By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Love them or hate them, the shopping malls of Barra da Tijuca are some of the largest in the entire continent. And they offer a world away from the heat and humidity of a typical day in Rio de Janeiro. So here are some of the best things to explore within Barra’s gigantic shopping centers.
When mentioning the shopping malls in Barra da Tijuca, one of the first, largest and still among the best has to be Barra Shopping. While not the largest shopping mall in Brazil or the continent, Barra Shopping still dominates proceedings in Rio de Janeiro, with around 120,000 m2 of commercial floor-space.
Visitors should be sure to check out the HotZone, an amusement arcade with over 250 attractions and games for all ages. There is a wealth of virtual reality attractions, old-school games like pinball, go-karting and even some fairground rides.
While at Barra Shopping, there is also the new ‘Sniper’ space to check out, which features a range of airsoft guns that can be fired safely on a firing range, taken to a challenge mode, or even used in a duel.
“The shopping malls of Barra may be intimidating at first, but they have some really cool features that can rarely be found in Rio. You can go ice-skating at Américas Shopping or play laser tag at Barra Garden Shopping Mall.” comments Talita Soares, library science student. “And I can easily spend a whole afternoon at HotZone.” For fast-food enthusiasts, Barra Shopping also has one of the only Taco Bell restaurants in Rio de Janeiro.
“The mall here can be a real refuge from the sweltering heat.” comments Haley Monroe, hotelier. “They actually have really good restaurants and some great views to boot.”
She continues, “It’s a great way to flee the heat and the hustle and bustle of the city. The restaurant selection is very good. I particularly enjoy Le Vin Bistrot at Barra Shopping and Capim Santo at Village Mall Barra.”
“A lot of the malls also have cinemas with VIP viewing rooms which offer oversized reclinable chairs. Though I’d recommend avoiding peak times unless you enjoy waiting in line!” Monroe concludes.
For adrenaline junkies, there’s always Top Kart at Shopping Nova América. This indoor go-karting circuit is the perfect antidote to a rainy day in Rio de Janeiro, and it is open to all ages, including birthday parties and corporate events.
Another interesting mall worth a visit is Barra World. Designed and built by businessman José Koury with the help of architects Sérgio Gattass and Sérgio Klein, Barra World includes large-scale representations of the Eiffel Tower, London Bridge, a Sphinx of Egypt and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, among other attractions. It is like a little slice of Las Vegas in the heart of Barra da Tijuca.