The term ‘mall’ is actually of American origin to address any large shopping center. It was initially intended for shops that are situated along a pedestrian promenade, but by the mid 20th century, it began to be used as a generic term for large enclosed shopping centers.
In the 21st century, while countless malls have declined since their boom in the 1980s and 90s, several large shopping malls have managed to survive and succeed in the modern era of consumerism.
Today, we’ll talk about the biggest malls in America by gross leasable area. But before we get started with the list, here are some of the terms that you must get familiarized with –
Types of Shopping Malls
According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), the global trade association for the retail real estate industry, there are two types of malls in America – regional mall and super-regional
Regional mall: The ICSC defines any shopping center as a regional mall with a gross leasable area of between 400,000 square feet (sq ft) and 800,000 sq ft. It also includes at least two anchor stores.
Super-regional mall: In the United States, any shopping mall with a gross leasable area of over 800,000 sq ft with at least three anchor stores and the only mall of such size in about 25 miles is classified as a super-regional mall.
Any shopping mall below 400,000 sq ft gross leasable area can be classified either as a community shopping center, neighborhood shopping center, or convenience store.
Anchor tenants: An anchor tenant, also known as an anchor store, is a tenant in a shopping mall (usually a retail chain or a department store) occupying a substantially larger area. Department stores such as Macy’s JCPenney and Nordstrom are some examples of anchor tenants in the United States.
Gross leasable area: The amount of floor space available for rent in a shopping mall or any commercial property is called Gross leasable area or GLA. In the United States and Canada, the GLA is measured in square feet.
Below is our list of the largest and biggest mall in America.
11. Westfield Valley Fair
Westfield south valet entrance (on Steven’s Creek Boulevard) | Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Located at: San Jose, California
Gross leasable area: 2.2 million sq ft
Westfield Valley Fair, or simply Valley Fair, is the 3rd largest shopping mall in California and the 12th largest in America. It is the most successful shopping mall in California with the highest sales revenue despite having only the 3rd most area in the state.
Valley Fair has about 236 stores and several famous restaurants and eateries. It has four anchor tenants, including Nordstrom, two Macy’s stores, and a newly inaugurated three-level 150,000 square foot Bloomingdale store. Westfield Valley Fair was inaugurated in 1986, and it replaced two smaller shopping centers built in the 1950s.
The mall has gone through two major expansions in the last two decades. The first expansion took place in 2007 with the inclusion of Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s as anchor tenants and an increase of gross leasable area to 2 million sq ft. The second expansion was announced in 2015, including the new three-story Bloomingdale’s department store and an additional 500,000 sq ft interior space for new shops.
10. Ala Moana Center
Image Courtesy: Brookfield Properties
Located at: Ala Moana, Honolulu
Gross leasable area: 2.2 million sq ft
Unlike other shopping malls on this list, which are enclosed, Honolulu’s Ala Moana Center is an open-air shopping mall and the largest such complex in the world. The Center was inaugurated on August 13, 1959, with no more than ninety stores and became the largest shopping mall in the U.S. for a short period.
Today, the mall has about 350 stores, several restaurants, and an amphitheater, known as ‘Centerstage.’ It hosts more than 800 performances a year and a daily Hula show. There are eight tenants, including Bloomingdales, Marshalls, Macy’s Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Ross Dress for Less, Target, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Ala Moana Center constantly ranks as one of the most profitable malls in the country based on revenue per square footage. According to a 2009 report by U.S. News & World Report, Ala Moana Center was the second most profitable mall in the United States with annual sales of over $1 billion.
9. Sawgrass Mills
Located at: Sunrise, Florida
Gross leasable area: 2.3 million sq ft
Sawgrass Mills is a shopping mall in Florida’s Sunrise city within the Miami metropolitan area. It is the largest mall in Florida state (by gross leasable area) and the 9th largest in America. Due to its location, Sawgrass Mills is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state.
The mall is owned and managed by Simon Property Group, an Indianapolis-based real estate investment giant that controls most of the biggest shopping malls in the country.
