Like big city shopping meccas, Sarasota's options stretch far beyond the realm of just shopping malls. This small town has big city style with a multitude of venues, varying from strolls down quaint downtown streets to outlets where shoppers can save a ton! This small town most certainly has big city style.
Start in downtown Sarasota and work your way down to South County. From quaint, little boutiques to big departments stores, SRQ has something to satisfy every shopper.
One of the best known and most original shopping areas in Sarasota is St. Armands Circle. Elegant statues, coconut palms, exclusive shops and fine restaurants line its boulevards. This world-renowned, European-flavored area is situated at the entrance to Lido Key across Sarasota Bay. Whether you're in the market for a Lilly Pulitzer sundress to wear to Lido Beach, which is just steps away, an elegant piece from White House/Black Market, or a fun Hawaiian shirt from Tommy Bahama, you'll find what you're looking for in one of the hundreds of upscale shops and boutiques. It's also a great place to buy art. There are numerous galleries you'll find along the way.
Local shops dot the circle, with catchy names like Oh My Gauze! and Dream Weaver. Unwind after a day of shopping with a fresh, delicious meal from one of the many gourmet restaurants in St. Armands. Columbia has an outdoor patio and a Spanish flair; Crab and Fin has fresh seafood accompanied by live piano music. Nearly all of the eateries provide excellent opportunities for people-watching.
Downtown Sarasota is one of the most picture-perfect downtowns you could imagine: bustling yet peaceful, filled with boutiques, galleries, restaurants, movie theaters, performing arts venues and even a Whole Foods, great sidewalk seating, a sprawling bayfront, lots of parking and it's very pedestrian-friendly. Main Street is, of course, the main drag. As you make your way down Main, you'll pass a huge variety of stores, from a skate shop to boutiques like Lotus, where you'll find beautiful clothing, gifts, bath goods and furniture. On the opposite end of Main, you'll find plenty of restaurants all in a row and, at the intersection of Main and Palm, the ivy-covered Media on Main, a phenomenal little store selling Apple computers and other products, books and magazines, greeting cards and more. Cafe Palm is in the back, serving up crepes, coffee and other treats. The doors are usually wide open and there's both indoor and outdoor seating. Around the corner, you'll find the galleries dotting Palm Avenue. Straight ahead is the beautiful marina and bayfront. Backtrack around the other corner of Main and you'll pass Five Points, the library and the opera house all on your way to check out the boutiques on First Street. They sell stationery, jewelry, clothing and more. Pop into Whole Foods for some goodies and, when you get out, grab some fashionable kitchenware from Sur La Table.
Imagine Fifth Avenue lined with restored Mediterranean homes and palm trees and you've got downtown's historic Herald Square. This shopping, dining and strolling district is bordered by Pineapple Avenue, Orange Avenue and State Street. Pick up anything from retro fashions and '60s furniture to haute couture and fine art along your way.
Old-fashioned lampposts line Hillview Street and Osprey Avenue, draped with banners that read "Southside Village." With moms pushing strollers, friends sitting at outdoor cafés, couples walking hand in hand, and even well-coifed pooches strutting alongside look-alike owners, there's no mistaking this neighborhood. It's a jumble of quaint cafés, specialty boutiques and upscale salons. At Morton's Market, the butchers, the bakers and the hot meals-to-go makers never cease to please the palate. Take a break at Village Bikes, a gourmet coffee shop, full-service bike shop, and social gathering spot for the athletically inclined.
Sarasota Pavilion is the place to go when you need a lot of random essentials. There's a Publix for food, Bed Bath & Beyond for, well, you guessed it, Ross and Marshalls for bargain shopping, Ulta for make-up, Books-A-Million for books, magazines and coffee and there's still more, including Lanebryant and several other stores to help you check things off your shopping and to-do lists. There are casual restaurants for a quick meal, as well--Hooters and Panera are both at the Pavilion.
For the more conventional shopper, Sarasota boasts two malls. There's the more upscale Westfield Southgate, generally known to locals as Southgate Mall. It is located at South Tamiami Trail and Bee Ridge Road and is home to high-end stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's and Dillard's, along with many specialty shops including Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, The Gap, Victoria's Secret, MAC, Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma. Southgate is surprisingly relaxing for a mall. There's plenty of seating and classical music often fills the air. Starbucks, Cosimo's Pizza and a deli are all food options to help you recharge during your shopping trip.
Westfield Sarasota Square, also known as Sarasota Square mall, located at Tamiami Trail and Beneva Road. It's your traditional American shopping mall in many ways. There are department stores, as well as popular stores like Forever 21, Hollister, Buckle and American Eagle Outfitters. Victoria's Secret, The Gap. Bath & Body Works and The Body Shop are also in this mall, as well as an extensive food court, a new movie theater and some well-known youthful shops like Spencer Gifts, Delia's and Express. Yoder's Amish Marketplace, just outside JCPenney, sells all sorts of goodies.
Farther down the Trail, you can take in the elegant 1920s Mediterranean Revival loggias and stroll down lush boulevards in the quaint city of Venice. Shopping on the island of Venice, primarily on Venice Main Street, offers everything from tropical fashions to home décor in its boutiques and gift shops. Check out some suggestions in Venice here: http://www.sarasotafl.org/article/venice-florida-an-american-dream.
Historic Dearborn Street is in the heart of Olde Englewood Village, on the shores of Lemon Bay in South Sarasota County. Find gifts and fine art, hand-painted furniture and antiques, casual clothing, vintage furnishings and great food. For more details and specific suggestions, visit http://www.sarasotafl.org/article/a-trip-down-dearborn-street.
Whatever you fancy and whatever you find, you'll discover that when it comes to shopping, Sarasota really does have it all.