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Shopping Options Nearly Endless in Orlando

April 7, 2014 Lifestyle No Comments Email Email

From Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton to a pair of Mickey Mouse ears or a Harry Potter wand, the diversity and quality of shopping is like no other.

And while there are plenty of neighborhood shops worth a visit, there’s a day’s worth of treasures right in the heart of the tourism district. All are within a 20-minute drive, from luxury malls to top-notch outlets and theme park shopping.

GREAT BUYS IN THE TOURISM DISTRICT 

Encompassing a strip of Southwest Orlando, the tourism district is home to the area’s most upscale mall, Central Florida’s largest mall and three outlet shopping centers, all within approximately 15 minutes of each other.

The stylish Mall at Millenia offers everything from the latest Apple gadgets to high-end retailers such as Neiman Marcus, St. Laurent Paris, Prada, Tiffany & Co. and Cartier.  There’s high fashion from Bloomingdale’s to H&M, Tory Burch to C. Wonder.  With more than 150 stores and 1.1 million square feet (102,193 square meters) of retail space, there’s something for every taste as well as valet parking, full-service concierge and currency exchange.165032_num694293_600x600

Just minutes away from Orlando International Airport, The Florida Mall is the area’s largest shopping experience, with more than 250 stores and 1.8 million square feet (167,225 square meters), including Nordstrom, Coach, MAC Cosmetics and playful shops such as Build-A-Bear, the M&M Store and Polaroid FOTOBAR. Just announced are plans to expand the food pavilion and the addition of two restaurants and new retailers, including Michael Kors, Original Penguin, and The Art of Shaving.

For shopping combined with fun,Pointe Orlando in the heart of the attractions area on International Drive is a diverse collection of outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment venues. Home to Central Florida’s biggest IMAX screen, the Orlando Improv Comedy Club & Dinner Theatre and the “upside-down” interactive WonderWorks, this outdoor shopping center keeps visitors entertained between purchases.  Shopping skews to a younger buyer with shops such as Armani Exchange, Hollister, Victoria’s Secret and Tommy Hilfiger.

Festival Bay Mall at International Drive is in the midst of a major makeover to include new retail concepts opening in 2014, but it continues to be home to the popular Shepler’s Western Wear and Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.

Three outstanding outlet centers are right in the heart of the tourism district. For discounted merchandise, Orlando Premium Outlets – Vineland Ave has more than 150 outlet stores including Armani, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, CH Carolina Herrera, Diane Von Furstenberg, Elie Tahari, Coach and Nike.

A second Orlando Premium Outlets – International Dr offers more than 180 stores, including the U.S. outlet for Baccarat/Lalique, the only Victoria’s Secret outlet in the Southeast and the only 7 for All Mankind outlet (at both Premium Outlets) in the area. Savvy shoppers can enlist the services of a personal shopper at Last Call by Neiman Marcus or at Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th.

Just one mile (1.6 kilometers) from Walt Disney World Resort, the Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores offer a free shuttle to and from 60 hotels.  The center features the only outlet for Lindt, the premium Swiss chocolate; the area’s only Old Navy outlet; Rawlings Factory Store sporting goods, one of only four in the world; Eddie Bauer; Izod and Nine West. A Disney characters shop offers hundreds of items.  All in all, there are 400 designer names in 50 village-style shops.

Both Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort have their own shopping and entertainment complexes: Downtown Disney features more than 40 stores including the world’s largest Disney character store, plus dining and entertainment. Universal CityWalkoffers more than a dozen shops and boutiques, from Quiet Flight Surf Shop to the gift shop in NBA City and the Universal Studios Store. There are plenty of spots for lunch or dinner, bars and clubs plus entertainment venues.

SHOPPING WORTH A DRIVE 

For a change of pace, three key shopping districts showcase Orlando’s eclectic side: Winter Park, North Orange Avenue in Orlando and Thornton Park in downtown Orlando.

Winter Park offers a whole different look at life in Central Florida with brick streets, historic buildings and a mini-version of Manhattan’s Central Park. The main shopping is 10 tree-lined blocks on Park Avenue, with nearby Hannibal Square offering additional shopping and dining.  Visitors will find everything from high-end footwear and designer lingerie to fine wines and pooch-friendly pastries. National retailers like Restoration Hardware, Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn share sidewalk space with locally-owned boutiques.

