Florida has much more to offer than just sun. If you love to shop, some of the best malls in the country can be found here. Makes sense, too… if you’re going to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, you’d better have great places for them to shop.
Here’s our favorites, starting at the bottom of the state, and working our way up.
Not only is it home to The Miami Dolphins NFL team, and the bikini clad women of South Beach…Miami has some great malls.
Our picks in Miami are:
This 2015 TripAdvisor winner sits about 15min West of downtown, just off the Dolphin Expressway.
With 240 shops, Dolphin Mall is the largest mall in Miami. Some of the biggest names in the world such as Sony and Nike can be found here, so this really should not be considered what most people would call an “outlet” mall (although factory outlet pricing can be had).
The mall also has plenty to do for the rest of the clan while mom shops. There are movie theaters, arcade games, bowling and even a stage where regular acts can be found.
When you get hungry, you can choose from an array of restaurants ranging from Charcoal’s Latin Grill to Burger King and Buffalo Wild Wings, with Dave and Busters also available for some fun.
All in all, a great place to spend a day.
Dolphin Mall may be the biggest mall in Miami, but if you venture 40min north, you will find the biggest mall in the state.
Sawgrass Mills is more of a MegaMall experience than just a shopping center, and you can literally “shop til you drop” here. The mall is so large, they offer a VIP “bags free” shopping experience where travelers can literally check their bags directly to Ft Lauderdale or Miami airports (or shipped to them anywhere)!
As you would expect, there are plenty of other activities to participate in here from outdoor dining to a complete IMAX experience.
If you only have time to visit one mall, this should be your choice, but give yourself plenty of time. This is not the place to just run in and grab a few things.
Now, if the big city shopping experience is not your thing, we figured we had to include Bayside Marketplace.
This little gem is an outdoor retail, food and entertainment marketplace wrapped around Biscayne Bay. Granted, no big time awards for having rollercoasters inside, this is a great little market located downtown (only 15min from Central Miami or Miami Beach) where you can get all your accessories, gifts and a bite to eat. Perfect for the tourist who has many sights to see.
For those that think that the only treats that Orlando offers are Mickey Mouse souvenirs and hotels, we’d like to put those rumors to rest. Orlando is a great retail shopping destination, and are favorites are listed here.
Orlando Premium Outlets
Anyone who like to shop, knows the Premium Outlets. This is the country’s largest outlet chain, and the fact that they have two properties here, should be enough to show anyone that shopping in Orlando is for real.
There probably isn’t a big named brand that you cannot fined here, and both properties are loaded with them all. In reality, it’s not necessary to visit both locations (fearing you may have missed something), as they both have almost similar tenant lists.
The International Drive mall is about 20min south of downtown Orlando, and Vineland Avenue mall is about another 10min. Both offer 20-65% off factory pricing daily and are open til 11PM.
The Florida Mall
About 15min south and 30min east of Disney World, sits The Florida Mall, central Florida’s largest retail space. With 1.9 million square feet of shopping space, this is like a city within a city. There more stores and food vendors in this one mecca, than your shopping day could probably handle.
Moms will especially love this mall, as there is a massive selection of fashions for everyone, with an emphasis towards women and children. Nobody gets left off the gift list here.
The Mall at Milenia
This mall is what we’ll call the most well rounded. The Mall at Millenia has over 150 stores and restaurants, with everything from bargains to high-end chains.
This is a place that you will find the locals frequenting most, as there are year-round activities here, including fashion showcases, expo events, kids activities and of course…sales! There isn’t a taste or sweet tooth that can’t be satisfied as you shop, so leave the candy and snacks in the car.
You can find this little locals secret about 15min southeast of downtown and about 30min for Disney.
The gulf coast of Florida covers everything from Ft. Meyers to Tampa and beyond. It’s not easy to compete with all that can be found in this vast region, but we’ve picked a few of the most noteworthy places to stop in and get some gear.
With such a big area to cover, it only makes sense to start with the biggest factory outlet location in southwest Florida. Miromar Outlets can be found about 30min north of Naples, and 25min south of Ft Meyers.
Although there are over 140 stores here, there is a focus on community and locals love the activities. Throughout the year there are events such as kids crafts, Science Sunday, community day and Moms appreciation day. Clothing is what you’ll find most, but as you can see there are many other retail categories here, including plenty for kids.
Ellenton Premium Outlets
Here we see another property in the Premium Outlets chain, but since we’re in Tampa Bay here, you’d expect the giant to accommodate those that know and love the brand.
About 50min from Tampa, and 30min from St Pete’s, sits Ellenton Premium Outlets. As you know, these guys offer over 130 stores, with all the big brands that you expect to find at Premium. With the usual food and activities found at all their properties, we felt it necessary to include, so after your day at the beach, you could drop in and get your shopping fix.
Not necessarily the “best for last” but the Waterside Shops at Pelican Bay is certainly one of the favorites. Certainly not for the bargain shopper, this is at the upper end scale of the shopping experience, and is a smaller version of The Mall at Millenia in Orlando.
For those that enjoy the highr end experience, travel about 10min north of Naples to Pelican Bay, where you will enjoy valet service, a concierge and “sip n shop Sundays” that includes a bloody mary and mimosa bar set up in the pavilion area surrounded by fountains, waterfalls and live entertainment.
Whatever your shopping fancy, you can find it in Florida. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can only find stuffy people and tourist traps. This list is only a fraction of the great shopping that is to be had here. Next time you come, leave some room in your suitcase…you sure won’t have any trouble stuffing it.
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