Miami is anything but short on places for folks to shop at. There are outlet malls, shopping plazas, stand-alone stores, pop-up shops, farmer’s markets, and entire districts devoted to all things shopping. Hell, there are even people peddling their wares on the street on occasion (though this is mainly flowers, mangos, and churros). This is definitely the city for those who subscribe to the notion of retail therapy as necessary.
Tourists often find themselves window shopping and gourmet dining on Lincoln Road, but locals should know better than anyone that this open-air mall offers plenty of goodies for all wallet sizes. Sure, most of us will probably never shop at Alchemist, but the H&M just down the way is fashion forward and budget friendly.
And then there’s the epic outlet shopping experience known as Dolphin Mall. Out-of-towners come here in search of a bargain and they’ll find it, along with finding out that walking in flip-flops is only okay on South Beach. Dolphin requires serious, supportive foot wear. Locals know this and don’t go to Dolphin nearly as often, but when they do, they go prepared. It makes for a day-long excursion, with over 240 shops to drop your paycheck in.
But not all Miami shopping is this busy. For those who enjoy kitsch or off-the-beaten-path shops, there’s the Olfactory Company, the Rabbit Hole, and the Fair-Trade Market Place for starters.
SHOPS AT SUNSET PLACE
This popular shopping destination offers the convenience and variety of a mall, but with the outdoor ambience and lush landscaping you can’t get at most shopping centers. Top stores such as the Gap, Pottery Barn and Armani Exchange are complemented by a range of fun eateries like Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, Buffalo Wild Wings, Johnny Rockets, and the fast-casual Panera Bread. Entertainment options include Gameworks (a mega-arcade with games for all ages, a pool hall on the second floor, a restaurant and two bars), Splitsville (a fabulous bowling alley that’s adults only in the evenings, with gourmet cuisine and high-end cocktails), and a, AMC multi-screen cinema where you can catch the latest in film, in IMAX and 3D.
With plenty of stores inside (Disney Store, Gap, Z Gallerie, Aldo), plus many more boutiques in the surrounding area, it’s an excellent spot for shopping.
Convenient to both downtown and Miami International Airport, this mall is one of the area’s newest and most modern shopping centers. From Old Navy to Bath & Body Works, Dolphin offers a wide range of shops for all tastes and needs. Anchor stores include Marshall’s, Bass Pro Shops, and Saks Outlet. There are men’s and women’s fashion outlets like Forever 21, Banana Republic, Levi’s, Gap, Cotton On, Ross, Calvin Klein and Quicksilver; department stores like Sam Ash Music and Sports Authority; specialty shops like Motherhood Maternity; gift shops like Spencer’s; and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Among the mall’s many amenities are a Dave & Buster’s sports bar, a 19-screen megaplex with stadium seating, and live entertainment in the main courtyard on Fridays.
Dolphin Mall may be crowded, but there’s a reason. Hundreds of quality stores can be shopped at in the span of just one day.
In the Design District, new trends are being set every day. The neighborhood is a conglomeration of design outlets, art galleries, home decor stores, antique shops, restaurants and clubs. In recent years, the city’s creative contingent has migrated here, and it’s becoming a popular tourist destination. Stores devoted to design and architecture occupy warehouse-like fronts in an area between North Miami Avenue and North Second Avenue. Although the district covers just a few blocks, it offers a wealth of shopping and design opportunities. You’ll find well-known luxury brands like Bvlgari, Christian Louboutin, Prada, Hermes, Cartier, Burberry and Rolex alongside design shops like Threadcount, Moroso, Luminaire Lab, and Alessi.
Although a bit steep in price, the items you’ll purchase in the design district are sure to be worthwhile, not to mention great conversation pieces.
BIRD AND LUDLAM STRIP MALL
On the southeast corner of Bird Road and Ludlam, you’ll find a series of interesting and eclectic shops that are perfect for off-the-beaten-path shopping. The main attraction is Miami Twice, a large, vintage boutique. The shop began as a strictly vintage shop specializing in finds from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, but now offer “modern vintage” (80’s and 90’s) plus retro-styled clothing and a huge selection of Halloween costumes in October. A&M Comics is the other major tenant of the strip mall, boasting one of the largest and most interesting collections of comic books, graphic novels, used books, figurines and other collectibles, vinyl, vintage newspapers, and even a large selection of vintage Playboy magazines in the back. The strip mall also features a tattoo shop, several trendy women’s boutiques, a psychic, and most recently, a Vapor Shark e-cigarette store.
For a fun, off-the-beaten path shopping experience filled with vintage goods, comic books, and more, Bird and Ludlam Strip Mall delivers.
