Shopping in Orlando
Shopping in Orlando is truly world class, with every kind of retail outlet, from flea markets to tourist traps to designer-label malls. Be prepared to drive around if you’re looking to go on a shopping spree – a pedestrian-friendly shopping area doesn’t yet exist.
The malls in Orlando are spread out far and wide and there is no central shopping area as such, although the 19km (6-mile) length of International Drive comes closest to being a shopping area as it is home to numerous plazas, such as The Mercado and Pointe Orlando, which both offer some one-of-a-kind shops. Pointe Orlando, for example, has around 40 boutiques, and also offers some interesting dining options and even nightlife if you want to make a day of it. Festival Bay is a similar mall close to International Drive, with around 65 ‘speciality outlets’ and 15 or so restaurants.
There are some boutiques in Downtown Disney's West Side and in Winter Park, Park Avenue. Also worth checking out are Timothy's Gallery, 236 North Park Avenue, with ceramics, jewellery and home accessories and Golf Almighty, 501 South Park Avenue, for your golfing needs. One of the more esoteric places in Orlando is Celebration, a quaint artificial township that was built as an idyllic main street by Disney. It’s something of a throwback and offers a relaxed kind of shopping experience, with a sprinkling of art galleries and gift shops.
The main flea markets are a short drive away in Kissimmee, with Osceola Flea and Farmers Market and Visitors Flea Market being the most popular.
Discount outlet shopping plazas are particularly common in Orlando and boast some of the best value. The essential shopping venues are: the Orlando Premium Outlets, 8200 Vineland Avenue, just off International Drive, for a good range of big-name brands at discount prices; Prime Outlets Orlando, 5401 West Oak Ridge Road, for more of the same; Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, 15767 South Apopka-Vineland Road, for an equally tempting range price-wise; the huge Florida Mall, 8001 South Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando's largest mall; and Mall at Millenia, 4200 Conroy Road, just off motorway I-4.
Most malls and shopping centres are open seven days a week. Generally speaking, malls open at 1000 and many stay open until 2200.
It’s no surprise that most outlets in Orlando are theme-park based. If you want to buy anything related to Disney, from beach towels to life-size models of your favourite characters, then this is the place. The rest of goods on offer are typically Floridian – bright shirts and neon beachwear, sunglasses, golf accessories and the like. Then there’s the usual resort-friendly art made of seashells and coral and so on. The city is also home to branches of high-end department stores such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s.
A sales tax of 7% is applicable to most goods. Sales tax is not reclaimable by tourists on their departure from Orlando and Florida.