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The mall issue: Westfield Fashion Square

November 20, 2011

Location: 14006 Riverside Drive, Sherman Oaks. Just off the 101 Freeway at Woodman Avenue and Riverside Drive.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Mon.-Fri..; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sat.; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sun.

What you'll find: Bloomingdale's and Macy's are the anchor stores here, and both are massive with a great selection of apparel and accessories at all price points. The usual mall stores (Coldwater Creek, Ann Taylor, Express, J. Crew, Forever 21, Zara, Betsey Johnson, Guess, Clarks, Coach, Fossil, Brighton) are here, along with some nice surprises, like an entire Gap Body store selling lingerie and workout clothes. Cebu on Level 2 near Bloomingdale's is sparkle central, with the kind of affordable costume jewelry and purses you'd find downtown in L.A.'s Fashion District. And don't forget the places that can only be entered from outside the mall, on the ground level near the parking structure. There you'll find the cute Lollipop Dreams kids' store and the amazing Nail Garden spa. In fact, there are quite a few stores for kids, including Gymboree, Pumpkin Patch, Janie and Jack, Brooks Shoes and Justice.

Vibe: This mall has a fashion vibe but is also family-friendly.

Survival strategies: Parking can be a challenge at busy times. Sometimes entering the parking lot on Hazeltine Avenue near Bloomingdale's is easiest. Parking outside the food court near the middle of the mall is also a trick.

Take a break: All the regulars are in the food court — Subway, Panda Express, La Salsa, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf — but nothing too exciting.

Holiday cheer: There's a massive tree in the center of the mall, and Santa is on hand for photos through Christmas Eve.

For kids: A new Westfield Playtown play area is now open, with an aquarium and things to climb. Also, the Ladybug Express train toot-toots around the mall, offering rides.

Impressions: This is a manageable, midsized mall on two levels. It's a fun place to stroll, but there are not a lot of places to sit and hang.

—Booth Moore

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