Friday, August 19, 2011

Mall at Milennia for Kidz!

Welcome to Orlando's premiere shopping destination, Mall at Milennia. Think it's too fancy for kids? Think again. There's enough to keep them happily entertained for hours. Without lines or gate charges!

Park near the Mall at Milennia food court upstairs or Neiman Marcus downstairs.  Why?  Great fountains in both places!  Plus the best central locations with lots of spaces. Don't make the usual visitor mistake and park by Macys, which is always bustling, but stuck at the end of the less interesting and upscale side of Mall of Milennia.

Upstairs by the doors in the center of Mall at Milennia, there is a large outdoor fountain and then, voila, you are in a huge food court. There are immense, clean bathrooms on your left with changing tables and room for strollers. Plus full length mirrors that are fun for toddlers to watch themselves in!  If older kids or men are waiting for the rest of the family, they can sit on comfy benches outside the restrooms and play with their cell phones.

If you park downstairs, walk to the right of Neiman Marcus, past the outside patio of Brio restaurant to the bank of doors and enter here. (Neiman Marcus is not kid friendly, despite the great service, it's just too quiet!) Inside these doors you'll find a gorgeous long fountain with a small bridge through it. There's lots of seating on the flat granite on the side of the fountain and kids are always running around. It's prime people watching, too.

If you have a little money to spend and aren't in a hurry, put your name on the waiting list at Cheesecake Factory. One person can stay and wait while the others do whatever. Kids of all ages LOVE this restaurant. The menu is extensive, the food is delicious and the desserts are amazing. It's noisy and fun, perfect for large multi-generational groups.

Brio is also bustling; and the food is very good. An upscale experience with an open kitchen, white tablecloths and attentive service at the same prices as Cheesecake factory. More bistro than Italian, there's also a nice bar here if someone wants to catch the game or just needs a break.  If you're a healthy eater, you'll find wonderful chicken (a house specialty), fish and salads here. Locals love Brio for casual meals. Sit outside if the weather is nice.

Past the downstairs fountain are stairs, elevators and escalators to the Mall at Milennia food court above. You'll find Starbucks upstairs and downstairs.

Upstairs, at the entrance to the Mall at Milennia food court are two VERY child-friendly, reasonably- priced restaurants, Panera Bread on the right and California Pizza Kitchen on the left.  Panera has great pastries and bagels, which they toast on request and sandwiches/soup. Plus very good coffee. California Pizza Kitchen has, well, pizza, and other good lunch or casual dinner fare.

Looking for free food to fill up hungry pre-teens? They'll love walking the Mall at Milennia food court to get free bourbon and sesame chicken samples. Sometimes they can get smoothies, cookies and garlic bread too! It's fun and filling.

For a quick sweet treat for all, hit the Lindt store inside the mall, just past the Mall at Milennia food court. With a great selection of individual pieces of chocolate and chocolate bars, satisfy everyone for a ridiculously small amount of money. Gift shopping? Snag a charming seasonal gift or cute wrapped item (Santa, Bunny, etc.) to add to a basket or wrapped package.

Mall at Milennia stores kids love

Here's a list to get you started. Add your faves.

Game Stop for video games, FYE for popular culture items, including music, videos, posters, etc., the Apple store for... Apple, the Sony store for... Sony, Urban Outfitters for cheap accessories and room gear

Cool Clothes
Guess, Hollister, Bebe, Juicy Couture, Anthropology, Bloomingdales, Pink at the huge Victorias Secret, Urban Outfitters (again), Forever 21 (immense store!)

Williams Sonoma for kids that cook (and free samples), Museum Store for smart kids, Pottery Barn Kids, Brookstone

Special note
Dylan's Candy Bar in Bloomingdales (Ground Floor to right of inside mall entrance) is fun for everyone!

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