If you thought Orlando was all about the mighty theme parks, eating delicious food, and 90-degree temperatures, you’re missing out on a big feature in the world’s number one vacation destination: shopping! Whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s designer clothes, sportswear, electronics, beauty products, or another suitcase to fit all that stuff in, Orlando has you covered.
Better yet, there really are some bargains to be had – and, as a bonus, the exchange rate for us Brits means that even the upscale stores can yield some good savings (remember, sales tax in Florida is just 6% compared to 20% in the UK).
So where are the best places to spend all your holiday cash? That’s what this installment of the BIG 5 is here to answer. Get ready as we count down the best shopping centers in Orlando!
#5 – Mall at Millenia
Number five on the list is at the top of the upmarket and luxury scale: Mall at Millenia. While it’s not necessarily the premier spot to find a tight-budget bargain, it definitely is the best spot in Orlando for window shopping, and that’s the best bargain of all.
Mall at Millenia is home to brands such as Tiffany & Co. (guys, trust me, do not let your significant other stay in here too long), Prada, Gucci, Lacoste, Rolex… well, you get the idea. Luckily for most of us, mixed into the top-end designer stores are more sensibly priced shops, such as H&M, Macy’s, and Urban Outfitters, so it’s still possible to find a good deal – they’re just harder to come by than at other malls in the area.
If the shopping isn’t taking your fancy, then head up to the food court and check out Johnny Rockets, an old-school diner with burgers to die for. If you don’t leave the mall with bags, then I urge you to leave with a burger!
#4 – Florida Mall
The biggest and the best.
The Florida Mall is Central Florida’s largest mall, and with over 250 stores, there really is something for everyone. The sheer scale of the mall is impressive enough, but the variety of stores here is unrivaled: Macy’s, Apple, Abercrombie, Disney, Gap, and one of only four M&M stores worldwide. This variety, along with the fact that it’s indoors and climate-controlled, makes the Florida Mall the best all-around shopping destination in town.
In other countdowns, the Florida Mall would be number one, but as this is more of a bargain hunters’ countdown, it has to settle for number four. It’s not quite the place to find a bargain (unless you take the favorable exchange rate into account); instead, it’s the place to shop all the latest seasonal fashions, electronics, gifts, and churros(!).
Just a five-minute drive from Orlando International Airport, the Florida Mall is a personal favorite of mine for spending that last little bit of holiday money as I head home.
<script async src=”//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js”></script>
#3 – Altamonte Mall
Somewhat controversially, next up on the countdown is the excellent Altamonte Mall. Located north of downtown Orlando, it’s perfect as a lazy afternoon complement to a morning in Winter Park (as I explained in this post). While it doesn’t offer the largest selection in Orlando, and it’s a bit far from the theme parks, Altamonte Mall makes this up by offering the quietest shopping center in the city.
Home to 160 stores and sharing many with the Florida Mall – such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, and Macy’s – the beauty of this mall lies in its phenomenal deals. Many of the prices in stores here work out to be much less expensive than the Florida Mall, and some stores are more like clearance outlets featuring huge discounts – the Abercrombie store, for example, has the same stock as the Florida Mall store, but always seems to offer their stuff at 40% off. And it’s not just the Abercrombie store, either. Most shops here have really good discounts available.
When you combine those discounts with the mall’s laid-back atmosphere and lack of crowds, I say the 25-minute trip is most certainly worth it.
Tied for #1 – Orlando Premium Outlets Vineland & International Drive
Tied for first on the shopping center countdown are the two best places in Orlando for a good ol’ bargain hunt: the ever-expanding Orlando Premium Outlets.
Now comprised of two locations on either end of International Drive, the Premium Outlets are a vast shopping paradise of designer factory stores, selling goods at up to 50% off. Major brands such as Nike, Adidas, Levi’s, DKNY, and Character Warehouse (cut-price official Disney merchandise!) are present at both.
But don’t assume that the same item will have the same price at both locations – that’s not the bargain hunters’ way! If at all possible, go to both and compare prices, as they can fluctuate wildly. I can attest to this fact: during my visits, the Vineland location has tended to have the better prices, but in June this year, the I-Drive outlet was considerably cheaper (Nike trainers, for example, were about $20.00 less at the latter).
There’s something for everyone at the Premium outlets, and I challenge you to leave without multiple bags full of bargains! In other good news, even if you haven’t hired a car, the Premium outlets are accessible via the I-Ride trolley.
The I-Drive location, which has been formally known as Belz Outlets and Prime1 Outlets, is on the doorstep of Universal Orlando. The Vineland location is very close to SeaWorld and Walt Disney World. This makes both spots ideal to tag onto the end of a theme park day.
My personal preference is the Vineland location for its layout and the vast array of restaurants just down the road at the Crossroads pavilion (like Fuddruckers), but make sure you try them both – super savings await!
Honorable mention – Lake Buena Vista Factory Outlets
A small and sometimes forgotten outlet, the Lake Buena Vista Factory Outlets can sometimes yield an unexpected bargain. With a few big names such as Nike and Gap in the mix, if you’re based in Kissimmee, these are worth a trip if you’re driving past.
Planning a vacation to Orlando?
Want to skip all the work and just price out a vacation to Universal Orlando? We’ll find the best deals for you – for free (seriously.) Learn more, or check out some of the current deals:
- – Halloween Horror Nights 25 Hotel & Ticket Vacation Packages
– Wizarding World of Harry Potter Vacation Packages
– 2-Park Getaway at Universal OrlandoI hope you’ve enjoyed this BIG 5 list as much as your closet will.Share your own favorite bargain locations in the comments below.