SHOP TILL YOU DROP

Where Tampa Bay - - Shopping - SUSAN B. BARNES

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.

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