Take a Shopping Spree While in Florida

By: Stephanie Hayes

ADD TO FAVORITES

If shopping’s your bag, you’ll find it in Florida.

Pensacola

Head to the Portofino Boardwalk for shopping, dining and entertainment in Pensacola Beach. You’ll find feminine fashions at Envie, swimsuits and beach gear at Islanders Land & Water and unique jewelry, wood carvings and Christian souvenirs at Go Fish Clothing & Jewelry Company. And when your feet need an inevitable break, the Wine Bar Cheese Shop offers happy hour every day from 3 to 6 p.m. with full carafes for the price of a glass.

If you're ready to get into some serious savings, check out Silver Sands Premium Outlets in Destin, with 110 outlet stores from Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, DKNY, Gap Outlet, J.Crew, Kenneth Cole, Michael Kors, Nike and Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th. Check the website first to read up on ever-changing in-store promotions.

Sometimes you just need a comforting, indoor, air-conditioned mall to soothe your sun-drenched soul. Cordova Mall near Pensacola International Airport, Sacred Heart Hospital and Pensacola State College has location and accessibility going for it, as well as 120 chilly cool stores including LOFT, Jos A. Bank, Chicos, Old Navy and Hollister. And when you're ready to nosh, Red Robin and Macaroni Grill are ready for you.

Panama City Beach

No trip to Panama City Beach is complete without shopping time at Pier Park, an outdoor complex with an IMAX movie theater, restaurants, live music venues and 124 stores. Pick up staples you forgot to pack at Target, or find some fun fashions at Forever 21, Dillard’s, JCPenney, Journeys, Victoria's Secret and Marshalls.

Fully commit to the beach vibe and visit the legendary Ron Jon Surf Shop in Pier Park. Ron Jon Surf Shop was founded in 1959 and has been a famous name in beach style ever since, offering up Quiksilver, Volcom, Hurley, Roxy, Billabong and other brands. Find more beach cover-ups, towels, bikinis, bags, floats and toys at Alvin's Island on Quietwater Beach Road. It's the perfect place to snag a souvenir to bring back home to the poor soul who didn't get to go on vacation with you.

Tampa Bay

In Tampa, the place to see and be seen is International Plaza and Bay Street, the most upscale shopping stop in town. The top floor of the two-story indoor mall is a wonderland of high-end retailers including Neiman Marcus, Burberry, Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton, but a quick journey downstairs offers more affordable options like Express, Sephora, Tommy Bahama and LUSH. And you won’t want to miss Bay Street, the outdoor portion of the mall, with a large Urban Outfitters and restaurants and bars ranging from the Cheesecake Factory to an intimate stop for sushi. You might just stay all day and all night.

For a complete 180, venture across the bay to downtown St. Petersburg, home to a bustling revitalized arts and shopping district. The 600 block of Central Avenue has everything from exciting vintage fashion shops to art galleries to stores that sell handmade fabric and wood carvings, even painted sneakers that look like mini works of art. Several blocks away on the same road, enjoy a strip of eclectic, jam-packed antique malls and unique custom furniture shops.

A trip across the towering Sunshine Skyway Bridge will bring you to Sarasota and the Ellenton Premium Outlets, where Tampa Bay residents regularly venture to get the best deals on designer wares from Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Coach, J.Crew, Kate Spade, Kenneth Cole, Michael Kors and more.

Fort Myers/Naples

A successful shopping center relies on environment as much as the goods in the stores. Prepare to be charmed by the downtown vibe at 5th Avenue South in Naples. The complex is walkable and surrounded by lush greenery and tropical flowers, not to mention stores including Boston Proper and White House Black Market and boutiques with gifts for your kids to gifts for your pets.

For more Fort Myers finds, check out the 50 retailers at Bell Tower Shops, a mix of boutiques and shopping staples from Saks Fifth Avenue to Williams-Sonoma to Ann Taylor to Talbots. For the post-shopping binge, visit one of the center's nine restaurants, including Courtyard Cafe, Bistro 41, Crü, DaRuMa Japanese Steak House, Grimaldi's Pizzeria, Blue Pointe Oyster Bar & Seafood Grill, Cantina Laredo, Mimi's Café and T.G.I. Friday's.

What’s shopping without a bit of a treasure hunt? Feast your eyes on Fleamasters Fleamarket, with more than 400,000 square feet of shopping with hundreds of booths of arts, crafts, produce, antiques, food, souvenirs, and classic Florida kitsch including shell jewelry and alligator heads. Plan to go for a day, get a bite to eat and take in some live entertainment in the flea market's new music hall, with seating for 300, plus lighting, sound and video projection.

