Archive - January, 2012

Florida Mall- The Ultimate Orlando Tourist Shopping Destination!

Zara Store Florida Mall OrlandoLocated right near the airport, close to International Drive and the theme parks, Florida Mall is a tourist mecca. On any given day, you’ll run into hundreds of shoppers from all around the globe, looking to snap up all the best that American shopping has to offer.  But it’s not just for tourists: Florida Mall has great outposts of all the major brands, and some fun, unusual stores that keep locals like me coming back week after week.

My favorite store at Florida Mall is Dillards. This is a major department store that’s really big in the south, and this one is the best I’ve seen anywhere. They have an excellent men’s department, lots of dresses and swimwear for women, and their handbag and shoe selection is quite comprehensive. For the best deals, watch their Facebook page or sign up for their promotional e-mails. That’s the only way to find out when they’re running their blowout sales, where they take an extra 30% to 50% off all clearance items.

Express Florida Mall OrlandoExpress is a  great place to shop for ladies clothing. Year after year, they offer well-made, on-trend fashions for work, casual, and weekend wear. They also have excellent sales, which are irresistible when they take an extra 50% off all clearance items. Express is definitely your best bet if you’re looking for jackets or pants for work, and they also make my favorite jeans in the world- try the Stella fit!

M&M World Florida Mall OrlandoBesides serious shopping, Florida Mall has lots of fun things to do. It’s really easy to make a day of it, checking out all the fun shops and restaurants. M&M world is loads of fun, it’s bright and colorful, with lots of games to play. M&M fans won’t be able to resist making a custom mix of all their favorite M&M colors and flavors.

Dylan's Candy Bar at Florida Mall OrlandoSugar-seekers should make sure to visit Dylan’s Candy Bar. With bouncy, cheerful music and a variety of rare candy from all over the world, it’s a paradise for candy-holics. They have lots of cute clothing and candy-related accessories as well.

Disney Store Florida Mall OrlandoCharming Charlie’s is a new, small chain of stores that is the best place for finding the perfect accessory. They have a decadent array of cleverly arranged tables, sorted by color and style, where you are sure to find the finishing touch to any ensemble.  And if you didn’t get your fill of souvenirs at Disney World, you can stop by the Disney Store, located right near the Food Court, to pick up some more. They also sell Disney World tickets, which can save you a stop if you’re planning on theme park hopping while in Orlando.

H&M Florida Mall OrlandoH&M is a new addition to Florida Mall. They specialize in trendy, European designs, at amazing prices. The price points are mostly under $40, and the items are quite well made. When they have sales you’ll find jeans, sweaters, coats, and more for $5, so the sales racks are always worth a look.

When planning your visit, keep in mind the that Florida Mall is the busiest of all of Orlando’s shopping areas. During the holidays, it can be nearly impossible to find a parking spot, and it’s often so crowded inside the mall that it takes all the fun out of shopping. To avoid the crowds, the best times to visit are early in the day on weekdays. Sometimes you’ll need a break from your shopping, and there are plenty of nice restaurants like Buca de Beppo, California Pizza Kitchen, and the very fun Mochi Frozen Yogurt.

Starbucks Florida Mall Orlando

Right in the middle of the food court, there’s a Starbucks that is always packed, with very long lines. But for a more relaxing coffee experience, just head around the corner, towards the Florida Mall Hotel, and there’s a quieter Starbucks with comfy seating and no lines. It’s the perfect place to rest up and get your caffeine jolt so you can get back to power shopping!  Florida Mall is a fun, energetic place to shop, and the stores there offer the best of everything. Just follow my tips, and you’ll have a great time while scoring some of the amazing bargains that Orlando is known for!



Vero Beach Outlets: A Surprising Shopportunity For South Florida Travelers!

Outlets In Vero Beach, FloridaDriving down I-95, you’ll see all kinds of signs for ‘outlet’ centers. Many of these are just little strip mall shops with some discounted junk, and are definitely not worth stopping for. But Vero Beach outlets are a different story… this pretty, open-air outlet mall has  gotten much better over time and is now worth a trip on its own.

Just about halfway between the shopping meccas of Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale, Vero Beach is the perfect place to get your discount designer shopping fix. It’s small, easy to get around, and just minutes from I-95, so it’s easy to check out all of the bargains.

Ladies clothing, handbags and accessories are your best bet at this center, with a lot of great stores packed in next to each other. I’ve found some great deals at the jumbo-sized Ralph Lauren outlet here, and the Tommy Hilfiger outlet is always worth a look. The BCBG Factory Store offers some major markdowns, just look for the fixed-price racks where you’ll find deals like cocktail dresses for $29.

The Dooney and Bourke outlet is a great source for well-made leather handbags. They run some really great sales throughout the year, sometimes around the holidays everything is an extra 50% off. When you’re in the store, sign up for their email newsletter, they send updates so you’ll always know what’s on sale.

The ever-popular Coach outlet store is a new addition to this center. They often hand out extra discount coupons when you come in the door, so make sure to get one! They offer Factory exclusive merchandise, which has an F before the numbers on the tags, and front-line store merchandise, which has no F on the tag. If you want the top quality items like you see in department stores, look for the tags without an F.

