By Stephanie Hayes
If shopping’s your bag, you’ll find it in Florida. Here's a roundup of some of the best places to shop in Florida where you can find whatever you might possibly want or need.
Head to the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk for shopping, dining and entertainment in Pensacola Beach. You’ll find both men's and women's beach-to-bay fashions at Envie Boutique, swimsuits and beach gear at Islanders Coastal Outfitter 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 and Bistro offers weekly wine tastings every Friday from 5pm-7pm.
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, Chico's, Old Navy and American Eagle Outfitters. And when you're ready to nosh, Red Robin and Macaroni Grill are ready for you.
Destin / Sandestin
Destin features beach resorts, world-renowned golf courses and yes, plenty of the best places to shop in Florida. If you're ready to get into some serious savings, check out Silver Sands Premium Outlets in Destin, with nearly 100 outlet stores from Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Coach, Columbia, Gap Outlet, J.Crew, Michael Kors, Nike, and Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th. Check the website first to read up on ever-changing in-store promotions.
Destin Commons, an outdoor shopping mall, is lined with lush palm trees and gorgeous fountains and offers train rides for the kids. Unique boutiques for women include Luxe Apothetique and All Dressed-Up Boutique & Gifts or stop by Maui Nix Durf Shop for all of your beach vacation necessities.
The Village at Baytowne Wharf is an outdoor shopping and eating area located in the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort. The gorgeous wharf offers fishing, activities such as a ropes course and golf challenge, bustling nightlife, and stores like the Barefoot Princess and Island Clothiers for women and men’s clothing, and Aloha Surf Company for beach basics.
Along the highway in Destin, you’ll find various flea markets, antique shops and more boutiques. Don’t miss local favorite Kikki Risa for women’s clothes including a wall of special occasion dresses.
Ten miles west on highway 30A you’ll find Rosemary Beach. This area offers signature white-sand beaches, and a handful of adorable shops and eateries. Be sure to stop by clothing stores Willow, Bombora Sun & Surf and Rosemary Beach Trading Company, and furniture spot Tracery.
Just a mile further on highway 30A sits Seacrest Beach. You won’t want to miss local hot spot and swimwear boutique, Ophelia.
Another eight miles down the coastal highway 30A you’ll find the shops at Seaside. White picket fences line the circle of picturesque shops and restaurants, and you’ll find easy beach access right behind some of Florida's best shops. Open-air boutique Perspicasity offers a unique concept and aesthetically pleasing take on shopping. Deja Vu is perhaps the most well-known boutique along 30A, with tons of trendy, fashionable clothing and accessories for under $100. Other hot spots include men and women’s boutiques Willow + Woods and Mercantile, and specialty shops Sundog Books and ONO Surf Shop.
A mile further down 30A is Watercolor. This beach resort offers shops and restaurants that are definitely worth the stop. Barefoot Princess offers a full line of Lily Pulitzer dresses and accessories, The Fuss Boutique has trendy and bohemian styles for women and pick up your beach essentials at Old Florida Outfitters, Beachfolly or The WaterColor Store. Finally, kids’ boutique Little Red and art and décor boutique The Blue Giraffe are must-sees.
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 more than 120 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. Other highlights include unique boutiques The Florida House and Francesca’s Collections and Florida favorite Ron Jon’s Surf Shop.
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.
In Tampa, the place to see and be seen is International Plaza and Bay Street, the most upscale shopping stop in Tampa. 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, Guess, J.Crew, Kate Spade, 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 Chico's and White House Black Market and boutiques with gifts for your kids to gifts for your pets.
For more Fort Myers finds, discover close to 50 retailers at Bell Tower Shops, a mix of boutiques and shopping staples from Banana Republic to Williams-Sonoma to Jos. A. Bank to Talbots. For the post-shopping binge, visit one of the center's thirteen restaurants, including Bistro 41, Crü, DaRuMa Japanese Steak House, Grimaldi's Coal Brick-Oven 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.
Before you head to Mallory Square to witness one of Key West's world famous sunsets, venture into Clinton Square Market for a Key West shopping experience, 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.
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 Tren-D 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 shopping malls, including the Florida Mall or The Mall at Millenia. And Orlando wouldn't be a tourist destination without a quality outlet center. This city offers many of the best places to shop in Florida.
The Orlando Premium Outlets are brimming with deals from stores like J. Crew, Nine West and Armani Exchange, and take your cues from the tourists toting suitcases, trying to fill up on as many deals as possible before heading back overseas.
Experience the thrill of the hunt at Avonlea Antiques 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.
Palm Beach / 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, Hermes, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren and Kate Spade. 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 Anthropologie, H&M, Victoria's Secret, Macy's and Bath & Body Works.
The Galleria Mall on East Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale has Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor, Bebe, Finish Line, 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 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.