Had an errand to run at Mall of America, a new store to see (Bling Apparel) at Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove and two kids to drag with me. I opted for Arbor Lakes this evening, mainly because it was a beautiful night and I thought it would be nice to stroll outside between stores and cap the outing with ice cream. Arbor Lakes is filled with popular chains and does boast a few local boutiques like Goodthings and Bluebird. The sidewalks are clean. The flowers are pretty. The piped in Sirius radio music that follows you everywhere is weird – and but one symptom of this center’s identity confusion. On real city streets, the sounds you hear come from people around you – chaos, horns, street musicians. If you want to create the feel of a town center, don’t act like a mall. I would have stayed longer, but after running my errands and stopping to let my boys observe the fountain for a few moments, there wasn’t anything to do. Where are the street entertainers? No, they’re probably not going to just show up way out in the burbs – but truck ‘em in. Lots of people want an audience. They should have live music every weekend evening on that plaza. How about a juggler? Or some artists displaying their work. Where are the sidewalk cafes that don’t face the parking lot? And since this is family central, why not create an outdoor play area – give Dad and the kid a place to frolic so Mom can linger in the stores. Instead, we piled back in the car and crossed the four (eight?) lane road, parked in the massive lot behind the faux Main Street and went to Coldstone Creamery. I couldn’t finish mine. Ice cream tastes better in the city.