As a repatriated foreign national, I am often lucky enough to have both the close and extended family come stay with me for their summer holidays, a season we are on the very brink of now. Aside from host, tour guide, butler, chef, chamber maid and offering free lodging, one of the main duties I fulfill is personal shopper. One of the main shopping outlets in Orlando is actually the fourth largest tourist attraction in the State of Florida. A little scary, but not as scary as your average door buster sale at your local Walmart. For those not familiar with where to shop in Orlando, or even that the city offered such a prominent non-theme park pastime, here are some of the basics.
No question, hands down the winner is the Premium Factory Outlets in Lake Buena Vista. Very prominently located next to Interstate 4 and just off of Highway 535, it’s easy to find and is well worth the visit. You’ll find here all of the main brands that you would like to see. From obvious brands like Timberland, Nike, Reebok, etc. to some not as obvious like Juicy Couture, Lacoste, Burberry and the like.
A couple of caveats:
- It is BUSY! You’ll need a little patience for parking, especially on the weekends.
- There’s a reason it’s cheap – most of the stores feature factory seconds, imperfect goods. Try on anything you’re interested in before you make our purchase because you are only entitled to return items with a receipt for up to 30 days.
- Not everything is cheaper. Yes, if you are from almost anywhere overseas, inevitably it will be cheaper than your home shopping venues due to the incredibly weak Dollar. However, just because it says “factory store” doesn’t mean it is cheaper than a regular store.
Next up, the massively re-vamped Prime 1 Outlets on International Drive. Formerly known as Belz Factory Outlet World, this mall is up and coming and worth a look. Make sure to check Neiman Marcus Last Call and Saks Off Fifth!
Still going strong:
Florida Mall is still a contender, as it is home to some strong anchors such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Macy’s, plus a good variation of high end to unusual to cheap and cheerful. If you’re travelling with young kids, then the Build-A-Bear Workshop is a sure hit for them to choose and build their own themed Teddy Bear! This mall is located on Sand Lake Road, but don’t worry about getting lost. Absolutely everyone knows where it is.
A little more up market:
Mall at Millennia. This Mall is a little nicer than many, with some excellent spots for a glass of your favorite refreshment or a spot of lunch (Cheesecake Factory is great).
While you’re there, don’t miss the periphery stores – there are a ton of great shops and eateries sprouting all around it.
Located on Conroy Road, easy to access via Interstate 4, and is just a couple of miles from the main entrance of Universal Studios.