Weekend at an Outdoor Shopping Mall
Clay Terrace Outdoor Mall
You might think a day of shopping is boring not so when the mall you shop at is in a beautiful outdoor setting with trees, flowers, a park, a children's playground and more shops and restaurants than you can possibly visit.
That is only a partial description of Clay Terrace, an outdoor shopping mall in my hometown of Carmel, Indiana.
The official description of this town square style shopping mall is "open air Lifestyle Center." Whatever anyone calls it, Clay Terrace has it all.
Many cities are changing their approach to outdoor malls, often called strip malls. The new outdoor malls are being built in park-like settings that offer more than a shopping experience.
Not many of the nation's new outdoor malls, however, offer as pleasurable an environment as Clay Terrace.
Photos: Taken by designsbysharriet or my husband.
Relax While Your Children Play
Shopping with children can be very difficult, especially when all the mall has to offer is one commercial shop after another.
Even when an indoor mall has areas where children can play it, is never as much fun as an outdoor playground.
Clay Terrace has a very well thought out fenced in and landscaped playground, where the children can play on a variety of equipment, all made of a durable plastic-like material which will last a long time without showing wear.
There is a slide, a seesaw, a climber and several different shaped, themed single seats that spring up and down on which children can ride.
Outside and inside the fence are benches for adults to rest and watch the children.
Also a Place for Entertainment
The park at Clay Terrace has benches, flowers, plants and a fountain. It is located in the center of the mall and is near, but separated from, a variety of restaurants and shops.
The setting is a peaceful and quiet oasis in the middle of a bustling shopping center.
On some occasions, especially during the holidays, you may find concerts in the park.
During those times crowds sing and dance along with the band, turning the park into an entertainment area.
Views - Landscape and StreetClick thumbnail to view full-size
Some of the Best in Town
Clay Terrace has some of the best restaurants in Indianapolis.
There are upscale restaurants like Kincaids American Grill, Mitchell's Fish Market, and Kona Grill. There are also casual restaurants like Ted's Montana Grill, Tony Sacco's Pizza, Red Robin, and Paradise Bakery and Cafe.
There are a total of 14 restaurants in Clay Terrace. Most of them offer outdoor seating.
You probably know that my husband and I do not eat out often, and when we do we choose healthy or unusual in some way. That is what we opted for when we ate lunch at Clay Terrace.
We ate at a French inspired restaurant called Petite Chou, which bills itself as a bistro and champagne bar. This is a local eatery run by a very entrepreneurial woman with a vision and taste for great food. The restaurant has a nice view both inside and outside. Great decor is the owners specialty.
But no one eats decor, so let's move to what's on the menu. Since Petite Chou specializes in French inspired fare you will find tartines, open-faced sandwiches served on toasted country bread, croque sandwiches, traditional French grilled ham and cheese sandwiches served on brioche and, of course, crepes and omelettes.
If those choices are a little too French for your taste, this restaurant has soups and salads, some traditional some unique.
Petite Chou serves champagne, of course, also red and white wines and beer.
My husband and I ordered tartines, turkey and tuna salad. They came with a side salad and were delicious. We skipped dessert this time, but the restaurant offers different desserts on their blackboard each day, all locally baked.
This enjoyable lunch was served to us outside, but I took a photo of the inside to show you the decor.
Petite Chou Inside Dining Room
I was having so much fun, I almost forgot the shopping, which can easily become a secondary experience at Clay Terrace.
There are about 75 shops at this Mall, which sell men's and women's apparel, home furnishings, shoes, sporting goods, jewelry, children's apparel and toys, food, candles, kitchenware and more. There are 18 specialty shops and 8 service shops including a spa and a yoga center.
I went to purchase a low cut boot at DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse, my favorite shoe store. I love the freedom to try on every shoe in the place without seeing a sales person, and I think their shoes are stylish and lower priced than regular shoe stores.
I also purchased a pair of ankle length pants at Ann Taylor, which were the latest style of prints. Mine are either animal or camouflage. I am not quite sure, but they fit great.
That was my shopping trip. Most of our time was spent wandering around the mall and enjoying the scenery, since it was a beautiful, and not too hot, sunny day.
Clay Terrace - Shops and Views
The more you see of Clay Terrace the more you get the picture.
Clay Terrace Statistics
570,000 Square Feet
Outdoor vs Indoor Shopping Malls - Which Do You Prefer
Do you prefer outdoor or indoor malls