There's More to Malls than Shopping

By: Jill Martin

Check out these family-friendly Florida malls with plenty to entertain (and distract) the kids.

These days, there’s much more to malls than just shopping – way more! Check out these Florida shopping areas that offer plenty of ways to keep the kids (and you) entertained.

Aventura Mall

Moms in South Florida know this is the place to come with little ones. The mall’s indoor play area called ‘Rainbow Valley’ lets kids crawl through tunnels, jump over a rainbow and more. You’ll find it right in front of Sears. Plus, at Christmastime, they go all out and create an entire Winter Wonderland with Santa and train rides.

Westfield Countryside, Clearwater

Westfield Countryside mall really caters to moms with a family lounge complete with everything a new mom and baby would need: bottle warmers, changing tables, microwave ovens and even private feeding rooms. For 2- to 6-year-olds, The Living Ocean Play Space is where you’ll need to be. Hint: Check out the two-level wave slide. All this fun is on the lower lever, near JCPenney. Westfield Countryside offers family parking at each of their four main entrances, family friendly stores and a trackless train that meanders throughout the mall (for only $4) for kids and adults alike. And don’t miss the ice skating rink where you can take skating classes or just come and glide any day of the week.

Downtown Disney®, Lake Buena Vista

With Disney in the name, you know it’s family friendly. There are fountains to play in, a Lego® store for building things, fun restaurants like T-REX® Café, boat rides, Once Upon A Toywhere kids can build their own Lightsaber, train rides, a carousel and live entertainment. But wait! There’s tons more! You’ll find the largest Disney store on Earth (no kidding); the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is where your little princess can get a magical makeover; and you can tether 400’ feet in the air in a giant balloon!

International Plaza, Tampa

International Plaza provides families a dazzling destination loaded with upscale stores like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. But kids love the Tampa Bay Rays Looney Tunes Ball Park play area! This indoor playground is nice and big and lets kids play and pounce with the likes of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. There’s also a large TV that runs baseball highlights.

Jacksonville Landing

Located right on the St Johns River, The Landing is more than pretty to look at. It hosts more than 300 free events a year, so chances are, something will be going on during your visit from live music to dance shows. Be sure to visit The Toy Factory that’s been here since 1987, and try Great Wraps, which has been in The Landing Food Court for more than 15 years. Feel like a boat ride? Hop on the water taxi and enjoy the panoramic views of downtown Jacksonville.

Melbourne Square Mall

Melbourne Square Mall has a new custom-designed children’s play area called Simon Kidgits Korner that covers nearly 1,500 square feet of space. Kids are drawn to its brightness and fun, interactive stations. There’s also a library and reading area for kids, seating for adults and a baby-changing station. You’ll find it near Dillard’s South (you can’t miss it)!

Shoppes at Sunset Place, South Miami

In addition to Game Works and Cool-De-Sac Play Café (which has seven interactive stations such as crafts, costumes and computers), you’ll find Splitsville Bowling, 24 movie theatres including an IMAX with stadium seating, ice cream and a huge candy shop. And mom will find all her favorite shops including specialty boutiques like Armani, along with covered and valet parking.

The Shops at Wiregrass, Wesley Chapel

This new mall offers something really unusual -– a ranch house with smaller houses on the side -- in the middle of center court that kids can play in. (The Shops at Wiregrass was originally part of the Wiregrass Ranch land.) Its open-air, tree-lined streets make strolling a breeze, and the shopping center has lots of family events, such as Wiregrass Wednesdays complete with face painting, bounce houses, entertainment and giveaways. Bring $2 to take a ride the train -– and this one’s not on tracks! It goes around the entire mall. 

The Village at Baytowne Wharf, Sandestin

You will love shopping at Baytowne Wharf, period. And your kids will thank you for bringing them! You’ll not only find specialty boutiques, award-winning restaurants (serving up fresh local seafood) and one-of-a-kind shops, kids can zipline across the water on North Florida’s only zipline, challenge themselves on the rope course, feed the fish, play on the playground, chill out at the ice cream shop and attend candy-making demonstrations.

So next time your kids are whining because they have to go shopping with you (or you’re whining because you have to take them!), head over to one of these over-the-top shopping malls where quality family fun is in the bag.

If You Go

Aventura Mall
19501 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura, 305-935-1110

Countryside Mall in Clearwater
27001 US Highway 19 N, Clearwater, FL 33761, 727-796-1079

Downtown Disney, Lake Buena Vista
1494 E Buena Vista Dr. Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830 407-WDW-MAGIC

International Plaza in Tampa
2223 N. West Shore Blvd, Tampa, FL 33607, 813- 342-3790

Jacksonville Landing
2 Independent Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32202, 904-353-1188

Melbourne Square Mall - Melbourne
1700 West New Haven Ave, Melbourne, FL. 321-727-2000

Shoppes at Sunset Place, South Miami
5701 Sunset Drive, South Miami 305-663-0857

The Shops at Wiregrass, Wesley Chapel
28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel, FL 33543, 813-994-2242

The Village at Baytowne Wharf, Sandestin
9300 Emerald Coast Parkway West, Destin, FL 32550, 850-267-8000

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners

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