THE RABBIT HOLE
The Rabbit Hole is an online vintage clothing store with a small brick + mortar location in Miami. Founded in the Fall of 2009 as an after-hour creative sandbox: a happy place to photograph, display, and sell beautiful vintage clothes; the little vintage store was awarded Miami’s Best Secondhand Shop by Newtimes just after its first anniversary. The Rabbit Hole will always strive to offer great unique vintage clothing at the most lovable prices. Vintage clothing enthusiasts and savvy shoppers can find wares ranging from the 1950’s to 1990’s eras along with hand-picked new clothing and artist-crafted accessories to satisfy their craving for lovely things.
If you’re a vintage lover or just want to find unique gifts, Rabbit Hole is one of the best places in town for both.
Coral Gables is one of Miami’s most beautiful neighborhoods, and as such, their Downtown shopping district known as Miracle Mile is one of the most eye-pleasing, areas in town, featuring Mediterranean-style architecture housing more than 200 retailers. Miracle Mile is known for its’ high-end fashion shops like Isa Boutique and bridal stores like Alessa’s Bridal yet also offers more affordable shopping by way of stores like Ross Dress for Less. You’ll find books stores, art galleries, cafes, a theater, hotels, salons, florists, and even an art house cinema all within walking distance of one another. The pedestrian-friendly quarter has roughly 70 different restaurants to appeal to all palates, from Indian cuisine (Mint Leaf) to pizza parlors (California Pizza Kitchen) to steakhouses (Morton’s) and Sushi (Red Koi Lounge).
200+ shops, most of which are small businesses, make this a wonderful place to shop for unique items while supporting the community.
SHOPS BY THE FALLS
While the Falls Shopping Mall is just a few blocks away, this strip mall is a complete hidden gem filled with all kinds of wonderful, locally-owned shops. If you’re the type to want to shop away from the crowd, this is definitely the place for you. Some of the more popular tenants at this plaza include the new age shop Five Sisters, Elegant Stitches (a yarn and knitting shop), Sun and Ski Sports (for all your skiing and skate boarding needs), Little Green Moppet (children’s consignment boutique) and Upscale Furniture Consignment Gallery. Each of these stores offers something different from what you’ll find at your local Wal-Mart, with lots of personal attention from staff members that understand quality customer service. Plus, the deals found at many of these consignment stores can’t be beat.
For those who hate crowds, Shops by the Falls offers a great shopping alternative to the usually crowded Falls Shopping Mall just a couple blocks away.
BOOKS & BOOKS
As the name suggests, this is a wonderful place to find books, from instructional books on knitting and fishing to novels and poetry chapbooks to historical texts and science journals and even children’s bedtime books. Regional, national and international authors often show up here for readings, book signings, and other events. Recent visitors include Dave Barry, Hillary Clinton, Stephen King and Isabel Allende. While chain bookstores continue to expand, offering loads of popular books on all topics, independent bookstores like this one in Coral Gables’ Miracle Mile area stand out for friendliness, customer service and comfort. The selection of books on Florida and its unique history, architecture and culture is especially extensive.
If your preferred method of shopping has more to do with books, Books and Books is the place to go.
MIAMI FAIR TRADE MARKETPLACE
Located inside of the Coral Gables Congregational UCC Church, the Miami Fair Trade Global MarketPlace is the brain child of senior pastor, Rev. Laurie Hafner, who wanted an alternative in Miami to all the shops that use child labor, sweat shops, and generally inhumane practices. The gifts found at the marketplace come from over 35 countries around the world, from Kenya to Mozambique, and include everything from Peruvian cotton shirts to Indian embroidered shawls and Egyptian trinket boxes, all made by artisans (mainly women) who are given living wages and safe working conditions. With friendly service, fair prices, and beautiful products, the Miami Fair Trade MarketPlace provides a wonderful alternative to the usual hustle and bustle of mall shopping.
You’ll get to shop for new and unique items while knowing you’re supporting the fair-trade industry. Giving back makes shopping so much better.
Lincoln Road is where the trendy and fashionable shop. At this upscale, open-air mall off Collins Avenue at 17th Street, you’ll find some of the most exclusive shops of South Beach, such as French Connection, Superdry, Alchemist, and Anthropologie. You’ll also find fun and eclectic shops like TASCHEN Books and Lush. Many top art galleries and specialty stores are located here, but most browsers are here to see and be seen. There is a mixed and diverse crowd; it’s not unusual to find people dressed “to the nines” being passed by inline skaters. You’ll also find some of the most outstanding dining choices in the area, along with plenty of thriving nightlife options.
Lincoln Road Mall has one of the widest varieties of shops in Miami, including high-end boutiques and affordable styles like H&M.