Even if you're not a shopper, the mall can be a great place for families, especially those with young children. Anyone can easily spend three hours there for under $10. Here's how:
We start out in the soft play area, which is actually open before the rest of the mall. Get there at 9:30am and you have a huge, empty building where little kids can safely run for half an hour without crowds or the temptation of open stores. Once you're tired of the escalators and elevators, enjoy some quiet time in the aging-but-still-fun soft play area on the Dillards end. If you get there early, the pushy big kids aren't there yet, which makes all the difference for toddlers and preschoolers.
Next, head to the food court, preferably before the lunch rush. Sometimes we have fruit and juice boxes from one of the vendors, but you can also bring your own food. They have child-sized tables - and a Starbucks for you. The carousel typically gets started a little before lunch and children under two are free. We love that the animals aren't just horses; they've got a giraffe, frog and more. Also of note: a family restroom and nursing lounge.
Other fun activities include playing "I Spy" on the benches, doing a scavenger hunt, seeing what a little girl can find at Claire's Accessories for under $5, paying big bucks to ride the electric train, paying quarters to ride the mechanical toys near the soft play area, or taking advantage of the free events. For example, Pottery Barn Kids has a Father's Day LEGO DUPLO Jams Party this Saturday, June 18. You can find a complete list of mall events here.
And, of course, if you still need to use up some time, there's always shopping.