By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published May 20, 2006 at 5:32 AM

Ah, the malls. Just thinking about them makes me crave a soft pretzel and wonder how the escalator stairs unfold.

Milwaukee has a myriad of malls, some booming and some up-and-coming, but all of them allow us the luxury of rain-or-shine shopping for whatever gadget or get-up we simply must have.

Brookfield Square
95 N. Moorland Rd., Brookfield, (262) 797-7245

Mall Hours: Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

With over 110 stores and eateries, Brookfield Square is all about choices, choices and more choices. But one thing's for certain: everyone who shops here stops at Old Navy. Who can resist cheap capris and I'll-take-one-in-every-color tops? Not me. Not you. Not the entire cast of "Friends."

Very clean, modern and well-designed, Brookfield Square makes getting from point A to point B extremely easy. Powerhouse anchor stores like Boston Store, JCPenney, and Sears mix swimmingly with mall staples like the Limited, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor Loft and The Gap. There’s also the new addition of H&M, a store for everyone with not-too-shabby prices.

There's an abundance of frenetic mall energy in the air, with teenagers bouncing between Hot Topic and Gadzook's, stay-at-home mom's stroller sprinting to Children's Place and professionals trying to grab some grub at Arby's or Quizno's before the whistle blows.

Mayfair Mall
2500 N. Mayfair Rd., Wauwatosa, (414) 354-2900

Mall Hours: Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Mayfair has all the elements needed for a successful mallrat experience: accessibility, diversity and plenty of attractive people of the opposite sex.

This popular destination has always been more than just a mall. It once housed an indoor ice-skating rink and today, features one of the city's largest movie complexes with 14 super-wide screens, a video arcade and an impressive selection of meals and munchies.

Boston Store, Marshall Field's, J. Crew, Pottery Barn, Steve Madden and Coldwater Creek are just a few of the stores you'll find in this modern shopping mecca. But the best new addition happens to be the first Crate & Barrell in the state. Plus, it has a rich history -- you'd be hard-pressed to find a 20-, 30- or 40-something Milwaukee native who didn't once attend or host a birthday party at the ice skating rink.

And should you need sustenance between surges of power-shopping, you can fuel up at Sbarro, Taco Bell or Chinese Gourmet. Experts have proven that fast food items taste nine-times better when eaten in a food court. Feel like something a little more fancy and sit-down? Panera Bread is on the bottom floor and the parking lot now plays host to the Cheesecake Factory. Don’t miss out on mixing up your own ice cream concoction at Cold Stone Creamery either.

Southridge Mall
5300 S. 76th St., Greendale, (414) 421-1102

Mall Hours: Monday through Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Once upon a time, Southridge had an element of sleaze. Maybe it was the seductive mannequins in the Frederick's of Hollywood window, or maybe it was the disproportionate number of pimply-faced adolescent males, but the words "meat market" always came to mind when this mall was referenced in conversation. Well, that times have changed, and Southridge is now hip, happening and has a much more comfortable male-to-female ratio.

Don't be afraid to browse at Boston Store, Sears, JC Penney or any of the other walk-in shops in this airy, updated mall. Southridge has all the staples of other malls with a few stores few malls have attached, Linens-N-Things, Kohl’s and Old Navy.

There’s a nice-sized food court with fun fountains to accompany dining. There’s a play area where parents can take their children for a shopping break. A Starbucks sits in the middle of the mall if you need a caffeine boost. And Southridge has installed massaging chairs if your shopping workout has strained muscles.

Bayshore Mall
5900 N. Port Washington Rd., Glendale, (414) 963-8780

Mall Hours: Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday Noon-6 p.m.

Big plans are in store for Bayshore Mall, with a $100-million expansion project underway. A mod new look and a skating rink are on the way, but in the mean time, you can shop 'til you drop at all the usual mall shops, including Banana Republic, Boston Store, Gap, Claire's Boutique, Sears, Barnes & Noble and more.

But the mall’s new tenants are something to look forward to: Brooks Brothers, Cameron’s Steak house, Devon Seafood Grill, H&M and California Pizza Kitchen.

If you're prone to places with more of a unique flavor, there are a few non-chain gems. Just be careful: The mall-walkers are at a record high in this mall, and they get out of the way for no one. Not even Orange Julius himself.

Shops of Grand Avenue
275 W. Wisconsin Ave. (414) 224-0655

Mall Hours: Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

There is only one place in the world where you can shop, work out and visit a clown museum, and that's The Shops of Grade Avenue. With a YMCA right above it and the International Clown Hall of Fame right below, the Grand Avenue makes for a most unique experience.

Since it opened in 1982, "The Grand" has experienced a fair share of ups and downs, but today, after a $12 million facelift, it's once again a truly beautiful place to shop and eat. With brightly-colored walls, lots of granite, and updated interior lighting, the mall now has a very modern, urban feel.

The Shops of Grand Avenue is divided into two sections -- the Plankinton Arcade and the New Arcade -- connected by a skywalk. The Plankinton Arcade is much quieter than the other parts of the mall, but it does play host to Old Navy, Lane Bryant and Music Recyclery. The New Arcade focuses almost exclusively on fashion, with Boston Store, Rainbow, Baker's and more.

The New Arcade also features a sky's-the-limit Food Court, with choices ranging from Japanese cuisine to cheeseburgers to pizza to Greek food.