Shopping in Florida
We know there are many reasons why you come to Florida - the theme parks, the sunshine, the white sandy beaches, the friendly locals, the delicious food - the list is endless!
However, without a doubt, one of the most satisfying and rewarding things to do in the USA is shopping! Knowing what to buy and where to buy it means you can make unbelievable savings on UK shopping prices, in fact, some say you can recoup the cost of your airfare with the savings you can make while shopping out here! Florida has more than its fair share of fantastic premium and outlet malls, but how do you know where to go for the best bargains?
Well, that's where we come in! At Virgin Holidays we like to ensure you are making the most of your holiday whatever you are doing, so to help you shop till you drop, we've come up with a comprehensive directory of the best shopping malls in Florida!
Orlando may be home to some of the world's best-loved theme parks, but that's not all it's famous for. In fact, our research shows that after visiting the parks - your best-loved pastime when in the area is shopping - and boy have you come to the right place for that!
There are more than 1,300 stores in 9 malls plus 3 factory outlets, and if that wasn't enough there are flea markets, boutiques and specialist shops dotted all over the place.
Generally you can expect to pay in dollars what you would normally pay in pounds back home and with the favourable exchange rate - it's almost 2-for-1 on everything! With the generous baggage allowance on Virgin Atlantic of 2 pieces of luggage, at 23kg per piece, you'll be able to bring home literally everything but the kitchen sink!
Our shopping guide opposite shows you some of the best malls to visit and some top tips of what is the best to buy where - but do explore further afield for small independent shops selling designer gear and quirky souvenirs.
It's not just malls
Although we have featured Orlando's most popular malls on the page opposite, if you prefer specialist boutiques, thrift shops or designer arts and crafts, Orlando can accommodate every need. You just need to know where to look. Winter Park's Park Avenue has cobbled streets, open-air street cafés, designer boutiques and trendy galleries. It even has a weekly farmers market - you'll feel like you are in Greenwich Village in New York rather than central Florida! Downtown Orlando's Thornton Park is also becoming the hangout of arty types - there's some really hip restaurants and bars down there too.
It's not just shopping
Apart from shopping, the malls are packed with loads of other activities to entertain the family - so while the die-hard shoppers in your party feed their passion, there are lots of things to entertain the others. Most of the malls have cinema complexes on site or very nearby, so you could catch a film or enjoy a meal in one of the many restaurants. For something completely different at Festival Bay Mall there's an indoor skate park, glow-in-the-dark mini-golf and a surf pool with body boarding and wave-riding.
Shops for all ages
Don't worry - no one in the family need feel left out, there is absolutely something for everyone to spend their hard saved holiday money on.
All the malls have the popular American department stores such as Sears, Dillards and JC Penney, but you'll also find the world famous upmarket stores such as Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macys and Tiffany & Co, these all cater for every age range and every budget. However, if you want to keep the family happy - here are a few other ideas:
After the obvious choice of Disney and Universal® stores, how about the Build-A-Bear Workshop or the Playmobil Funpark at the Florida Mall. There's one of the biggest Lego stores in the world at DOWNTOWN DISNEY. For real toy bargains and new trends that aren't out at home yet, try K.B Toys at the Orlando Premium Outlet.
For the fashion conscious, they really need to check out Abercrombie & Fitch in the Florida Mall, but Urban Outfitters and American Eagle Outfitters at the Mall of Millennia will also have them returning home the coolest kids on the block.
This mega-discount mall is most definitely worth visiting - there are over 500 shops here so it's best to pick up a mall guide when you arrive and pick out the shops you particularly want to visit - that way you ensure you shop, without dropping!
International Plaza Mall
For those of you staying on the Gulf Coast, this mall is the best and easiest place to reach and offers over 200 stores ranging from up-market Neiman Marcus and Lord & Taylor to trendy clothing shops such as Quiksilver and Diesel.
A short drive from trendy South Beach in downtown Miami is this eclectic, waterside shopping centre which features favourite shops like Gap, Victoria's Secret Beauty, Nike, Foot Locker and Skechers, as well as smaller boutiques selling all sorts of trinkets, jewellery, arts and crafts! There are a number of dining establishments and often there's live entertainment on the main stage or street performers wandering around.
Lincoln Road Mall
This pedestrian-only outdoor street mall is right in the heart of South Beach and features a range of speciality shops, galleries, diverse cafés and restaurants. The unique feature of this mall is that it's outside so you get to enjoy the sunshine as you go from shop to shop!