Sawgrass Mills consists of about 400 stores and has eleven anchor tenants, including Marshalls, Neiman Marcus (Last Call), Primark, BrandsMart USA, Super Target, Burlington, Coat Factory, Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, Regal Cinemas, and Bed Bath & Beyond.
Due to its size, the mall is divided into three part; “The Colonnade Outlets at Sawgrass Mills,” which feature upscale stores and restaurants; “The Oasis at Sawgrass Mills,” and the main mall, which include “Avenue” and “Fashion Row” sections.
8. Roosevelt Field
Roosevelt Field entrance | Image Courtesy: Simon Malls
Located at: Garden City, Long Island, New York
Gross leasable area: 2.37 million sq ft
Roosevelt Field is the largest shopping mall in Long Island, the second-largest in New York state, and the eighth largest complex in America. It is built on land that served as an airfield of the same name famous for being the take-off site of Charles Lindbergh’s solo transatlantic flight in 1927. The mall was inaugurated in 1956, making it one of the oldest existing malls in the country as well.
At the time of its initial opening in 1956, the mall had just one anchor store in Macy’s. The number of anchors increased to four in the 1970s and further expanded throughout the 1990s. Today, Roosevelt Field has more than 240 stores with six anchor tenants, including Bloomingdale’s Macy’s Nordstrom, JCPenny’s, Neiman Marcus, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
There are about a dozen of fine dining restaurants and several other eateries inside the mall. It also features a few entertainment venues, including Glow Golf, a glow-in-the-dark miniature golf facility.
7. Destiny USA
Aerial view of Destiny mall in Syracuse, New York | Image Courtesy: U.S. Embassy Canada
Located at: Syracuse, New York
Gross leasable area: 2.4 million sq ft
Destiny USA, formerly known as Carousel Center, is the largest shopping mall in New York state and the seventh-largest in the country. The mall is situated on the shore of Onondaga lake northeast of the Syracuse city center in New York.
It consists of more than 230 stores with a blend of discount and upscale brands, a number of eateries, and about a dozen of entertainment venues such as Amazing Mirror Maze, Dave & Buster’s, Laser Tag, and Mystery Room. Currently, the mall has 15 anchor tenants (out of a total of 19 stores), they are – Macy’s Dick’s Sporting Goods, Forever 21, DSW, Old Navy, Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, and At Home department store. It also includes a 200 room Embassy Suites hotel which opened in September 2017.
In 2021, it was reported that Destiny USA and its owner, Pyramid Management Group, are facing severe financial problems mainly due to the most recent expansion of the mall that took place in 2012. A considerable amount of unpaid debt that was used to finance that expansion has greatly depreciated the mall’s market value from more than $700 million in 2014 to just over $200 million. Moreover, the occupancy rate of Destiny USA has also decreased to 62.2 percent.
6. The Galleria
The Galleria interior | Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Located at: Houston, Texas
Gross leasable area: 2.4 million sq ft
The Galleria, also known as Houston Galleria, is the largest shopping complex in Texas and the sixth-largest in America. Extended over an area of 3 million sq ft, the Galleria consist of a retail area, entertainment facilities, hotels, and office towers.
The mall has about 400 stores and restaurants anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Macy’s. It includes a massive 20,000 sq ft ice skating facility located right below the mall’s central glass atrium. It was perhaps the first-ever ice rink assembled inside a mall.
Inside the Galleria, complex are also three office towers and two hotels. One of the office towers is the Galleria Financial Center, which accommodates offices of some of the world’s largest financial institutions such as UBS AG, Citigroup, and Merrill Lynch.
The Galleria is known for its extensive collection of high-end and luxury stores, including Van Cleef, Bottega Veneta, Tom Ford, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Bvlgari, Burberry, and Prada. It is one of the biggest attractions in Texas and gets about 35 million visitors annually. Like most other shopping complexes on this list, the Galleria is also owned and managed by Simon Property Group.
5. Del Amo Fashion Center
Interior of the Del Amo Fashion Center | Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Located at: Torrance, Los Angeles, California
Gross leasable area: 2.5 million sq ft
Torrance, California’s Del Almo Fashion Center, was once the largest shopping mall in America. Today, it’s the second-largest mall in California and the fifth largest in the country. Avid movie fans may recognize Del Almo from Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 blockbuster film ‘Jackie Brown.’
