Fine, “The Mall at Green Hills.” You win.
I like you.
There is not a single fibre of my being that relishes admitting this fact, but I do. I like you.
You are everything a mall shouldn’t be. You have no food court, no loitering teenagers, no errant puddles of urine in the bathroom, and perhaps the most blasphemous of them all—no Orange Julius. Instead, you have gelato and Republicans. Republicans that carry REAL leather bags. If it weren’t for this cheesy calendar stand, this singular vestige of grubby, ICEE-drenched mall culture among your Tiffany engagement rings and French hand soaps, I would have given up on you altogether.
HOWEVER. I’m glad I didn’t because, despite the fact that you’re about as kid-friendly as the Russian Tea Room, I actually found some pretty amazing gifts for my little dude.
The Mall at Green Hills—which shall henceforth be referred to as the Green Hills Mall because, as far as I can tell, it hasn’t been knighted or anything—is located on Hillsboro Road, smack dab in the middle of—you guessed it—Green Hills. Oft referred to as “the reason for all of that traffic” and “where the Apple Store is,” the mall is frequented by ladies-who-lunch, aspiring musicians with broken laptops, people like me—skeptics lured in by the deep Restoration Hardware couches and jaunty holiday music. While I normally leave broken-hearted, knowing that I’ll never have a wine filled globe the size of Saturn’s fourth moon:
This time was different. I left perfectly, blissfully satisfied. If you fellow skeptics are scratching your chins in disbelief, read on.
It’s true that the Green Hills Mall is maybe…a little…upscale. The stores have people names instead of store names, and they have one of the most intimidating security “mallitias” I have ever seen.
Yes, they have the ritziest of the ritzy, Jimmy Choo (a place I like to call, BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! How much?!?!) and Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors, but there is some balance. They also have a GAP and that delightful calendar kiosk we were admiring earlier. You’ll also find the standard kiddie fare: Gymboree, Janie and Jack, Stride Rite etc.
Friends, I urge you to skip out on the old favorites; the best stuff for your tot is tucked away in unexpected places.
Here Are My Top Picks:
- Yesterday, I found half of a petrified grilled cheese in my laundry hamper, and my toddler threw a roll of stamps in the toilet. This first pick is for your mental health.
If you feel like your life is falling apart, even just a little bit, take five minutes and walk through The Container Store. All will be right with your world again, I promise. The place is just so neat and tidy and angular. And perfect. And peaceful. It’s a bloody Japanese zen garden. I kid you not.
- Most people think Restoration Hardware is just another great spot to waste $200 on a galvanized trash bin called “The Covington,” but come Christmas time, it is a great spot to find stocking stuffers and great old-school gifts that aren’t covered in Elmos. Check it out:
If you really enjoy your not-buying-furniture-at-a-furniture-store experience at Resto, head on over to Z Gallerie for hilarious and adorable kid lit!
Last but not least: Pottery Barn Kids—probably my favorite place to not buy furniture.
The toys here are absolutely beautiful, and while I won’t spend more than $40 on a pair of shoes, I will drop some serious Alexander Hamiltons on the right set of plush stacking rings.
As you can see, our Santa experience at Green Hills was…errrr…missing a little something. Wilder and I arrived at approximately 2:15pm a whole quarter hour after Papa Christmas was expected to return from lunch. We waited for a few minutes, watching a herd of glittery electronic reindeer rotate on stands and marvelling over the sheer amount of red velvet at Santa HQ, but eventually, we gave up because we were less than 20 feet from free toffee samples.
Maybe the old fella got hot mustard in his beard, or maybe he got stuck behind a dawdling Camry in that infamous Green Hills traffic like the rest of do (there’s no sleigh lane, you know). Either way, it would be awfully naughty of me not to give him the benefit of the doubt.
I’m not sure if Santa ever made it back to his fluffy red stoop; but if he did, I definitely recommend checking it out. The set up is plenty picturesque for a holiday snap, and they have some downright smoking photo deals. The packages start at $22 and all include a Shutterfly promo card worth at least $10.
There are some people in this world who like nice things. They like tablecloths and salad forks and steamed sea creatures with wedges of lemon. Some people even like knowledgeable wait staff. I, for example, like all of those things—especially if our tiny crustacean friends happen to ride into town on the back of seared New York Strip. When I’m in a mall, however, I want an ill-constructed sandwich thrown at me by a seventeen year old fast food worker who is simultaneously texting his girlfriend and manning the fry basket. I want to consume said sandwich in a giant room filled with frustrated shoppers and their overtired children. I want a food court. I’m not sure whether it’s the speed, the price, or the twisted element of collective misery; but to me, it’s an integral part of the retail experience.
The Green Hills Mall is food courtless. If you listen closely, you can hear my teeth rattling in my bottom jaw as it hits the ground.
Despite the fact that they neglected to put a Burger King beside the Burberry, the dining options here are pretty great. Pretty much all of the options are child-friendly and affordable.
I always go with the old stand-by—Panera. Everything is healthy, they have wi-fi, and you can grab your very well constructed sandwich to-go if you’re in a mad shopping rush. My little guy loves their grilled cheese and squeezable yogurt combo.
On those days when a) I’m pregnant or b) feeling entirely too thin (HA!) I grab one of these.
Can we really call this a slice, Cheesecake Factory? It’s bigger than the possum that lives in my recycling bin.
If you want something sweet but aren’t interested in consuming a large street rodent’s weight in cheesecake, head over to Bravo Gelato. It’s just like ice cream but healthier and with more international flair.
They also have a few dining options outside the mall if you need a little breather.
Well, they’ve got a movie theatre and a whole bunch of these:
If that doesn’t cut it, they have this puzzle at Gap Kids.
The Green Hills Mall clearly isn’t messing around. You come here to shop, people, not release your squirming children into an enclosed space with other squirming children.
I can totally respect their point of view: buy some things, eat some things, and vamoose. It cuts down on unnecessary mall traffic, messes, and piercing toddler shrieks (they upset the Jimmy Choo shoes, ya know), but on those days when your keys/credit cards/phone have migrated to the dark and scary parts of the diaper bag, it’s nice to have a place to set the tot down while you ride out the “I lost my ____” panic attack hell storm.
The, ahem, “Mall AT Green Hills” has, at one point or another, caused all we frugal Nashvillians to roll our eyes and raise our tallest fingers (but not in front of the kids, of course)b but I’m telling you—really, this place is pretty outstanding. If you can look deep inside yourself and get past the fact that there are $800 shoes for sale there, you will have a wonderful, relaxing, and deliciously quiet shopping experience. In fact, I would like to formally rescind any birds that I happened to clumsily flip in the direction of said particular establishment.
Green Hills Mall, even without a Santa or rebellious youth peddling soft serve, I like you. It kills me. But I like you.