Shopping at the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, USA - OCTOBER 20 : Fashion Show Mall on October 20, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. One of the largest enclosed malls in the world with over 250 stores

You can’t miss Fashion Show Mall, because it has a flying saucer. Well, not a real one, but the 480-foot slanted, dish-like canopy known as “The Cloud” sure does look like it belongs in Roswell instead of the Strip.

The Cloud can’t fly you to Mars, it can advertise to you like gangbusters. Like much of Vegas, the aluminum surface of the Cloud is a giant media screen, flashing announcements, videos, and pitches for products, shows, and stores. The shade it provides over the mall plaza is pretty welcome in the hot months, so if you don’t want to be advertised to with bright lights, be prepared to sweat … or, you know, catch the first flight out of Vegas.

Inside the mall, enjoy nearly two million square feet of retail heaven, with over 250 stores or kiosks and twenty-five restaurants. Built in 1981 during the heyday of mall culture, this mall is anchored by venerable brands Nordstrom (three glorious levels), Macy’s, Dillard’s, Neiman Marcus, and Sak’s Fifth Avenue. For the more budget-conscious, there’s a two-level Forever 21 with 126,000 square feet of bargains to go nuts over.

Speaking of budget concerns, in a city where “cheap eats” is an oxymoron, the Fashion Show Mall food court will be a breath of fresh air conditioning. There’s no shame in skipping $18 breakfast buffets and heading instead to Crazy Wrap Grill, where $5.99 gets you two eggs, bacon or sausage, potatoes, and toast or a bagel. If this sounds like good early morning munchies after a night of not-sleeping, you will find no judgment here. If you stay at the Wynn, the Venetian, or Treasure Island, direct-access bridges and escalators that allow you to skip street crossings make this an especially attractive option.

Face it, though — this is a mall. A big beautiful mall, but a mall nonetheless, a time capsule of Cold War-era consumerism and conformity. If you want quirky local flavor (such as it is in Vegas) it is not to be found here. It’s all chain stores and restaurants, albeit with some harder-to-find and upscale chains, including Free People (hippie chic), Pinto Ranch (western chic), and Zara (European chic). Cuisine options range from Wendy’s to the Capital Grille and everything in between.

If anything makes the Fashion Show Mall unique (besides the flying saucer), it’s the namesake central plaza with its 80-foot retractable catwalk. Go on the right weekend, and fashion models will be strutting the runway, demonstrating couture that happens to be for sale a stone’s throw away. I hope you brought your credit card.

 

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