SHOP TILL YOU DROP
When it comes to shopping in the Tampa Bay area, there’s little shortage of places to put your credit cards through a good workout. Here’s a look at some of the shopping destinations in the area to tempt your wallet, from malls to boutiques and outdoor markets too.—BY
Visitors to the Tampa area have a new addition to ease their holiday shopping—the Tampa Premium Outlets. Opened in late October, about 25 minutes north of downtown Tampa in the Lutz/Wesley Chapel area, this property features a friendly, relaxed attitude to go along with the Key West-style motif, palm trees and more than 80 retailers. It is dog-friendly and offers shoppers amenities such as a lounge with TVs, kids playground, phone-charging stations and WIFI.
For a more luxurious fashion outing, head to one of the several shopping centers filled with popular anchor stores and boutiques including the WestShore Plaza, International Plaza and Tyrone Square Mall. At these locations you’ll find well-established retailers like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Dillard’s as well as specialty shops from all over the world including Max and Cotton, all the way from Australia. If all of that shopping makes you hungry, there are plenty of dining options including three new restaurants at International Plaza: YO! Sushi, TAPS, Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen and Besito Mexican in WestShore Plaza. Whichever mall you choose, these are Tampa’s top shopping destinations.
If you want to explore a different
slice of Tampa Bay then venture into one of the most sought-after neighborhoods, Hyde Park, with its treelined streets, bungalow homes, and sense of quiet and community. At its center is Hyde Park Village, a popular outdoor European village-inspired shopping destination in downtown Tampa off Bayshore Boulevard. Since its redevelopment started in 2013, Hyde Park has been attracting new retailers and restaurants. It’s easy to spend the day—shop for a bit in the morning at stores such as Tommy Bahama, Brooks Brothers and Anthropologie and afterward, grab a bite to eat or a glass of wine at any of the village’s myriad dining spots—choose from bartaco, Irish 31 Pub or Piquant Epicure and Cuisine.
If crafts and handmade items are more your cup of tea, spend the day at one of Tampa Bay’s best outdoor markets. The Saturday Morning Market at the Al Lang Field parking lot in downtown St. Petersburg is a terrific way to get a taste of Pinellas County—literally.
Fresh fruits and veggies, artisanal cheese and meats, freshly prepared foods and refreshing drinks are available in a fun, communitydriven setting, oftentimes with live music. You can visit every Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm through late May. About 200 vendors fill more than 130 spaces and nearly 10,000 visitors attend the market. Another market to check out is Ybor City’s Saturday Market. This venue showcases local artists and produce including gourmet foods, cigars, woodworking and jewelry. Other top outdoor markets are the Dunedin Downtown Market on Main Street, the Tampa Downtown Market near the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and the Gulfport Tuesday Morning Fresh Market.
In addition to the harbors and estuaries, Tampa Bay is filled with shopping districts off-the-beaten path. Take inventory of what you’re looking for and spend an afternoon in the charming Grand Central District located just west of downtown St. Petersburg. Antique shops line the streets, and finds include furniture, art, glassworks and china, as well as mid-century modern goods. Wander a bit farther and find Haslam’s Book Store with shelves lined with new and used titles—it was also a favorite of writer and Beat Generation poet Jack Kerouac.
If an outing after a day at the beach is better suited, stop in at one of the most unique places in Tampa Bay—John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk. Located between Madeira Beach and Treasure Island, John’s Pass features more than 100 merchants, restaurants and attractions. This is not your run-of-the-mill mall. It mixes shopping with recreational sports, dining and sight-seeing. Stop in to shop for Florida souvenirs, dine on fresh seafood and soak up the view from the boardwalk.