Florida shopping can be as simple as buying a souvenir: a sea glass necklace from Hutchinson Island, a pair of Mickey ears from Disney’s Magic Kingdom or astronaut ice cream from Kennedy Space Center.
Florida is home to a vast array of big-brand stores, boutique shopping outlets as well as top-name shops scattered throughout the state. Whether you're a fan of busy shopping malls, the hustle and bustle of shopping outlets or the tranquil, relaxed pace of coastal strip malls, there's something for everyone who's looking to shop in Florida.
But beyond scoring a keepsake to commemorate your vacation, shopping in Florida is an opportunity to find items as diverse as the shells on Florida’s beaches.
State of the arts
With its cotton candy sunsets, dreamlike landscapes and exotic animal life, Florida has inspired countless artists. So visitors shouldn’t be surprised to find a flourishing arts scene that serves as a muse for culture-loving shoppers.
Visit the Highwaymen Art Gallery in New Smyrna Beach and invest in a masterpiece by the storied African-American painters. Spend an afternoon at St. Petersburg’s Salvador Dalí Museum — the largest collection of the artist’s work outside of his native Spain — and take home a souvenir “melting clock.” And just imagine reading a biography of Ernest Hemingway that you purchased at the famed author’s home in Key West. Now that’s a novel idea.
A breath of fresh air
Florida offers an abundance of outdoor activities, from surfing to stand-up paddleboarding to — you guessed it — shopping. And with no snow or ice to slow you down, al fresco retail therapy just might be your new favorite year-round “sport.”
For Florida shoppers who prefer an independent vibe, there are a plethora of outdoor markets. Shop for local produce, one-of-a-kind jewelry, potted plants and more in an atmosphere of live music and some of the best people-watching (and dog-watching) anywhere. Watch a crafting demo at Tallahassee’s Railroad Square Art Park, do morning yoga at Jacksonville’s Riverside Arts Market, and take part in one of the largest weekly gatherings in the Southeastern United States at St. Petersburg’s Saturday Morning Market.
Bargain hunters will find paradise at Florida’s outdoor outlet malls, scoring deals on everything from designer handbags to jewelry to luggage for carrying home all their purchases.
When it comes to Florida shopping, weather has a particular effect on one category: clothing.
“What makes Florida’s fashion scene unique is the diversity and consistent climate,” says Nancy Vaughn, principal, public relations and marketing director at White Book Agency, a fashion and lifestyle agency. “Also, the state has people from various parts of the world who bring their own sense of style — from the native Floridian to the international jet setter to the snowbirds.”
Upscale venues like Orlando’s Mall at Millenia and the Worth Avenue Shopping District in Palm Beach cater to fashionistas who favor well-known brands, while the Miami area is a goldmine for international designers that’ll have your friends asking, “Where’d you buy that?”
Of course, flip-flops are fine, too.
Even the person who has everything can appreciate an edible souvenir. Bring home a bottle of bold hot sauce from Peppers of Key West, a box of almost-too-pretty-to-eat bonbons from William Dean Chocolates in Belleair Bluffs or bottle of vino from one of many Florida Orange Groves Winery locations.
Uncork a bottle and toast to all your wonderful vacation memories.