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Mall guide: Fashion Island

November 24, 2011|From the Los Angeles Times

Survival strategies: On the second level of the Atrium Court of the Bloomingdale's wing you'll find a concierge desk, where you can buy guest cards, check packages so you don't have to lug them around, make dining reservations and borrow wheelchairs, strollers or umbrellas. To really take the pressure out of holiday shopping, the mall is offering complimentary personal shopping services through the guest services concierge desk or by appointment by calling (949) 721-2000. Parking options include regular lots and a couple of garages — I can usually find space in the underground one on the mall's west side, near Toni & Guy Hairdressing and P.F. Chang's. Valet parking is also an option and is available for $6 on the south side near Macy's and Fleming's and on the east side near Canaletto Ristorante Veneto.

Take a break: There's fine dining to be had at Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine or Fleming's steakhouse and wine bar, across the parking lot from the mall itself. Or go a bit more casual and grab an ocean-view seat at Orange County's first Le Pain Quotidien, or go to Cheesecake Factory, Yard House, P.F. Chang's China Bistro or California Pizza Kitchen. Watch the crowds go by from a sidewalk table at Café Beau Soleil at American Rag Cie or Great Maple, next to Nordstrom. For healthy fare, True Food Kitchen boasts fresh ingredients and menus based on the principles of alternative health practitioner Dr. Andrew Weil. And of course there is the traditional food court on the first level of the three-story, enclosed Bloomingdale's wing.

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Holiday cheer: A 90-foot Christmas tree lights up the Neiman Marcus-Bloomingdale's courtyard, and Santa is in residence at his house on Atrium Lane. A menorah lighting is planned for Dec. 20.

For kids: The popular carousel is gone, a casualty of the renovation despite an online petition drive to try to save it. But any mall can have a carousel; this one has a koi pond — arguably more fun for kids than sitting on a fake horse and going around in circles. The pond is stocked with fat orange fish, and there are stepping stones for those adventurous enough to cross it.

Nearby: Pop over a few miles to Rogers Gardens, the well-known nursery and outdoor décor emporium, which becomes a wonderland of Christmas trees this time of year. And for pure R&R, there's the nearby Balboa Fun Zone, with its Ferris wheel, boat rentals, Rocknbounce bungee jump (yes, bungee) and more.

Impressions: A very civilized way to shop. Sunshine, sea, splashing fountains, bright geraniums and shady pines make me feel like I'm somewhere in the Mediterranean with nothing more pressing on my mind than whether to have my nails done or hair blown out; whether to pop into Bloomie's or try on something at the Betsey Johnson boutique; whether to have a glass of wine at Fleming's or a latte from Nordstrom's e-Bar in the courtyard. Don't bother me; I'm shopping.

Wesbite: http://www.shopfashionisland.com

—Susan Denley

Twitter: @LATimes

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