BTW, jet_lagged, wlecome to Fodors travel forums!

Keith
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Jan 22nd, 2009, 07:14 PM
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I don't do malls, but I make an effort to pick up a copy of the local paper to get a flavor for the area. If it's a big city I look for a paper that has a neighborhood focus, sometimes they're free throwaways, but have interesting tidbits on local flavor.
boom_boom is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2009, 01:12 AM
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I wouldn't have chosen a mall in fact I think the local downtown main street is a gauge of the vitality in the area. Agree with other poster who said local knit shops, etc - had a wonderful chat with a quilt shop owner in Skagway AK about how quilters along the Inside Passage visited via ferry for quilting weekends. Also agree with poster about buying local newspapers. This can be fascinating. My next choice would be grocery stores where everyone shops, a better slice of local life than watching 'mall rats'. Who knew there was fresh peach juice in Nova Scotia? Incredible variety of fried foot coatings in southern coastal markets. Interesting fresh herbs in Houston. Even supermarkets in the New England area can be different if they have a large immigrant population. My husband's favorite store to visit is the hardware store if it's in an old building. Another stop is the local variety store. Do they stock Steve's Whoopie Pies? Does the store owner scope our license plate? Does some sweet little southern lady ask us where we are from? (One gift shop lady asked if my husband was a minister because of his genteel manner.)
We've started using Chowhound to help us find the best local eating places.
I wouldn't call it seeing the real America just glimpses of the local character.
dfrostnh is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2009, 03:56 AM
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I find malls across the United States to be almost exactly the same. Even the people seem to be exactly the same, same shops, same mall eateries... depressing.

I remember going to a tiny town in Illinois years ago and their main street had little book stores and dress shops and cafes.. not fancy or posh, but real ( Normal Rockwell-ish) kind of places that are disappearing.

I don't learn anything new from going to a mall in Nebraska or Utah.. I could be in Florida!

DC is not really a town, I get that but it is close to lovely towns with real areas to walk and window shop and people watch..

Even in another country, a mall has the same shops as another mall, same restaurants and wine shops and book stores.. it is much more interesting to walk down a street in town if one wants to just see the "real " whatever city you are in.
Scarlett is offline  

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