One of Florida’s most popular indoor vacation experiences is to go shopping, although with Florida’s climate, many of the popular shopping spots utilize beautiful outdoor settings. It seems every area of Florida has discount malls but I prefer going to shopping plazas that are non-traditional in their variety and awesome-ness or have shops you can’t find in nearby malls.
Here are some places you should include on your Florida shopping plans:
The Mall at Millenia (Orlando) at 4200 Conroy Road, Orlando
Orlando is crowded with malls but for some slightly more high-end shopping the Mall at Millenia is my choice. The indoor, multi-level shopping space is only half the size of The Florida Mall, but stores here focus more on the upscale brands such as Gucci, Cartier, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Burberry, and Tiffany & Co. Located south of downtown, means it is easier to get to from Universal, SeaWorld, Disney and the international airport.
Disney Springs off I-10 at Walt Disney World
This monster of a shopping village is more than Disney shops: it has great restaurants, more upscale places then you might imagine, but also the best selection of things visitors want to bring home on vacations.
Disney Springs could be called Shopping World
Despite the crowds, the automated free parking facilities make it easy to park provided you don’t arrive weekday afternoons. The addition of quality nightclubs with movie theaters makes Disney Springs a full day attraction.
International Plaza and Bay Street off Westshore at Tampa Airport
The creation of this upscale 200-speciality shop mall with Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus is often filled with foreign visitors who pop off the airport, book a room in the mall’s hotel, and shop and dine for day.
The restaurant area at International Mall
Bay Street is filled with some 20 restaurants and even the food court’s spots are places like Chipotle, Chick-fil-a, Johnny Rockets, and Earl of Sandwich, not unknown dealers. There are a dozen deluxe handbag firms, some only found in Italy and Beverly Hills.
Dolphin Mall, 11401 NW 12th Street, Miami
Miami is loaded with shopping options, but I am amazed by the Dolphin, the largest outlet-shopping-entertainment complex in Miami-Dade. It has great transportation options in this overcrowded metropolis.
With massive discount stores by Saks and Neiman Marcus sitting next to Bass Pro Shops and Burlington Coat, you realize this complex has everything, including a 19-screen movie theater, high quality restaurants, and even a Sunday farmer’s market.
Bal Harbour Shops, at 9700 Collins Avenue, off A1A, Bal Harbour
This plant-dominated outdoor mall in the beachside suburb of Bal Harbour is more than an upscale shopping place. It is a spot where top notch designers want to present their latest selections.
There is nothing discount at Bal Harbour. La Perla, Wolford, Agent Provocateur join Oscar de la Renta, and Stella Mccartney. It is not shocking that the restaurants here are also upscale – a fast snack means Parisian-style treats at Lauduree.
Swap Shop, 3291 West Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Not everyone has Versace tastes or pocketbooks and the Swap Shop is the wildest and probably biggest flea market, farmers market, and 14-screen drive-in in the South. Everyday 2,000 vendors jam 75 acres of shopping entertainment and the good news is that typical catalog discount stuff won’t get you in the good graces of these shoppers.
Swap Shop Is 75 Acres of Mad Entertainment
The bright yellow people bridge over Sunrise Boulevard is the yellow brick shopping road to a vast collection of everything. It may not be the Emerald City but you can purchase discounted emeralds here.
The Galleria, 2414 East Sunrise Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale
Head toward the beach from Swap Shop and you come to one of Florida’s most world-class shopping meccas. The two-story structure houses Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, and all the expected glamour chains. Its valet parking is the best in Southeast Florida and the restaurant list is first class.
Worth Avenue at Palm Beach
Florida’s most famous and glamorous shopping street is Worth Avenue in the heart of Palm Beach. The island center contains quality shops, but even more wonderful Land Boon architecture, classic hotels, and notable restaurants.
Even if you don’t plan to buy anything, a stroll around this beautiful neighborhood is a worthwhile tourist attraction and you can even find guides online.
The Avenues Mall, 103 Southside Blvd, South Jacksonville
The pride of South Jacksonville off I-95 and near I-295 and the eastside of the St. Johns River, this massive two-story 125-store mall is the best in North Florida. Besides the traditional big chains and large food court, Avenues has odd places like Subculture and Winey Wench. The architecture here is amazingly lovely.
Fifth Avenue South, downtown Naples, west of US41
Upscale Naples has a lot of upscale malls, but I love Olde Naples when the weather is mild and walking along the wide avenue with its tropical plants is so Florida. People thought shopping might leave here in the 1990’s with the growth of more suburban malls, but Fifth Avenue South has boomed with its delightful mix of sidewalk cafes, unique local shops, and quality urban design.
Fifth Avenue South in Naples At Holiday Times
Fifth Avenue South is at its best in the winter months when street festivals and outdoor events attract half of Collier County downtown to enjoy their downtown treat.