Key West

Before you head to Mallory Square to witness one of Key West's world famous sunsets, venture into Clinton Square Market nestled between the historic Custom House and the Key West Aquarium. The air-conditioned mall will give your weary bones a break from the heat, plus a chance to find tropical treasures including beach clothes, metal art, fine jewelry and delicious ice cream and fudge. And it wouldn't be the Florida Keys without a slightly oddball element in play -- in this case, a nature walk with exotic live birds on the second floor.

For the quintessential tourist experience, hit the shops along Duval Street. You might pay a little more for souvenirs on the main drag, but at the very least it's worth browsing. And it's more diverse than you think. Just when you think you're going to be overwhelmed by snow globes and shot glasses, you'll encounter an upscale boutique or art gallery to serve as a retail palate cleanser.

Don't dare leave Key West without sampling a slice of key lime pie on a stick, which is just like it sounds except frozen and dipped in chocolate. Get this and other key lime confections (think candy, salsa and jelly) at Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe, owned by Key West icon Kermit Carpenter, with locations on Elizabeth Street and Duval Street.

Orlando

You can get a taste of the Disney experience without paying the full admission to the parks. Head to the Downtown Disney Marketplace on Buena Vista Drive for a slew of Disney-themed stores and restaurants. There's a mega-store with every character gift you can imagine, plus specialty stores with kitchen, Christmas and custom art themes. And over the years, the Disney shopping village has grown to feature sophisticated items that aren't necessarily laden with mouse ears. Check out TrenD for purses, jewelry and clothes, LittleMissMatched for scented socks, and Basin for bath bombs, soaps and candles.

If you just want to take a break from the parks, head to one of Orlando's luxurious shopping malls, including the Florida Mall or the Mall at Millenia. And Orlando wouldn't be a tourist destination without a quality outlet center. The Orlando Premium Outlets are brimming with deals from stores like J. Crew, Nine West and Barney's, but beware the tourists toting suitcases, trying to fill up on as many deals as possible before heading back overseas.

Jacksonville

Experience the thrill of the hunt at Avonlea Antique Mall, the largest antique mall in Northern Florida, founded in 1995. The mall hosts 200 dealer shops in a 40,000-sqaure-foot showroom, with everything from furniture to china to glass, art and collectibles. And you can grab lunch at the Old Florida Cafe inside the mall and take in one of the center's many regular events, from special holiday sales to full-on parties with door prizes. For more antique magic, head over to St. Augustine, where you’ll find a variety of stops on San Marco Avenue and Anastasia Island.

Every city has a one-stop-shop for entertainment, food and retail therapy, and in downtown Jacksonville, that place is Jacksonville Landing on the St. Johns River. The complex has waterfront dining, live music in the center courtyard and, of course, plenty of shops to help you blow your vacation fund. Get a hilarious caricature of yourself made at Bill’s Caricatures. Ferret out some fine men's fashions at A. J. Reese Clothiers. Or indulge in dips, soups, oils, vinegars, rubs and glazes at River City Gourmet Shoppe & Dips2go, which has its own balsamic tasting bar.

West Palm Beach

Worth Avenue isn’t just one of the most sought-after shopping locales in Florida. It’s one of the most sought-after locales in the country. The old-world, glamorous resort destination in Palm Beach is full of exclusive fashion, accessories, gifts, art, antiques and furniture. Prepare to pony up a pretty penny at shops including Brooks Brothers, Michael Kors, Emilio Pucci, Giorgio Armani, Hermes, Gucci, Saks Fifth Avenue, Ralph Lauren and Tory Burch. Of if you’re not in a place to spend, window shopping is practically a sport here. Worth Avenue is full of festivities for onlookers, including a holiday window decorating contest, a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and a pet parade.

You don’t have to be a moneybags to shop in the area. Head to historic Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach starting at Flagler Drive on the Intracoastal Waterway. It’s full of boutiques, clubs with live music, restaurants and antique shops. Also in West Palm, check out CityPlace, a town center mix of shops, restaurants, a movie theater and homes. Here, you’ll find comfortable, mid-price shopping options like Brookstone, Gap, Nine West, Macy's and Bath & Body Works.

Fort Lauderdale

The Galleria Mall on East Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale has Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor, Bebe, Hot Topic, Finish Line, Guess, Pottery Barn and more, plus all the familiar restaurants you like P.F. Chang's, Seasons 52, Blue Martini and the Capital Grille. And parking is a breeze with a color-coded garage for easy memory after you burn through your brain cells shopping.

On West Sunrise Boulevard in Sunrise, you’ll find the Sawgrass Mills, the largest outlet shopping mall in the United States with more than 350 stores including Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Marshalls and BrandsMart USA. Find luxury brands in the Colonnade Outlets at Sawgrass Mills just outside the mall, including Prada, David Yurman and the Salvatore Ferragamo Company Store.

If you’re venturing to Miami, don’t miss shopping (and people watching!) on the main drags of South Beach –Lincoln Road, Española Way, Washington Avenue, Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive, with luxury boutiques you’ll find only in Miami.

 

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