Growing up in the region, our favorite place to shop was always the Lehigh Valley Mall. It's where we faithfully did our back-to-school, holiday and special occasion shopping.

But as I got older, I found that my trips to the Mall were becoming less frequent. I just didn't want to deal with the traffic on MacArthur Road, the parking and the groups of roving teens.

However, I think I've found a new reason to return. Over a year ago the mall added a group of stores called the Outdoor Shops at Lehigh Valley Mall. Finally Lehigh Valley was going to get the upscale stores we'd been craving; the ones we'd been driving to King of Prussia to shop at all of these years.

I like the outdoor factor since you're not cooped up inside the mall. It just feels more free and less confining. I know that the outdoor approach is suppose to mimic the old-fashioned downtown shopping district, but I don't think it does. However it's very walkable and easy to get around.

So far, I've explored the Apple store, Williams-Sonoma and Ann Taylor Loft. I've also eaten at Bravo Cucina Italiana. Oh and I've been in the Barnes & Noble too, but we already had one of them here so not too exciting.

Next time I go shopping, I'll visit a few more stores until I've knocked all of them off my to do list. Who knows what I'll find!

So what are your thoughts on the new, upscale stores that have come to our region in the last few years? Do you shop at them, or are you more of a Target and Wal-Mart kind of person?