South Florida Shopping Destinations

Some notable shopping malls can be found in South Florida’s Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, and they’re highlighted by the surrounding scenery and the different kinds of shops they have which are usually upscale or trendy. These include famous chains like Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Abercrombie & Fitch, Banana Republic, Kenneth Cole and so on. Another memorable aspect of the malls is just the overall design.

A good example of design is the Dolphin Mall in the western part of Miami. Just off the 836 highway, this mall emulates a tropical bazaar with outdoor kiosks and blasting Latin music. Basically it reflects Miami’s multicultural scene with splashes of Latin and Caribbean ambiance. But the kinds of stores and eateries found in this mall are quite varied. One of the other highlights of this mall is its location. For travelers wanting to do some last minute shopping, the mall is only five miles west of the Miami International Airport and minutes away from Florida’s Turnpike which connects this region with the central part of the state (305-DOLPHIN).

Now if a traveling shopper wants a waterside shopping experience oddly enough there is only one such mall. The Bayside Marketplace (305-577-3344) in Downtown Miami is not very large but does have great waterfront views and access to the city’s famed waters via tour boats. Many operators compete with each other to offer the best price for their short water tours. The kiosks are quite attractive and are probably the best ones shoppers will find in the region due to their one-of-a-kind nature. While its location is great, getting there can be a real nightmare when considering the city’s infamous traffic. Plus parking in the Marketplace is quite expensive. The best bet is to park somewhere along Miami’s metro rail system, which charges a small fee, take the train to the Government Center stop then hop on the free Metro Movers that leaves one a short walking distance from the Marketplace.

Sawgrass Mills (954-846-2300) is Florida’s largest outlet mall and one of the top draws in the entire region. But more importantly it is arguably the best place to go shopping based on the mall’s large variety of stores. Located in Sunrise, the mall is fairly easy to reach from Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Boca Raton (eleven miles from Fort Lauderdale and about thirty minutes from Miami and Boca Raton). One good thing about the mall is that it’s fairly easy to find parking, something that cannot be said for other rival malls like Aventura Mall or the Shops at Sunset Place. Although it can be quite a trek to the actual shops if parking is found in the outer parts of the lots. It’s good to know that many area hotels provide shuttle services to the mall and public buses go there as well.

The mall is supposed to have a vague shape of an alligator but that has gotten harder to discern with new additions like the outdoor Oasis and the Colonnade Outlets. The Oasis is a good place to just have a great time if one is out on a date or want a memorable dining experience. The outdoor region features a GameWorks where kids young and old can indulge themselves with video games and food, a movie theatre, restaurants like Cheesecake Factory and more.

Other noteworthy malls that should be tried are the Falls in Miami, (it’s similar to the Bayside Marketplace with its large open-air shopping that surrounds lagoons and waterfalls. 305-255-4570), Aventura Mall (one of the larger malls in South Florida with several upscale stores and an annual farmer’s market. Located in the northern Miami-Dade city of Aventura, just north of ultra-chic Bal Harbour and Miami Beach, 305-935-1110) and the Broward Mall in Plantation (an elegantly designed, sprawling center with lots of national chain stores, 954-473-8100).

Aside from the parking situation with some of these shopping destinations the only other real caveat are the central kiosks. These are small stands strategically placed in the center halls of the malls and are run by overly aggressive salespeople who pester shoppers to sample their products. It is very annoying and makes shoppers feel as if they have to go through an obstacle course just to avoid them. Some may enjoy the bazaar like feel but others may not. But that shouldn’t stop anyone who has time while in South Florida to try the shopping experience, it’s quite memorable. – – J. L. Soto

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