Orlando Is For Shopping, Not Just Theme Parks

By: Mark Whichard

This title says it all, sort of. You can find just about anything you want in Orlando, and any time of year (unless you like snow and cold weather; sorry friend).

The superb shopping in Orlando can be just as much of a tourist attraction as the world famous theme parks and other regular tourist attractions.

Called by some writers 'the ultimate family holiday destination' this small but vibrant city is home to a large number of excellent shopping malls, and is known for its vibrant nightlife and renowned sports centers.

In sum, a visit to Orlando means a phenomenal number of outstanding shops and stores. You'll find a vast range of designer outlets, classy department stores, countless fashion boutiques and sprawling shopping malls.

Something for everyone, indeed. Let's check out a few of them now, so you can have an idea of what to expect in this tourist mecca.

Starting at the top end, there is the Florida Mall, Orlando's largest shopping center. With 245 stores, including eight department stores, well, you're more than likely to find what something you want here. The location, naturally, is convenient as it's near International Drive, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World.

Not so large, but hardly 'small' is Alamonte Mall, near the downtown area. More than 150 stores beckon you to a great shopping experience which is very much Florida, including indoor palm trees and native vegetation in the mall.

And if shopping is your thing, or even if you just need a couple of personal items or a gift or two, or three, don't miss The Mall at Millenia. Reputed as very big and very complete, it's centrally located and close to major theme parks. The mall offers such conveniences as valet parking, discounted hotel reservations, gift wrapping, and a U.S. post office; and that's just the beginning.

And with all that shopping, eating has to fit in there somewhere. There's quick and easy food for the family at the food court. There are also plenty of upscale restaurants and their famous cheesecake factory.

The variety of shopping in Orlando is not just in the number of malls. There are various styles also. For example, outlet malls are known for great deals. Orlando has several outlet centers. Two are located right on International Drive: Belz Designer Outlet Center and The Belz Factory Outlet are convenient to get to and the Belz Factory Outlet is the largest outlet center in the United States. The designer outlet includes brands such as Ralph Lauren, DKNY and many others.

Another outlet mall is The Orlando Premium Outlet, featuring discount merchandise. There are good deals at just about every store. And Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, located near Disney World, has a great variety of stores and products for everyone in your family, including a playground for the kids.

Completing the shopping cycle, International Drive has two large, open air markets.

The Mercado has several stores featuring a wide variety of designer clothes. There are also various places to buy the art work of local artists as well as other Floridian merchandise. The ambience of an open air market is emphasized by the cobblestone walk ways throughout.

The Pointe Orlando is a large open air market with sixty stores, but is not only for shopping. One can have a great time dining and enjoying their evening entertainment. Its seven restaurants and two night clubs assure you a fine time.

And to get more of a sense of locality, another open air market, The Farmer's Market, features fresh produce, locally made crafts and a variety of other merchandise.

So, yes, it's true, Orlando really does offer the visitor a full experience. After the theme parks, don't forget your shopping. You'll find it all here!

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