Thornton Park,a colorful commercial district just east of Lake Eola in downtown Orlando, a local favorite where you can shop the latest trends at Zou Zou Boutique or design a custom t-shirt at Mother Falcon. More than a dozen lounges and restaurants create a lively atmosphere.

North Orange Avenue, located along Orlando’s Lake Ivanhoe, is comprised of locally-owned antique stores, vintage clothing shops and one-of-a-kind gifts. Rock & Roll Heaven still sells vinyl LPs and singles for as little as $1. Washburn Imports features one-of-a-kind furnishing from India, Thailand and Indonesia (with Imperial Wine Bar & Beer Garden in the middle of the store).  Déjà vu Vintage Clothing offers clothing and accessories, some dating back to 1940s.

Visitors looking for antiques and collectibles, as well as local art galleries, can venture to small, historic downtown areas of Kissimmee and St. Cloud. Both are part of Central Florida’s history, and the buildings reflect a bygone era. Lanier’s Historic Downtown Marketplace in Kissimmee is 18,000 square feet (1,672 square meters) of antiques and just down Main Street is Makinson Hardware, founded in 1884, the oldest hardware store still operating in Florida.

INTERESTING FINDS, DISTINCTIVE KEEPSAKES

For discoveries with a local flair, here are some favorite destinations:

The Orange History Regional History Center Emporium in downtown Orlando carries items that reflect the cultural history of Central Florida, such as rare vintage photographs, quirky Florida souvenirs, delicious Florida treats and classic toys and books, along with seasonal merchandise.

The Museum Shop at the Orlando Museum of Art is the place to find unusual buys like Chihuly glass and creative, one-of-a-kind jewelry, paintings, sculptures and crafts by Florida artists.

City Arts Factory is downtown’s largest collective of art galleries and the place to find original art by local, national and international artists.

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art features the world’s largest collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany and The Museum Shop features exclusive merchandise derived from the works of Tiffany, including jewelry, stained-glass panels, glass bowls and vases, and a wide range of items inspired by other artists in the museum’s collection. The shop also carries an extensive selection of books on the art of Tiffany and late 19th and early 20th-Century decorative art.

Just off the lobby of the Grand Bohemian Hotel in downtown Orlando, theGrand Bohemian Gallery features an eclectic collection of paintings, photography, sculpture, glass and jewelry by internationally and locally renowned artists.

LOCAL FOODIE FAVORITES 

Orlando’s blossoming locavore scene includes the new East End Market, weekly farm markets and a farm worth a visit. Plus an expanding neighborhood of Vietnamese, Korean, Thai and Chinese restaurants and storefronts known as Mills 50 bring authentic Asian cuisine and shopping to adventurous visitors.

Ancient Olive, located in Park Ave., Winter Park, is the first tasting bar in Central Florida for ultra-premium extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the globe.

East End Market – This brand new neighborhood market and food hub, located in the eclectic neighborhood of Audubon Park, first opened its doors in October 2013. Showcasing ten independently-owned businesses offering local produce, daily baked bread, Italian prepared meals and sweets, organic juice, artisan cheeses and more. Coming soon to the market is Txokos Basque Kitchen, a new culinary concept from James Beard Award nominee Henry Salgado of Spanish River Grill.

Orlando’s farmers markets worth a visit:

Visitors can head out to Orlando’s countryside for some fresh air (and fresh eggs) at Lake Meadow Naturals farm in Ocoee, Just minutes from the major attractions, farmer Dale Volkert opens his egg farm to the public with tours and a farm store on property.

Most visitors head to the Mills 50 district for the authentic Asian restaurants, but the neighborhood grocery stores like Tien Hung Oriental Foods Market are also a treat, with exotic produce and spices and unusual Asian ingredients.  Or head to Dong A Imports for gifts and imported goods, including elegant textiles.

Spice and Tea Exchange in Park Ave., Winter Park, offers a huge selection of gourmet spices; including an assortment of chili powders, cheese powders and smoked powders.

For more information about vacation experiences in Orlando, to order a complimentary vacation planning kit that includes a comprehensive Official Visitors Guide and Orlando Magicard® or to purchase discount attraction tickets, visitors can log onto Orlando’s official website at VisitOrlando.com or call an Official Travel Counselor at 1-800-551-0181 (United States and Canada) or 407-363-5872. For real time updates, follow us on Twitter atTwitter.com/VisitOrlando or Facebook at Facebook.com/VisitOrlando. Visitors may stop by the Official Visitor Center located at 8723 International Drive.

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