Friday, 16 January 2015

My Orlando, Florida Travel Tips: Malls

Orlando Florida Travel Tips Malls

Now this is a blog series that I have been planning for quite some time now and I hope it's one that will appeal to many and in particular, those of you jetting off to Florida at some point in the future.

Over the past fourteen years I have been to Florida ten times and every time that I've been I've discovered even more interesting and unique places to explore, so I'm hoping that I will be able to provide you with a couple of suggestions above and beyond the obvious places that you will be sure to find in some of the more traditional travel guides. Saying that, I am planning twelve individual blog posts (making this a monthly blog series for 2015) dedicated to the best that Florida has to offer in terms of theme parks, food, shopping, activities and much, much more.

I was last there in September and October of last year so hopefully my tips will be as up to date as possible but if you've been to Orlando then you'll know just how much can change in even a couple of months as there is always something new and exciting being built. I'd love to hear your travel tips, if you've been to Florida jn the past or what you'd like to hear more about if you are planning a trip there, especially if it will be your first time.

And I thought that it was only right that the first of my Orlando, Florida Travel Tips was dedicated to one of my favourite places to visit whilst I'm in the Sunshine State; the malls!

The Florida Mall

The Florida Mall Michael Kors

For me, The Florida Mall offers the perfect mix when it comes to shopping. You've got your slightly more luxury stores like Coach, Guess, Lucky Brand Jeans and my personal favourite; Michael Kors. But then you've got the stores that I get the most excited to visit. I'm talking Victoria's Secret, Sephora and Forever 21.

Sephora in JC Penney

And if you are a fan of Forever 21 then this is the mall for you. With two sprawling floors, XXI Forever is the largest Forever 21 store in Orlando.
Looking to discover Victoria’s Secret? (Oooh. Hehe). The Florida Mall boasts three, yes three, Victoria’s Secret stores. One dedicated solely to beauty, a PINK store and a large Victoria’s Secret store which contains everything you would expect to find in the store, as well as even more beauty.
The main department stores to anchor the Florida Mall are JC Penney (complete with it's own Sephora inside it - as you can see above), Macy’s, Sears and Dillard’s. 

MAC The Florida Mall

Florida Mall also features a large stand alone Sephora store, a huge MAC (just look at all of those lipsticks!), M&M World, The Disney Store and a hotel and conference center. Imagine a shopping centre here in the UK with it's own hotel and conference centre. I know that we certainly don't have anything like that here in Glasgow.

Charley's Steakhouse The Florida Mall

The food court at the Florida Mall is also rather impressive, especially if you've wanted to try out some of the American fast food that eludes us here in the UK. There's A&W which is amazing for all things fried, Five Guys (no explanation needed), Sbarro which is the place to go for pizzas and calzones and Charley's Grilled Subs (this is like Subway on another level with cups of fries for sides). Just look at how yummy it looks.

(Full list of stores at The Florida Mall - click here)

Mall at Millenia

Mall at Millenia Orlando Florida Travel Tips

The Mall at Millenia is a far cry from the outlets that Orlando is famous for (as I will be describing below) and it is where you will find some of the biggest and most exclusive brands available to you in the US. Think Cartier and Tiffany & Co. in the same vicinity as Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo. It's also the mall where I picked up my Michael Kors Mini Selmas (link here). And if you don’t have the cash to splash at stores like these then The Mall at Millenia also has stores such as Vans, Gap, J.Crew and the only Urban Outfitters that I came across in the Orlando area.

Chanel The Florida Mall

Oh and this is also where you'll find Pottery Barn and Anthropologie, so if you've been lusting after some of the products available in these stores, especially on Pinterest I imagine, then this is the mall to head to.

Johnny Rockets Mall at Millenia Orlando Florida

Whilst I normally tend to gravitate towards fast food joints when grabbing a quite bite to eat at a mall, the Mall at Millenia’s food court is on a whole other level compared to the other mall food courts. There's California Pizza Kitchen, Blue Martini, Panera Bread, The Cheesescake Factory (I'm drooling just writing these) and of course, my favourite; Johnny Rockets! If you've ever wanted to witness the American diner experience then be sure to head to Johnny Rockets at least once during your stay.

