From the extravagance of the glitzy malls to the bargain prices of the outlet warehouses, shopping in Orlando is big business, with more variety than you can imagine. If you’re looking for a unique shopping experience then head to the independent boutiques, jewellers and galleries in Downtown Orlando, or if its big brand shopping that takes your fancy, head to Orlando Premium Outlets on International Drive, where you’ll find over 180 designer shops.
If you’re looking for something a bit unusual then don’t overlook Orlando’s string of museums – they’re packed with weird and wonderful gift ideas.
But for some serious shopping, head to one of Orlando’s fantastic malls:
The Mall at Millenia
Filled to the brim with expensive stores, you can search the rails in more than 150 shops including Burberry, Gucci, Chanel and Cartier; help yourself to beauty products at L'Occitane and Sisley skincare; or try some chocolate treats at Lindt Chocolate. Alongside this you’ll also find major US favourites, Macy's and Bloomingdales, and if all the shopping helps to work up an appetite, there’s a food court filled with an extensive culinary offering.
Orlando Fashion Square Mall
This is a shopping destination that caters for everyone. It features designer stores such as Victoria’s Secret, as well as department stores like Macys, and American favourites including Hot Topic. With an extensive food court and even a cinema inside, this is more like a day out than just a shopping experience.
Orlando Premium Outlets
The superstar superstore to end them all; this is a shopping experience like no other. Featuring more than 150 stores including Banana Republic, Burberry, Coach, Cole Haan, DKNY, Kenneth Cole, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Versace and many more, you’ll be able to snap yourself a bargain with discounts on many big brands.
As shopping malls in Orlando go, this is much more; it’s also a fun-filled entertainment centre. Alongside a plethora of designer outlets including Tommy Hilfiger, Armani, and Hollister, you’ll also find an abundance of restaurants serving delicious cuisine, a 21-screen cinema, and the WonderWorks, a fun filled amusement park for the mind.
Lifestyle and culture in Orlando
Although best known for being a bustling tourist destination, Orlando has another side just waiting to be discovered. Beyond the frenzy of International Drive you’ll discover a laid-back side to Orlando, filled with a comprehensive range of arts, culture and leisure facilities; make the most of the great museums in Orlando.
Orlando Museum of Art
Founded in 1924, this beautiful and educational museum supports and reflects the growth of Florida’s art scene. An excellent place to visit for art lovers or those that enjoy experiencing something new, the museum has become a cultural institution over the decades. The museum is home to a fantastic collection of sculptures, art and photography dating back to the 19th century, sitting alongside the work of local artists and internationally significant creations.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
At the heart of the Morse Museum you’ll find the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. This collection of Tiffany works includes exceptional examples of his delicate designs in glass and ceramics. Sitting alongside this prized exhibition you’ll also find a variety of other artworks including a major collection of American Art Pottery, and collections of late 19th and early 20th century American paintings, graphics and decorative art.
Orange County Regional History Center
For a glimpse into the history of Orlando and central Florida, this museum should be on your ‘to see’ list. Opening in the 1940s, this ever popular exhibit has become part of the furniture in Orlando’s landscape. The museum displays an array of historical objects, some dating all the way to the British Victorian era.
Places to eat in Orlando
If there’s one thing Orlando isn’t short of, it’s great places to eat. There’s always a good value, family-friendly buffet, or an all-you-can-eat diner just a stroll away from whichever Orlando attraction you’re headed to.
From the family-friendly restaurants that can be found on every corner, to the city’s finer hotels serving up thrills on the plate big enough to rival the theme parks, the food scene in Orlando has it all - look out for big-name chefs making their mark on Lake Buena Vista, Kissimmee and I-Drive.
The Disney restaurants are a step above what you’d expect from theme park eateries - kids will love the colourful menus (and you’ll love the healthy options) at the Rainforest Cafe and the Crystal Palace Buffet.
Malls are also a good place to eat as they’re home to some seriously good Italian restaurants and seafood diners, while along I-Drive you’ll find an excellent array of Tex-Mex, tapas, steak houses and wonderfully inventive themed restaurants; with everything from 50s American diners and futuristic space-shuttle joints to Titanic-era fine dining.
Universal’s Citywalk is a huge 30 acres of dining and entertainment venues, with the popular Hard Rock Café taking centre stage. From fine Creole cuisine straight from the Louisiana bayous, to "Cheeseburgers in Paradise", salsa, and steaks, this is the place to head for delicious and diverse dining for all the family.
For an amazing night out in Orlando look no further than Disney Springs’ entertainment, shopping and eating complex, formerly known as Downtown Disney - this place truly has something for everyone. Take the time to experience the absolutely jaw dropping Cirque du Soleil’s modern day circus tricks. Then, head over to DisneyQuest which feature five floors of fun and games with rides, gizmos and arcade machines. If you want to party then The Landing is the place to be, filled with a range of bars and nightclubs featuring everything from an upscale waterfront dining experience at The Boathouse, to comedy shows, 80s discos and rock ‘n’ roll; this is a truly magnificent place to have a night on the town.
Nightlife along I-Drive is definitely for the young and energetic, or those who like a touch of glitter and a dash of drama. Here you’ll find medieval banquets, ghostly castles, murder mysteries and middle-eastern Bedouin tents, alongside a variety of themed bars.
Pirate’s Dinner Adventure
Be shocked and amazed as you live the pirate’s life at the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure, often talked about as the "World’s Most Unique Interactive Dinner Show." This swashbuckling, action packed, multi-million dollar Broadway styled musical comedy adventure is fun for all. You can tuck into Caribbean delicacies served on board an authentic replica of an 18th century Spanish Galleon.
Wall Street Plaza
If the thought of a leisurely stroll from bar to bar is more appealing head to the Wall Street Plaza. Here you’ll find a number of friendly bars and restaurants lining the busy street; for an historic downtown adventure, this is a great place to begin.
Church Street Station
For something a little out of the ordinary, try the Victorian themed Church Street Station. This unique station is spread out across several blocks, tying together a whole range of entertainment spots between the station and Orange Avenue, via the disused railway. Whether you want a disco, a themed restaurant or a rock bar, you’ll be sure to find it here.
Improv Comedy Club and Restaurant
For those in search of a good laugh, check out the amazing Improv Comedy Club and Restaurant. Situated on Church Street, you can guarantee yourself a series of side-splitting laughs as big name headliners take to the stage alongside new up and coming talent.