Outside, along the sheltered portals, Native American craftspeople assemble daily and display their work. Expect Apache, Navajo and representatives of the various New Mexico Pueblo tribes. It's my favorite place in America for buying artwork directly from the people responsible for its creation.
Most commonly seen articles are jewelry, especially pieces featuring turquoise. Our own interest happens to be pottery. Different tribes each have their own special techniques. I'm particularly partial to the highly polished black bowls made at Santa Clara Pueblo, San Ildefonso Pueblo and elsewhere. Leather work is also frequently displayed.
Two caveats. Navajo rugs are unlikely to be sold along the portal. Several nearby galleries offer these for sale. Don't expect bargains. The Palace also includes a display of early printing presses and binding equipment. Blank books with marbleized covers made here would also be unique gifts.
Let's pretend I'm finishing up my shopping but still have a few random items left on my list. One place where I'm likely to find virtually anything else I might be seeking is the Mall of America, near Minneapolis and St. Paul in Bloomington, Minn.
Until 1982, the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings played their games at Metropolitan Stadium. When a new stadium was completed in downtown Minneapolis, developers purchased this 78-acre property and built the country's largest mall. It opened in 1992. Forty percent of the annual visitors are tourists, including many from Europe.
Here's what I mean by largest mall. Soaring spaces and high rooftops, lots of steel and chrome, plenty of elevators and escalators. More than 500 stores, from Macy's and Sears to Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom. Fifty-plus restaurants. A Nickelodeon Universe theme park. Carousel, roller coaster, water slides and other rides. A million-gallon aquarium.
Specialty stores purvey almost every item imaginable — two dozen shoe stores, Lids (hats and caps), Wallet World, Malibu Shades (one of several places for designer sunglasses), Sox Appeal and even one solely devoted to Mall of America souvenirs.