Shopping in Orlando
Shopping in Orlando is truly world-class, with every kind of retail outlet ranging from flea markets to tourist traps to designer-label malls. However, be prepared to drive around if you are looking to go on a shopping spree–a pedestrian-friendly shopping area does not yet exist.
The malls in Orlando are spread out far and wide, and there is no central shopping area as such, although the 18km (11-mile) length of International Drive comes closest to being a shopping area as it is home to numerous plazas. Pointe Orlando (tel: +1 407 248 2838; www.pointeorlando.com), for example, has around 35 boutiques and offers some interesting dining options and nightlife if you want to make a day of it. There are some boutiques in Disney Springs's (previously known as Downtown Disney) West Side and in Winter Park’s Park Avenue.
One of the more esoteric places in Orlando is Celebration, a quaint artificial township that was built as an idyllic main street by the Disney Development Company (DDC). It is 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 Visitors Flea Market (tel: +1 407 396 0114; www.visitorsfleamarket.com) being one of the most popular.
Discount outlet shopping plazas are particularly common in Orlando and boast some of the best value. The essential shopping venues are: Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets (tel: +1 407 238 7787; www.premiumoutlets.com), located at 8200 Vineland Avenue just off of International Drive, for a good range of big-name brands at discount prices; Orlando International Premium Outlets (tel: +1 407 252 9600; www.premiumoutlets.com), 4951 International Drive, for more of the same; Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores (tel: +1 407 238 9301; lbvfs.com), 15767 South Apopka Vineland Road, for an equally tempting range price-wise; the huge Florida Mall(tel: +1 407 352 9600; www.simon.com/mall/the-florida-mall), situated at 8001 South Orange Blossom Trail, is Orlando's largest mall; and Mall at Millenia (tel: +1 407 363 3555; www.mallatmillenia.com), 4200 Conroy Road, is located 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 is 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 the goods on offer are typically Floridian–bright shirts and neon beachwear, sunglasses, golf accessories and the like. Then there is 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 6.5% is applicable to most goods. Sales tax is not reclaimable by tourists on their departure from Orlando and the state of Florida in general.