Florida's Best Places to Go Boutiquing

    By Kanika Jelks

    Shopping is fun and personal at these stores and shopping areas.

    Looking for antiques? Make your way to Mount Dora. Searching for a sale? Can’t beat Orlando’s outlets…but if boutique shopping is what makes your heart flutter, you can find wonderful one-of-a-kind boutiques throughout the state.

    Shopping Districts

    From specialty boutiques to entire districts dedicated solely to the area’s best shopping, Florida doesn’t disappoint. In South Tampa you’ll find more boutiques than your shopping heart can handle.

    Let’s start with Pink Palm, a sweet boutique that not only specializes in Lilly Pulitzer, it is the only signature Lilly store in Tampa. This brightly colored brand has been a staple of the Florida fashion scene for generations, and Pink Palm keeps the Tampa crowd ready for wear with matching prints for every member of the family. Just down the road, you’ll find Deborah Kent’s women’s fashions boutique. For more than 30 years, this “best-of” boutique has been catering to the tastes of Tampa’s most discriminating dressers. Deborah Kent’s is best known for creating wardrobes for their customers that include an outfit for every occasion – but this stellar store is also a great place to turn for that one-time, one-of-a-kind buy.

    In Palm Beach, land of the big-brand boutique, your shopping expectations will be exceeded, maybe even redefined. All of the world-famous brands you’ve come to admire are set beautifully in a row I like to think of as boutique heaven. Worth Avenue, which recently had a $15 million renovation and facelift and is often referred to as “Rodeo Drive of the East,” is the hub of Palm Beach’s best boutiques, including the chic fashions of Chanel and Giorgio’s, trendsetting trailblazers who’ve been setting the pace for decades. And, the scene stays fresh with big splash entrances from well-known designers such as Badgley Mischka - the newest names to light up the avenue. With an address as posh as the purses and pumps stored inside (Bulgari previously called this hot spot home), the store has been helping Florida fashionistas make their way through the holidays since last December. 

    Next stop: Jacksonville. In The Shoppes of Avondale, within the Historic Riverside/Avondale neighborhood, hip meets high fashion in an eclectic mix of cool little shops that will transform any window shopper into a boutique buyer. And across the River, San Marco Square, just five minutes from the hustle and bustle of downtown, offers a beautiful promenade of boutique shopping.

    St. Armands Circle in Sarasota connects everyday pleasures and extraordinary treasures with a wide range of boutique offerings that all share a common commitment to exquisite quality and presentation. One of the best boutiques on the block is Brighton Collectibles, a fabulous line of accessories, handbags and collectibles that will provide you with your very own Florida signature style. And, men look like models after leaving St. Armands’ Tommy Bahama shop. In this laidback, lounge-like shop, you’ll find not only what you need for great Florida fashion, but a whole lifestyle.

    If the S in Sarasota stands for shopping, then the S in Sandestin equals one thing – style. The Village of Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort includes more than 30 specialty boutiques and shops in a quaint seaside resort village, perfectly suited for a romantic getaway. Some stores among this trove of treasures reign supreme. Chief among them is The Candymaker, a niche boutique filled with sweets. Here you’ll find all your Southern favorites: candy apples and saltwater taffy, pralines and handmade peanut butter cups. Try some tasty treats in the store and be sure to take some home for later.

    At Island Clothiers you’ll find fashion for the whole family. Whether you love the throw-back preppy look of Lacoste or consider yourself more of a Free People brand kind of person, you’ll find your perfect look at this boutique where the prices are as hot as the clothes they sell.


    Children’s Boutiques


    I’m particularly fond of the state’s children’s boutiques. Here in Florida you’ll find big fashion for our favorite tiny tots. Ever-increasing in popularity, stores full of frilly fashions for little girls and dapper duds for little boys are on every Florida boutique scene.

    Baby Alexandra is a wonderland of specialty children’s items. Nestled in Palm Beach Gardens, it is best known as the place to always find the items that seem impossible to locate. Here you’ll delight in such treasures as a beautiful high chair cover kissed by a pattern of pink hibiscus or a fairy tale princess tutu straight out of a storybook.


    Bathing Suit Boutiques


    The boutique spectrum stretches far and wide in Florida -- one of the few places a bathing suit boutique seems like second nature. With year-round sunshine, looking your best in a bathing suit is serious fashion business.

    Vilebrequin in Bal Harbour specializes in men’s swimwear. The store’s name is actually the French word for crankshaft, a salute to the founder’s passion for cars. While the timeless style of the brand’s signature board shorts is unmistakable, the brand remains relevant and cutting edge with cool graphic designs that come in at least four colors for each print. 

    Florida’s best places to boutique are all distinguished by their exclusive brands and experiences, offered in an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere, with insightful store attendants and wardrobe and specialty options that help create not just a look but a lifestyle.

    If You Go

    Pink Palm, 1532 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, FL 33629; 813-259-9780, www.pinkpalmflorida.com

    Deborah Kent’s, 2120 A South Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, FL 33629; 813-259-1150 www.deborahkents.com

    Badgley Mischka, 251 Worth Ave., Palm Beach, FL 33480; 561-655-0721 www.badgleymischka.com

    Brighton Collectibles, 443B John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, FL 34236; 941-388-3230 www.brightoncollectibles.com

    Tommy Bahama, 371 St. Armands Cir, Sarasota, FL 34236; 941-388-2446 www.tommybahama.com

    Village of Baytowne Wharf at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, 9300 Emerald Coast Pkwy. W., Destin, FL 32550; (850) 267-8000 www.baytownewharf.com

    Vilebrequin Bal Harbour, Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour, FL 33154; 305-861-4022