As we know it today, Del Amo Fashion Center is a result of a ‘merger’ between two smaller malls in 1981. It all started in the early 1960s when two completely unrelated open-air shopping centers (both named Del Amo) were built on either side of Carson Street.
Both malls expanded gradually over time until 1981 when a concourse was built over Carson Street to merge them into one giant shopping mall. For a short period of time, Del Amo was possibly the biggest mall in America.
Today, the center has about 255 stores, ten eateries – including L.A.’s iconic Pink’s Hot Dogs, several patio cafes, and other restaurants. It also has a massive multi-level parking deck. Some of the most popular stores and anchor tenants in Del Amo are – Macy’s, Nordstrom (both newly renovated), AMC Theaters, JCPenney, Dave & Buster’s, and Mitsuwa Marketplace, a Japanese supermarket.
In 2002, Del Amo Fashion Center was purchased by The Mills Corporation (later became a part of Simon Property Group) from its original developer Guilford Glazer for about $420 million. The acquisition was followed by a large-scale renovation and extension of the northwestern wing.
4. King of Prussia
King of Prussia mall entrance in 2019 | Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Located at: King of Prussia, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
Gross leasable area: 2.6 million sq ft
King of Prussia mall, or simply King of Prussia, is a large shopping complex located in Montgomery County, about 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia. It is currently the fourth largest shopping mall in America by gross leasable area. The mall was built in two parts. The first and oldest portion of the mall, the Plaza, opened in 1963 as a small open-air shopping mall and gradually became a super-regional mall in the 1970s.
To facilitate the growing demands of an upscale shopping complex in the region, a new fully enclosed shopping mall, named ‘the Court,’ was opened right across the street from ‘the Plaza’ in 1981.
A decade later, a significant increase in the demand for luxury goods led to a complete remodeling of the Plaza to make it as upscale as the Court. Later, both the complexes were joined through a walkway bridge to make it a single large shopping mall.
Today, King of Prussia mall has 450 stores and has six anchor tenants – Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Primark, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Moreover, the mall feature over 40 different eateries and restaurants and four large food courts that offer international dining options.
King of Prussia is a prominent tourist destination in the Philadelphia area, attracting more than 20 million visitors annually. It is among the very few malls in the country with annual sales of more than $1 billion. The mall is wholly owned by Simon Property Group.
3. South Coast Plaza
One of the South Coast Plaza entrances in 2013 | Image Courtesy: Nandaro/Wikimedia Commons
Located at: Costa Mesa, California
Gross leasable area: 2.8 million
California’s South Coast Plaza is the largest shopping mall on the U.S. West Coast and the third-largest in the country. The mall is spread over an area of 128 acres and has about 2.8 million square feet of gross leasable space consisting of over 270 stores. It currently has four anchor tenants, including Macy’s Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale’s.
The mall was constructed in 1967 in Costa Mesa by members of the Segerstrom family, a prominent family in Orange County, California. The Segerstrom family maintains ownership of the mall. It is also one of the very few shopping malls on this list to be owned by a family-run business rather than a real estate investment trust.
South Coast Plaza mall is known for its bold and eye-catching interior designs, notably inverted pyramid-like chandeliers, a pedestrian bridge known as ‘Bridge of Gardens’ that connects two parts of the mall, and a modern ivory marble and travertine tile floor furnishing.
The mall is prominent in terms of revenue as well. In 2002, South Coast Plaza reportedly surpassed $1 billion in annual sales revenue for the first time. This value almost doubled in the financial year 2017. Moreover, it has the second-highest sales volume at $800/sq foot in California, behind Westfield Valley Fair mall in San Jose. South Coast Plaza had (before the pandemic) 22 million visitors annually.
2. American Dream
American Dream parking garage entrance | Image Courtesy: Martin Lewison/Flickr
Located at: East Rutherford, New Jersey
Gross leasable area: 3 million sq ft
American Dream, formerly American Dream Meadowlands, is a shopping mall and entertainment complex located in East Rutherford borough of New Jersey. After being inaugurated in October 2019, American Dream became the second biggest mall in America, surpassing King of Prussia mall in Philadelphia. While the mall’s construction started way back in 2004, a series of financial and legal issues and ownership changes over the years significantly delayed its completion.