(Full list of stores at Mall at Millenia - click here) 

Orlando International Premium Outlets

Orlando International Premium Outlets Travel Tips Florida

Some of the designer outlet stores that you can expect to find at this particular outlet mall are Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Banana Republic's Factory Store, BCBG Max Azria, Juicy Couture and Michael Kors. These are the outlet stores so don't expect to find current season stock in these stores but that's exactly why you're getting such great deals. There's also an amazing Victoria's Secret Outlet store and my favourite of the lot (even if I was just browsing), a Kate Spade New York Outlet store.

Orlando Outlets Kate Spade New York

This mall is also the only one where I found an American Apparel store in Orlando. It may not be the same crazy savings that you would expect to find at the outlet malls but it is still much cheaper than buying the same AA products in the UK.

Five Guys Orlando International Premium Outlets

This mall houses another typical American mall food court. You'll find a lot of the same options as you will in many of the malls; Subway, Sbarro, Five Guys (which is always well worth a visit) and Auntie Anne's Soft Pretzels but there's also Japanese food, Chinese food, Brazilian food, Italian food, the list really does go on and this is all quick, convenient and tasty. And if you are looking for other fast food and restaurant options then you'll find every fast food joint and restaurant speciality that you could ever think of just outside the mall complex as this particular mall is located right on International Drive. 
Would you maybe like to see a post dedicated to the best places to visit and see on International Drive at some point in my Orlando, Florida Travel Tips series? Please let me know below if you would like me to.

Cinemark Festival Bay Mall Orlando Florida

As I mentioned, as this outlet mall is situated on International Drive, if you even just cross the road then you'll find another mall, the Festival Bay Mall, which has a huge Cinemark movie theater. This takes going to the movies to a whole different level and it's a bit of a tradition of ours to go and see a movie whilst we're on holiday (normally on a day/afternoon when it's raining) as that movie then holds so many special memories as you've seen it on your holiday.

Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets 

Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets Travel Tips Florida

Whilst there is definitely a lot of crossover between the two Orlando Premium Outlets since they share many of the same stores, both are definitely still worth a visit. Stock varies by store, especially when it comes to the outlet stores, so if you are searching for some great bargains and big savings then be sure to check out as many of the outlet stores as you can. 
Stand-out stores at the Vineland Premium Outlets are The Cosmetics Company Store, Diane Von Furstenburg, Disney's Character Warehouse, Samsonite, the Toys R' Us Outlet and Levi's Outlet Store.

Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets Florida Travel Tips

And much like the Premium Outlets located on International Drive, this mall really is just such a beautiful place to spend time. We tend to head to this particular mall during the evening as it's still warm but definitely a lot cooler than it would be during the day. It's also significantly less busy which is always a benefit when it comes to shopping at the outlet malls.

They've also just built an extension to the mall which is just across the car park (even I couldn't miss it and I do find it pretty easy to lose my bearings at these huge outdoor malls). The new stores include a Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, North Face, Under Armour, Kate Spade New York, UGG Australia and another multi-story Forever 21.

Apologies that there aren't more photographs of this particular mall. When we visited in September/October of last year both times that we went there was torrential rain. It was hard enough getting from store to store without getting completely soaked nonetheless attempting to take photographs.

(Full list of stores at Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets - click here)

So what do you think of my first Orlando, Florida Travel Tips post? Is it a series that you will be reading every month? 
Have you been to Florida before? If so, what was your favourite mall to visit?

And as I mentioned above, this series is all about giving you the best travel tips possible as well as sharing some of my favourite places to visit, shop, eat and explore whilst I'm in Orlando, so please get in touch either in the comments below or via email or on Twitter with any topics that you would like me to cover or questions that you have. I'd love for this to be a really interactive series that will hopefully provide a lot of ideas to those of you planning a trip to Orlando, Florida at some point in the future. What Orlando, Florida Travel Tips would you like me to share next?


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