AOL PICK from our Editors
Orlando has few of the thriving retail corridors that grace cities like Chicago and New York; instead, Orlando shopping is spread out, with much of it concentrated in indoor (and nicely air conditioned) malls. Souvenirs are the province of the theme parks: Downtown Disney in Lake Buena Vista is headquarters for anything Mickey, and the other theme parks have their own gift emporiums. International Drive has the corner on T-shirt shops and the like, though there’s a large collection of name-brand outlet stores as well. To get to the “indigenous” Orlando shopping, you’ll need a car and a little persistence. For local artisans’ goods, try Artistree
Tea in College Park. For local art, try City Arts Factory
and Gallery On First
Neighborhood: International Drive
The sprawling indoor Mall at Millenia is studded with luxury retailers: Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Tiffany & Co., Cartier, David Yurman, Gucci, Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Ferragamo, Luis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Coach. The marble floors, polished wood and burnished metal accents complement the high-end brands, and there’s a choice of restaurants including Brio, PF Chang’s and The Blue Martini lounge, which has live music weekends and some weekday nights making this Orlando shopping spot the place to be. There are less lofty stores as well, a Macy’s, PacSun, Abercrombie & Fitch, Tommy Bahama and a few local retailers. The Mall attracts visitors from all over, so it’s common to hear snatches of conversation in French, German, Portugese and Italian floating about. The Mall is just north of the International Drive corridor a few blocks east of Interstate 4.
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Neighborhood: Winter Park
This original upscale Orlando shopping district is on the main street of Winter Park. Buildings lining Park Avenue date back to the early decades of the 20th century and there’s an unhurried vibe. The restaurants open onto the street, umbrella-topped tables spilling out onto the sidewalk. The retailers along Park Avenue have struggled in the past few years due to competition from a nearby mall, creating turnover in what was the city’s prime retail corridor. The clothing stores sell fashions for an older, upscale crowd and there’s a Williams-Sonoma, estate jewelry and some home accessories stores along with national retailers Orvis, Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware.
Neighborhood: Mount Dora
Although it’s a bit of a drive from the attractions, about 45 minutes, Renningers is real destination shopping in Orlando if you’re in the market for antiques. There are more than 200 individual antiques dealers located inside one large building and the adjacent individual cottage-style shops. This is the same group that operates antiques malls in Southeastern Pennsylvania. On the third weekend of each month, an additional 200 dealers set up in the outdoor pavilion and the third weekend of January, February and November each bring an additional 1,000 dealers to the market. The markets are open Saturday and Sunday from 9am-5pm. As a bonus, you can drive from Reninger’s into downtown Mount Dora, one of the most charming of the historic town centers in Central Florida. If you do, have lunch or dinner at the Goblin Market, an intimate, chef-run restaurant that serves fresh American classics, steaks and seafood.
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Neighborhood: International Drive
The place for good buys on name brands is Prime Outlets—a strip-style center at the north end of International Drive. There’s a Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth, Neiman Marcus Last Call and factory stores for Nike, Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Polo Ralph Lauren, Liz Claiborne, Betsey Johnson, St. John and Ed Hardy among the many. There is even a Victoria’s Secret and an Orlando Harley-Davidson shop to fuel your bad girl/bad boy cravings. The walking is outdoors, so wear something cool if you’re planning to be there May-October. There’s ample parking and the I-Ride Trolley can bring you here and back if you’re staying on I-Drive, but planning to go shopping in Orlando's Prime Outlets.
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