The earliest inception of the American Dream mall can be traced back to 1994 when Mills Corporation (a defunct estate investment trust in New Jersey) made plans to construct a much smaller mall in Carlstadt in New Jersey, a part of the Meadowlands. However, the project was canceled due to environmental concerns.
Then in 2002, Mills Corporation made another proposal for a mall, this time on a different site, which was also accepted. But this time, the construction was hindered due to the company’s bankruptcy issues, and the project was sold to Colony Capital (now DigitalBridge) investment firm in 2006. Two years later, the financial crisis of 2008 created a global shortage of real estate funding that again put the brakes on the construction of the mall.
In 2011, the majority ownership of the mall was acquired by Triple Five Group, a Canadian real estate conglomerate controlled by the Ghermezian family. It took about eight more years to open the first phase of the mall. In 2020, it was announced that about 70 percent of the mall would consist of entertainment facilities, and only 30 percent would comprise retail tenants.
In September 2021, it opened its new luxury wing for the public with just five stores, including Hermes, Johnny Was, Mulberry, Dolce & Gabbana, and is anchored by Saks 5th Avenue.
1. Mall of America
Mall of America front entrance | Image Courtesy: Tyler Vigen
Located at: 60 East Broadway, Bloomington, Minnesota
Gross leasable area: 4.8 million sq ft
The biggest mall in America, known as ‘Mall of America,’ is located in the suburban Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area near the intersection of state highway 77 and Interstate 494. It is built on the site of the former Metropolitan Stadium or Old Met Stadium, once the home to the Minnesota Vikings.
Mall of America is one of the most popular attractions in the midwestern region of the United States, attracting millions of visitors from neighboring states, including Ohio and Wisconsin. It is comprised of 520 stores, with four anchor stores currently occupied by Nordstrom, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Sears. Other major stores include Barnes & Noble, DSW, Marshalls, and a 24,000 sq ft M&M’s retail store.
There are two notable entertainment facilities inside the mall. One is Nickelodeon Universe, the largest indoor theme park in the United States with multiple roller coasters and thrill rides. The other is Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, a 300 ft long tunnel aquarium that contains thousands of marine creatures.
There are two seven-story car parks on the east and west sides of the mall—an additional overflow parking slot on the north side of the building. The combined parking capacity of the mall is more than 13,000 cars.
Mall of America is developed and owned by Triple Five Group. In 2006, the Ghermezian family, which controls Triple Five Group, settled a long-standing dispute over the majority ownership of the mall with Simon Property Group by spending $1 billion.
Other Large Malls in America
1. Palisades Center
Located at: West Nyack, New York
Gross leasable area: 2.2 million sq ft
New York’s Palisades Center is the 12th largest mall in America. It consists of nearly 220 stores, about a dozen restaurants, and a huge 2,000 seater food court. The total number of anchor tenants in Palisades Center has fluctuated widely over the years. The mall initially had four anchor tenants, which increased to a maximum of 16 in the early 2010s.
Palisades Center is unique in a number of ways. It is built in the industrial style design inspired by various aspects of industrial spaces and old factories. It also features a 60 ft Ferris wheel under a covered roof and an ice rink. Other entertainment facilities include a stadium seating AMC theatre, an interactive family entertainment center, and a bowling alley.
It was one of the most profitable shopping malls in the country in the last decade or so. However, in 2020, due to increasing debt and a drastic decrease in occupancy, there is speculation that the mall could be sold for far less than its market value in the near future.
2. Millcreek Mall
Located at: Millcreek Township, Pennsylvania
Gross leasable area: 2.2 million sq ft
The Millcreek Mall is the second-largest shopping mall in Pennsylvania after King of Prussia and the 13th largest in the country. In total, the mall has about 165 stores and several large restaurants that are located within its physical boundary. However, the main complex only includes just over 120 stores. Millcreek has three occupied anchor stores; they are – Macy’s JCPenney and Boscov’s department store.
