Archive - December, 2011

Shopping In Orlando, Florida: The Best Places To Find Theme Park Souvenirs

Orlando Souvenirs- Disney World & Universal Outlets

So you’re coming to Orlando- in between the shopping trips, you plan a few theme park visits, and of course you’ll need some trinkets to bring home to your family and friends. But DON’T buy them at the parks! You’ll just end up toting huge bags to the parking lots and paying four times as much as you should. Both Disney and Universal Studios have outlets in Orlando that sell their theme park souvenirs at deep discounts.

Disney calls their shops by different names so you won’t know at first glance that they are Disney outlets. They have the same items you’ll find in the parks for 40%-90% off retail. So you can pick up your favorite authentic character t-shirts, toys, even collectibles, without getting gouged at the park. Orlando Premium Outlets International Drive, located right near Universal Studios, has a big Disney outlet called Disney’s Character Warehouse. Orlando Premium Outlets Vineland, down the road from Downtown Disney, has a Disney’s Character Premiere store with lots of great merchandise direct from the parks.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios

Universal Studios offers excellent values at their outlet, the Universal Orlando Store at Festival Bay Mall. This is an attractive mall with lots of great restaurants and a luxurious movie theater, located right down the street from the Orlando Premium Outlets International Drive. It is just about a five minute drive from Universal Studios. They often run EXTRA 50% off sales so you can get anything in the store for half-off the lowest price.  Universal also has clearance stores in both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, both are located directly to the right of the main park exits. They offer park merchandise at a discount of 50% or more.

Check out these Orlando outlet stores and next time you’re looking for theme park souvenirs, you’ll get much more for your money.

St. Augustine Outlets: A New Must-Visit Designer Shopping Destination!

The last thing you may expect to see while driving down I-95 in the middle of Northwest Florida is a giant tower emblazoned with the GUCCI logo. But there it is, right by the side of the road, and it beckons serious shoppers to Florida’s newest luxury shopping outlet in St. Augustine.

This new outlet mall is on the former site of a Belz outlet, which was tired, run-down and frankly full of junk.  But it has been re-imagined into a serious mecca for designer bargains, and is now called St. Augustine Outlets.

The main draw for this outlet center is the Gucci Outlet store, one of only 8 in the U.S., and the only one in Florida. This store offers new, authentic Gucci merchandise, at prices of about 50% off retail.

If you’re a Gucci fanatic or need to buy a gift for one, this is the place to go. They have an ever-changing assortment of Gucci handbags, men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, shoes, luggage, and more. There are plenty of things to drool over and dream, or splurge and treat yourself!

The rest of the outlet mall is full of hot designer names as well, with new stores continuing to open each month. The discounts at this outlet center tend to be very good, and all of the stores have great selections to choose from.  The Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth is especially good, with a large clearance section that’s frequently marked an extra 50% off.

I’ve also made some great finds at the Kate Spade outlet, it’s worth checking out their clearance tables since some of the fine leather wallets and handbags are deeply discounted. I’ve found nice leather wallets for about $39 at this store, and purses for under $100.  If you’re in the market for leather handbags and accessories, be sure to also check out the Michael Kors, Kenneth Cole, and Dooney & Bourke outlets.

If you’re on the way to, or home from Walt Disney World, this outlet mall is the perfect place to stock up on souvenirs and gifts from the theme parks. Compared to the two Orlando Disney outlets, this store has a MUCH better selection and lower prices.

They have clothing featuring any and all Disney characters and rides, Disney Cruise line logo items, and plenty of Disney toys, all marked 50% to 90% lower than in the theme parks.  You’ll even find limited edition Disney merchandise like Giuseppe Armani and Lenox collectible figures, watches, and pin sets.

Next time you’re planning a trip on I-95 in northwest Florida, be sure to fit in a stop at the St. Augustine Outlets on the East side of the interstate. And if that doesn’t satisfy your bargain shopping cravings, there’s another outlet mall, Premium Outlets, right across the street!


Silver Sands Outlet Mall In Destin, Florida- The Ultimate Shopping & Beach Day!

The Silver Sands Outlet Mall in Destin is one of my favorite shopping spots for many reasons, but the most wonderful one is location. It’s right across the street from the gorgeous Emerald Coast, so close that you can smell the sea air while you’re shopping.  A trip to Destin is the ultimate way to combine my three passions- shopping, gelato and beach trips!

Even without the beachside setting, this Florida outlet mall has a lot to recommend it. There is a good selection of over 100 outlets, with an excellent mixture of high-end designers and mid-priced retailers.  And Silver Sands Outlets makes it easy to enjoy a shopping day with the family, with convenient parking and a very cool playground for the kids!

Must-Visit Shops

In addition to the outlet staples like Nike, Reebok, Gap, Banana Republic, they have some of the harder to find shops. The Juicy Couture, Tumi, and Michael Kors outlets are popular new additions to the center. They also have a Bare Escentuals outlet: this is the company that makes the amazing Bare Minerals makeup, and they offer some great deals here.

The Coach store is always popular, and the Destin location is stocked with many items from the full-price stores at serious markdowns. If you’re looking for watches, make sure to check out the Fossil store.   They carry not only Fossil watches but also Michael Kors, Emporio Armani and Burberry timepieces at excellent prices.


Amazing Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet

My favorite Silver Sands store is the Off Fifth Saks Fifth Avenue. It’s HUGE: two full levels of shopping space, and chock-full of designer deals. I’ve visited Off Fifth stores all over the U.S., and this one DEFINITELY offers the best values anywhere.  You can score some especially great bargains if you go in the wintertime.  Winter is the off-season for Destin, so the merchandise doesn’t move as quickly and therefore gets seriously discounted. They have a high-end designer section where I’ve bought a Giuseppe Armani jacket, a Burberry skirt, a Valentino dress, and some St. John dress pants, all for under $50 each. It’s really worth your while to dig through all of the clearance racks, especially when they are marked an extra 50% off, because the markdowns are really extreme at this store, and you can get unheard-of deals on some great wardrobe pieces.

Best Outlet Mall Food Anywhere!

If you’re shopping at Silver Sands Outlet Mall, be sure to stop in for lunch or a snack at San Gelato Cafe. This chic little eatery serves delicious panini sandwiches, salads, and coffee drinks. But the real draw is their handmade gelato, and it’s the real thing, just like you get in Italy. Real gelato can be very hard to find in Florida, and an outlet mall is the last place I’d expect to track it down, but here it is, and it’s amazing!  And one more tip- be sure to go online to the Silver Sands Outlet Mall website before your trip to print out a voucher for a free coupon book. There’s some great coupons in there to make your shopping score in Destin even better!