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Top 10 Outdoor Shopping and Dining Destinations in the U.S.

By Jaxie Pidgeon | Good Life Family Magazine

Enclosed malls were already seeing weak traffic prior to the pandemic due to the shift to online selling and struggles at department store anchors. With the spread of COVID-19, all signs point to the new normal being about lessening risk by taking precautions like wearing masks, socially distancing and spending as much time out of doors as possible. That’s set to be a boon to open-air shopping destinations that provide a safer space for people to congregate to shop and enjoy dining and entertainment options.

Over the past two decades, forward-thinking retail real estate developers have invested in ‘lifestyle centers’ that include residential and work environments, creating an ‘uptown’ vibe complete with a plethora of amenities, experiences and entertainment to enhance the shopping experience. Some include full-service concierge and expanded curbside pick-up.  Most are still anchored by major retail stores, but now the emphasis is on incorporating trendy local restaurants and bars with expanded outdoor seating, outdoor fitness classes and free outdoor entertainment. 

 “Today’s shoppers are looking for more than just what’s available on a website. They want an experience,” says Debra Martinez, Marketing Director for Watters Creek in Allen, TX. 

Here are some of Good Life Family Magazine’s favorite outdoor shopping destinations in the U.S.

1300 1st St
Napa, CA 94559

First Street Napa is a collection of the valley’s innovative merchants, chefs and tasting rooms in the heart of downtown Napa – walkable, engaging and invigorating. The focus here is on smaller independent and local boutiques like Maker’s Market, Kalifornia Jean Bar and Macbella, which offer a unique mix of west coast artisanal products, premium denim and clothing, as well as European designers. Some of the unique dining destinations include: Napastäk, an Armenian epicurean boutique that has tasty scones and specialty coffees as well as Compline with Mediterranean-inspired dishes from Executive Chef, Jammir Gray.


First Street Napa (courtesy of trademarkproperty.com)

970 Garden Park Dr
Allen, TX 75013

Watters Creek is a resort-inspired shopping destination and features some of the most sought-after lifestyle retailers like Kendra Scott, Anthropologie, Vera Bradley and more. Strolling through the streets, you’ll see fitness-conscience patrons enjoying outdoor yoga and fitness classes, hear the peaceful sounds from the flowing creek that winds throughout the center, and feel a relaxed vacation vibe as you shop their trendy national and local retailers and dine at top-known restaurants with stellar outdoor seating. This is a family friendly place, with free concerts on the rolling Green, several playground areas, pet adoption sites (an off-leash dog park coming soon) and plentiful outdoor seating areas, including an outdoor fireplace.


Watters Creek (courtesy of trademarkproperty.com)

377 Santana Row
San Jose, CA 95128

It’s hard to choose which is more enjoyable—Santana Row’s extraordinary design and architecture or the top-notch service and style (which many other centers have emulated), including loaning out portable cell phone chargers and umbrellas for customers. Shoppers indulge in a world-class mix of brands, cutting-edge boutiques and culinary craft. Santana Row offers brand name shops, local boutiques, restaurants, 36 establishments serving food, and nine spas and salons, a theater, and a hotel. In the outdoor parks and plazas, you’ll enjoy live music and outdoor yoga classes as well.


Santana Row

4 S Market St
Boston, MA 02109

Located in downtown Boston, steps away from the waterfront, Faneuil Hall is as alive today as it was in 1742 when our nation’s fathers proclaimed it “The Cradle of Liberty.” Over 70 retailers and 40 office tenants occupy Boston’s iconic mixed-use festival marketplace. Customers enjoy unique, locally loved, and nationally recognized shops while indulging in the worldwide cuisine at restaurants, pubs, and in the world-famous Quincy Market Colonnade. 


Faneuil Hall Marketplace

1275 Broadway Plaza
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

The crown jewel of East Bay, Broadway Plaza is an open-air shopping destination is acknowledged for its breathtaking exterior, which includes world class landscaping and European-styled fountains. With more than 80 nationally known and locally-owned shops, services and restaurants, this al fresco shopping destination is perfect for shopping, strolling and dining. They even offer a Kids Club where children can learn about creating a healthy planet. And, their concierge will help you plan a date night.


Broadway Plaza (courtesy of macerich.com)

4706 Broadway Blvd
Kansas City, MO 64112

Regarded as the Crown Jewel of the Midwest, Country Club Plaza is a mixed-use destination featuring 15 blocks of best-in-class retail, exclusive boutiques and gourmet dining. Shoppers will find over 120 shops and 25 dining options, including 40 local merchants, trendy designer boutiques and beloved restaurants and cafes, such as Kaldi’s Coffee and Gram and Dun. During the holidays, patrons come from all over to enjoy Plaza Lights, the glimmering light display that adorns the Spanish architecture, which has been a local tradition for the past 90 years.


Country Club Plaza (courtesy of Taubman)

189 The Grove Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90036

With its versatile collection of stores and ever-changing pop-up shops, The Grove delivers a dynamic shopping experience. And, your dining choices at The Grove are as diverse as your cravings, from mouthwatering steaks to delightful macarons, fresh sushi to alfresco Italian, family style to romantic bistro. Whether you want to shop ‘til you drop or grab dinner with friends, this stunning locale won’t disappoint.


The Grove

Geneva, IL 60134

Geneva, Illinois is a shopper’s paradise. From the historic downtown to Geneva Commons, the city boasts over 100 specialty shops, many in historic storefronts and charming Victorian-style homes. With each new season, Geneva merchants fill their shops with exclusive treasures from all over the world. The plethora of local boutiques and dining options offer entertainment for the day or even a week-long trip.


Geneva, Illinois (courtesy of city of Geneva)

4545 La Jolla Village Dr
San Diego, CA 92122

Anchored by Nordstrom and Macy’s, Westfield UTC delivers the quintessential San Diego experience at this iconic, open-air shopping, dining and entertainment destination. With more than 200 shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, Westfield UTC also features the “Palm Plaza” event and gathering space with fountain, soft seating, firepits and LED screen.


Westfield UTC (courtesy of wwd.com)

3699 McKinney Ave
Dallas, TX 75204

West Village was designed by nationally known architect, David M. Schwarz & Associates of Washington, D.C. With 42 carefully selected shops, restaurants, and the Magnolia Art House Cinema, the West Village District has grown organically over the past 17 years. Located in the center of Dallas’ most dynamic neighborhood – Uptown, West Village is often referred to as, “Uptown’s Downtown – Dallas’ most walk-able shopping, dining, residential and entertainment district.” The urban nature of West Village affords its visitors direct access to the DART Rail, the Historic McKinney Avenue Trolley and the Katy Trail. Community events happen non-stop in the district, including the annual week-long Dallas International Film Festival.


West Village Dallas (courtesy of visitdallas.com)

Editor’s Note: Did we miss your favorite open-air shopping center? We want to hear from you!
Email Tricia White, Managing Editor at tricia@goodlifefamilymag.com.

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