The mall opened for the public for the first time on November 10, 1975, with six anchor tenants, JCPenney being one of them. When observed from above, Millcreek Mall vaguely resembles a gun pointing towards downtown Erie. It is most likely a result of several remodeling and alterations over the years. But this controversial design has led to a rumor that the mall was intentionally designed this way under the instruction of the mafia.
Apart from several retail stores and restaurants, Millcreek premises include a couple of mid-tier hotels, including Fairfield Inn and Townplace Suites.
3. Aventura Mall
Aventura mall front | Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Located at: Aventura, Florida, United States
Gross leasable area: 2.1 million sq ft
Aventura Mall is the fifth largest shopping mall in America and the second-largest in the state of Florida. It is located in the city of the same about less than 20 miles away from Miami.
Aventura is one of the biggest attractions in and around this region due to its high number of retail stores (more than 300) featuring brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Givenchy. There are about forty eateries and a separate food hall. The mall also showcases a collection of more than 20 art pieces, including sculptures and installations, throughout the premises.
Aventura Mall opened for the public for the first time on April 29, 1983. It was developed and initially owned by two real estate firms — Oxford Development and Edward J. DeBartolo Corp.
The original mall complex had a 1.2 million sq ft retail floor area. The first major expansion of the mall was carried out in 1996, in which a multiplex cinema, a three-story atrium, and a new restaurant were built onto the southeast end. Then in 2017, a new expansion wing was built spanning more than 240,000 sq ft. to accommodate several new restaurants and a massive Zara store.
Currently, Aventura Mall has five anchor tenants – Macy’s JCPenney, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and AMC Theaters.
4. Woodfield Mall
Located at: Schaumburg, Illinois
Gross leasable area: 2.1 million sq ft
With 2,150,557 sq ft of gross leasable area, Chicago’s Woodfield is the largest mall in Illinois and 15th largest in America. It is situated at the intersection of Interstate 290 and Golf Road in Schaumburg village. The mall has just over 230 stores and half-a-dozen restaurants, including P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and The Cheesecake Factory. It has four anchor stores – Macy’s, Nordstrom, JCPenney, and JCPenny Optical.
Woodfield Mall is one of the major tourist attractions in the Chicago metropolitan area, and the Illinois state attracts millions of visitors every year. The mall played a crucial role in the speedy growth of the Schaumburg village and its surrounding area with industrial and office development in the 1970s and substantial expansion of the commercial market in the 1990s.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the largest mall in the World?
With a gross leasable area of 14.5 million sq ft., the Iran Mall, located in Tehran (the capital city of Iran), is the largest shopping mall in the world. In comparison, the Mall of America has about 5.6 million sq ft. of leasable area. It is a multi-purpose complex that includes two extensive indoor gardens, a traditional bazaar (marketplace) inspired by several historic marketplaces located across the country.
Mirror Hall in the Iran Mall | Wikimedia Commons
A notable component of the traditional bazaar is the Mirror Hall, built using 38 million mirrors and inspired by the Mirror hall in the old Iranian National Parliament building. The mall also features a 15-floor hotel (under construction), a bowling alley, an ice rink, and a cinema complex.
How many shopping malls are in the United States?
Based on shopping center statistics compiled by Innovating Commerce Serving Communities (ICSC), the United States had 115,049 shopping malls in 2020.
Which U.S. states have the most Malls?
According to ICSC data, about 27 percent of malls in America are located in just three states; California, Texas, and Florida. California is the leading state with 15,285 shopping malls that generate $3.5 billion in property taxes. The next is Texas, with 12,834 malls generating $3.4 billion in property taxes. The state with the third-largest number of malls is Florida, with 10,843 malls.
What is the biggest mall in North America?
Minnesota’s Mall of America is the biggest shopping mall in the United States and North America. Several sources label West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, as the largest mall on the continent, but that’s not true. West Edmonton Mall is extended over an area of 5.3 million sq ft, which is about 300,000 sq ft less than that of Mall of America (5.6 million sq ft). In terms of gross leasable area, West Edmonton Mall is the 2nd largest mall in North America with a 3.8 million sq ft GLA.