Shopping in Orlando
It probably won’t surprise you that Orlando is one of the top shopping destinations in the USA – there is, after all, an awful lot of tourist dollars washing around here. What might surprise you, however, is the sheer scope and variety of shops and outlets that you can visit in the Orlando area. When you’re shopping in Orlando, there really is something to suit every taste and every wallet.
You will have to add sales tax to the ticket price, but bargain-hunters can often off-set this with other discounts. It can often be worth checking store/ mall websites to check for discount or offers before visiting. Don’t be afraid to ask! For example, Macy’s offers an 11% discount for foreign visitors if you show your passport or driving licence at the customer service desk.
Mall at Millenia
The Mall at Millenia can be found at the Conroy Road exit of Interstate 4 (the I4). It has a good selection of upmarket shops; including the upmarket department stores Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales. This Mall has its fair share of designer shops, including Cartier, Chanel, BOSS, Jimmy Choo, and Michael Kors. But you’ll also find high-street labels like Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, J Crew, and True Religion. There’s also a Cheesecake Factory – one of my favourite Orlando eateries!
The Florida Mall is one of the largest in the State. You’ll find most mid-range stores here; shops like GUESS, Gap, Abercombie & Fitch, Nine West and Victoria’s Secret, plus the department stores Macys, Dillards, JC Penney and Sears. It’s located halfway between International Drive and Orlando International Airport – at the intersection of Orange Blossom Trail and Sand Lake Road.
We like to combine a half day here with a trip to Gatorland.
Premium Outlets (Vineland Road and International Drive)
There are now two Premium Outlets malls (aka shopping centres) in Orlando. They offer some great bargains and both locations have a good choice of stores. The original location on Vineland Avenue at the bottom end of International Drive (past SeaWorld) has over 160 outlet shops. Its website claims you can expect discounts of 25% – 65% at shops ranging from Diane von Furstenberg and Salvatore Ferragamo to Levis and Nike. The latest Orlando location of Premium Outlets is at the other end of International Drive in what was formerly the Belz mall. Here, you’ll find 180 discount shops, including labels as diverse as Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Oakley, Michael Kors, Nautica, American Apparel, Sean John, Timberland and Tommy Hilfiger.
Downtown Orlando is worth an explore, particularly if you prefer to browse bespoke boutiques and smaller speciality shops. Try the Thornton Park district, just East of Lake Eola, for a nice mix of boutiques and local restaurants. Perhaps one of the nicest ways to explore is the Thornton 2nd Thursday Wine and Art Walk. Join locals in celebrating the community, art and ‘partake in an evening of sights, sounds, food, shopping, and cosmopolitan fun’ (every second Thursday of the month).
The Newly revamped downtown Disney was relaunched as Disney Springs several years ago now, but it continues to go from strength to strength as a shopping, dining and entertainment venue. The more that 50 great eateries range from the Ghirardelli ice-cream parlour to House of Blues Smokehouse, and old favourite Raglan Road Irish pub to the Boathouse.
The shopping has a serious Disney focus (including my personal favourite, the Disney Pin Store!) – even at chocolate experience store The Ganachery. But you’ll also find the usual favourites too, like Anthropologie, L’Occitane, MAC, Kate Spade New York, American Threads and Havaianas.
Winter Park, to the North-East of Orlando and home to Rollins College and the Cornell Museum of Art, is full of neighbourhood charm and offers plenty of opportunity to wander downtown and browse the local speciality shops or lunch at one of the local restaurants. There is a farmers’ market every Saturday morning (7am – 1pm), located where Lyman Avenue meets New York Avenue. It also hosts an Autumn Art Festival and the Florida Film Festival in spring.
Celebration is one of my favourite Florida destinations – particularly for an evening out. In addition to the many charming neighbourhood restaurants, it has some great shopping! Although modelled on the small town America of the past, when residents would walk downtown to do their shopping, Celebration has been heralded as an early success of the ‘new urbanism’. You’ll find most of the shops on Market Street and the lakefront Front Street, with some spilling onto Bloom Street and Celebration Avenue.
The town hosts a farmers’ market on Sundays, on Sycamore Street, which runs along one side of Lakeside Park. Christmas is a great time to visit; the streets are full of carol singers – and even fake snow! – but the town also hosts a springtime Arts Festival and a local version of Oktoberfest.
Central Florida farmers’ markets
We’ve already mentioned the farmers’ markets in Celebration and Winter Park and a number of other regular markets run locally.
Kissimmee has its own small farmers’ market which runs every Tuesday (4pm – 7pm).
Downtown in Orlando you can find one of the largest and most well-established local famers’ markets. It runs from 10am until 4pm at Lake Eola Park. This isn’t just produce – you’ll also find art, crafts and food stalls.
Another popular market is the one at Lake Lily Park in the City of Maitland, which runs every Sunday 9am until 2pm.
Orlando flea markets
For a true (but slightly worn) taste of Americana, you could make a trip to a local flea market. There are plenty to choose from in Orlando. One of the most well-established is the 192 Flea Market in Kissimmee which is just off Highway 192 (US-192) and runs seven days a week (9am – 6pm). Weekends are a good time to go as you will also be able to trawl through car-boot-type booty – Saturday and Sundays are the days the 192 Flea Market opens up to garage-sale and yard-sale sellers. If you travel east along the US-192 towards St. Cloud you’ll come to the Osceola Flea and Farmers Market, which runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (8am – 5pm) and boasts some 900 stalls.
Organic food shopping
It is eminently possible to buy organic in Orlando. Many of the farmers’ markets have organic stalls (check before you buy!).
There are two large Whole Foods supermarkets in the Orlando area – both offer a good range of organic produce. One is located in the Doctor Phillips area (Turkey Lake Road close by the US-400) and the other is located on Aloma Avenue in Winter Park.
It may also be possible to arrange delivery of organic produce online using one of the organic home delivery services in the area. The most well-known are The Homegrown Coop on North Orange Avenue in Orlando and Orlando Organics. If you’d like to use one of these services, but are struggling to register, here at Ellis Exclusive Villas we do offer a shopping service as part of our concierge services. Let us know what you need before you travel and for a small fee we can ensure you get the products you want with minimum effort on your part.
For more information or advice, contact the Ellis Exclusive Villas team and we can send you a free information guide to the local area around your vacation home.