Shopping - Sarasota County Blog

Ready, Set, Shop! Sarasota shopping districts

There several ways to spend a day browsing and buying

Grab your credit cards and a pair of comfortable shoes: It’s time to go shopping. Whether you’re looking for stylish swimwear or hip home decor, you’ll find plenty of stores in Sarasota County with must-have merchandise. When you’ve had your fill of sun, sand, and surf, here are three ways to spend a day shopping.

University Town Center/Lakewood Ranch

If you can’t find something to tempt you at the Mall at University Town Center, maybe shopping’s not your thing. The two-year-old, 880,000-square-foot mall is home to more than 125 stores and restaurants. Check out their “Passport to Shopping” program, which is full of discounts and special offers from mall retailers.

For fashionistas, options range from high-end (Michael Kors, Kate Spade New York) to budget-friendly (H&M, Gap). Grab workout gear at the newly opened Fabletics location—featuring actress Kate Hudson’s line of leggings, tank tops, and other exercise apparel—or a new pair of pumps at Stuart Weitzman or Vince Camuto. The mall’s also home to the area’s first Apple and Crate & Barrel stores. You could spend hours under the site’s arched, glass ceilings, especially when you factor in all the dining choices for refueling over lunch or dinner.

Surrounding the mall, the entire University Town Center area in the northern part of the county is booming these days, helped by the growth of the world-class rowing facility at nearby Nathan Benderson Park. More national retailers of all kinds occupy space at strip centers around the mall, and a still-to-come “entertainment district” will provide even more shopping choices.

To the east of the mall is the planned community of Lakewood Ranch. Its walkable Main Street area is home to boutiques selling everything from pet toys to soothing soaps. Check out American Shore Trading Company for an array of flip-flops, colorful dresses, and swimwear and Wish, a great spot for baby gifts, coastal kitchenware, and jewelry.

Downtown Sarasota/St. Armands Circle

For even more retail therapy, take a stroll along Main Street in Downtown Sarasota. A few national chains (like Eileen Fisher and J. McLaughlin) have a presence here, but Main Street and nearby side streets are lined with mostly independent shops.

The Toy Lab is a happy, sunny spot for craft kits, Legos, stuffed animals, and baby dolls. Browse the funky glassware, hand-woven Turkish towels, linen dresses, and industrial home furnishings at Mercantile Home & Apparel or the on-trend women’s apparel at Lotus. Or check out the best sellers and staff picks at Bookstore1Sarasota.

Other shopping zones sit clustered near the Main Street area. Just to the south is Burns Court, a historic enclave filled with an eclectic array of stores embracing the “shop small” philosophy. Find jewelry, scarves, candles, and other goodies that could fit easily in your suitcase at Treat and Ally Cat or stylish shoes, women’s wear, and kids’ apparel at L. Boutique. From October through May, the neighborhood hosts a Sip, Shop, and Stroll event on the second Friday of the month from 5 to 8 p.m.

To the north of Main Street, the up-and-coming Rosemary District includes several retailers focused on the home. Browse the contemporary furnishings at Home Resource and the Sarasota Collection. Or stop by Sarasota Architectural Salvage, where you never know what kinds of treasures you’ll uncover.

On the edge of the Gillespie Park neighborhood, the Historic Downtown Village of Sarasota features a collection of colorful cottages turned shops and restaurants. Find paintings, pottery, jewelry, and other pieces by local artisans at the Artful Giraffe or eco-friendly soaps, baby items, and purses at Keffie’s.

The artists’ colony Towles Court makes for another fun shopping stop. Old Florida bungalows house an assortment of galleries, studios, and shops, and the neighborhood hosts third Friday art walks where visitors can meet the creative folks working there.

Head across the Ringling Causeway to reach St. Armands Circle. This tony sector—it hosts an annual exotic car show, among other ritzy events—features a ring of shops and restaurants. You’ll find some nationally known names (Tommy Bahama, Lilly Pulitzer) along with local boutiques stocking everything from elegant fashions and sparkly sandals to sports memorabilia and gourmet goodies. There’s also a Tervis shop selling the local manufacturer’s popular insulated drinkware.

Venice/Englewood/North Port

Exert your purchasing power in historic downtown Venice. The 1920s-era retail stretch includes all kinds of independent boutiques. Pop into Captain’s Landing for tropical men’s fashions, the Tabletop for modern glassware and kitchen gadgets, and Venice Stationers a longtime go-to for gifts and paper goods.

Don’t just stroll Venice Avenue; be sure to also head one street over to Miami Avenue, home to its own collection of shops and galleries like Tangi & Jess and the Venice Trading Company.

A lot of national retailers have opened locations in North Port in recent years, especially at the Cocoplum Village Shops on U.S. 41. It’s a great one-stop spot for necessities as well as fun finds.

Englewood’s historic Dearborn Street is an ideal locale for fans of vintage and antique goods. Several resale and antiques stores have set up shop here, including Ivy’s Attic and Rehab on Dearborn, a funky spot for metal signs and antique oddities. Interested in some local art? Head to the Arts Alliance of Lemon Bay or the Old Florida Gallery and Outdoor Center, which occupies the town’s former hardware store.

If you need an extra bag to carry all your buys home, head to Basix on Dearborn. It sells well-crafted canvas totes available in a variety of patterns and colors.