Chico’s is a great source for travel clothing, and they have some really cool jewelry too. Their sister store, SOMA, has amazingly comfortable and well-made lingerie and sleepwear. I always find great gifts on their $9.99 rack, and their silk nightgowns are especially nice.

Next time you’re headed down I-95 in Florida, make a pit-stop at Vero Beach Outlets, and let me know how you like it!

Sawgrass Mills Outlet: The Ultimate Florida Mall For Bargain-Hunters!


Oasis Sawgrass Mills OutletsWhen it’s time for some serious shopping in Florida, your best bet is to head down south to the biggest of all Florida outlets, Sawgrass Mills Outlet Mall. Even for expert power-shoppers, shopping this entire mall will probably take an entire day or two. This gigantic shopping center near Ft. Lauderdale is like 4 malls in one. In addition to the outlet mall staples like Coach, you’ll find designer stores you won’t see anywhere else. Plus there are more than 8 HUGE anchor stores with a wide variety of deals in every price range.

Plus, Sawgrass Mills offers a fun, pretty atmosphere, so it’s a great place to spend a day. You’ll want to check out the cool alligators near the Colonnade mall entry, all painted by artists in funky Florida themes. I couldn’t resist this Wonder Woman one, made me feel like the Superhero of Shopping!

Make sure you’re getting a real deal by checking the retail price on everything you buy. 50% off retail is not a great deal. 75% to 90% off is what you’re looking to pay. To do this, look for stacked discounts, such as an EXTRA 50% off the lowest marked price. If you see a sign that says “UP TO 20% OFF” or something like that, don’t waste your time. It’s also a great idea to check out flat-priced racks. Many stores have $9.99 racks, and they sometimes hold items with very high values, so you can easily score a 90% off deal there. Here’s a guide to my favorite stores at Sawgrass Mills for finding the best markdowns.


This is a new addition to Sawgrass Mills, and the deals are smokin’ hot! They keep all of the clearance items together, which makes it really easy to shop the best markdowns. When I visited, they had a number of clearance racks with 40% to 60% off the lowest prices. I found cashmere cardigans for under $20, and high-end men’s leather boots for under $60. This is a REAL outlet store, with true designer merchandise, and it’s definitely worth a visit.


There are many great deals to be had at this store, which is in the new Oasis section of the mall. The clearance racks are always worth a look, since they just keep marking things down until they sell. Nordstrom Rack is an especially good place to shop for shoes, because they carry extended sizes (up to men’s 20 and women’s 13!) and they mark them down to ridiculously low prices. I found a pair of men’s leather boots on my most recent visit for $25, and the dress rack never disappoints, with a good mix of cocktail and work-ready designs.


Just skip all of the displays in the front and head straight for the clearance racks, the best ones are straight back near the children’s section. There’s always a huge selection of women’s clothing, handbags, and shoes here, and all clearance is usually an extra 50% off. This is also one of the few stores where you can find plus size designer clothing on clearance, and the deals on swimwear are very good.


I love shopping at Marshalls all over Florida, and this is the best one of all. It’s the size of a Wal-Mart, about four times bigger than your usual Marshalls, so it has MORE of everything! The deals are great in every department, they have tons of shoes, handbags, menswear and ladies clothing. Look for the yellow clearance stickers for the best markdowns anywhere.


The sales here are hit-or-miss, but it can be a great bet for major designer pieces at decent discounts. Check out the racks with the dots on top, and look for stickered clearance items to find the best deals. Designer denim, evening gowns, and handbags are the departments where I’ve found the best markdowns at this location, so it’s always worth checking out to see what their current offers are.


There are some super-luxury stores at Sawgrass Mills in the new Colonnade section. This is where you’ll find the Prada outlet, Tory Burch, Giorgio Armani, Burberry, and the like. For designer jewelry, they have David Yurman, Damiani, Tag Heuer and Judith Ripka. The Judith Ripka store offers some stunning pieces at 75% off, and I’ve made some great buys there. This is a lovely open-air area to shop, but in my experience the markdowns are not all that great. If you’re a collector of one of these brands, you may find some pieces at about 50% off, but for regular bargain shoppers, it’s probably more of a window-shopping destination.


Sawgrass Mills Outlet is worth a visit just for the food. In addition to the usual food-court fare, they have some beautiful restaurants serving gourmet meals. It’s so nice to take a break from a full day of shopping in a lovely place like Grand Lux Cafe. This is my favorite Sawgrass restaurant, they have an expansive menu and everything is just delicious. Make sure to save room for their custardy, sugar-dusted beignets with three dipping sauces. I do think that was the best dessert experience I’ve ever had!


Tourists visiting from out of the country often shop Florida outlets to get the best bargains. If you only have time to shop one of Florida’s outlet centers, I recommend you choose this one. You’re guaranteed to find everything you’re looking for, and if you shop smart, you can load up your suitcases with designer bargains at a tiny fraction of retail prices.  Just follow my shopping tips to bring home the best designer deals!