By Doreen Christensen
The holidays are not just a time or a season. They’re also a state of mind.
Why shut yourself up inside a cavernous mall or parked behind a computer making online purchases at home when you could be
outdoors shopping in one of our sunny, open-air shopping districts?
Your holidays will be a lot brighter, shopping al fresco.
Round up your bargain-hunting posse and explore the recently revitalized Royal Poinciana Plaza in Palm Beach. Take a stroll along charming Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, and marvel at its secret breezeways and twinkling lights. Join the hipsters in the Wynwood Arts District in Miami and see some of the largest street-art installations in the world, set amid some of the most fashion-forward stores in South Florida.
If you’re looking for luxury retailers, eclectic boutiques, cool libations and delicious indulgences, here’s my gift to you, wrapped up with a bow.
These shopping destinations, from Palm Beach to Broward to Miami-Dade, will enhance your state of mind – and your shopping experience – this season of giving.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Downtown Delray Beach
On East Atlantic Avenue, between Swinton Avenue and A-1-A, Delray Beach, DowntownDelrayBeach.com
Step onto East Atlantic Avenue these days and you feel the energy. It’s hard to believe this diverse, historic hotspot was once nicknamed “Downtown Dull-Ray.” No more. This happening ’hood was selected in May as one of the top 10 great American shopping streets by noted urban planner and Harvard professor Robert Gibbs. The district features an array of eclectic shops, galleries and eateries.
There’s ample parking, then hop on the free trolley and marvel at the many exquisite examples of art deco architecture, including the landmark Colony Hotel & Cabana Club, built in 1926; or the lovingly restored Crest Theatre at Old School Square. Dine at the equally historic Sundy House, just south of Atlantic Avenue, and explore its interesting gardens. Another option: Hang out until the light dims and watch the avenue transform into a hipster haunt.
Oh, yes, the shopping. My personal standouts include the jeans and high-end leathers – with a side of champagne – at Bolufe; and the fall-forward fashions at Periwinkle. Clean up on handmade, bubblicious goods at Naked Mermaid Soapery. And don’t forget to stop in at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore. A good book is always a perfect gift.
The Royal Poinciana Plaza
340 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach, theroyalpoincianaplaza.com
This 180,000-square-foot shopping center, long a treasured architectural and cultural gem, has been made new and shiny again.
The Regency-style Royal, renovated to the standard set by renowned architect John Volk in the 1950s, has attracted nearly 30 shops and restaurants worthy of its prominent place on the island.
Sip an espresso while nestled in a comfy chair and enjoy a trickling fountain in the idyllic courtyards and gardens. You’ll need the rest after spending the day at luxury retailers Saint Laurent, Assouline, Valentina Kova, Cremieux, Magasin and Serenella. Even Hermès defected here from nearby Worth Avenue. What woman wouldn’t love a silk scarf from this house of high fashion? Pop in at The Honor Bar, one of four in the country and the first in Florida, for some nibbles and cocktails.
Palm Beach Outlets
1751 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., West Palm Beach, 561-515-4400, PalmBeachOutlets.com
A trek to the far-reaches of northern Palm Beach will be rewarded with bargains galore at this family-friendly, outdoorsy collection of nearly 150 retailers and restaurants built on the former site of the Palm Beach Mall. Bargainistas will find priced-to-move goods from Brooks Brothers, Vera Bradley, Talbots, Sperry, O’Neill, Le Creuset and newcomer children’s clothier Janie and Jack. Hunt for deals at Nordstrom Rack followed by a pastrami on rye at TooJay’s Deli or a beer at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. Then, get right back in the ring and hit Bed, Bath & Beyond, DSW Shoe Warehouse and Ulta Beauty at the adjacent Marketplace at the Outlets.
Promenade at Coconut Creek
4443 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek, 954-376-6976, PromenadeatCoconutCreek.com
Home to over 45 retailers, specialty stores and 14 restaurants, this kid-friendly destination offers a departure from the usual mall suspects. From fun accessories and jewelry at Charming Charlie, Francesca’s and Pizazz or fine kitchenware and specialty foods at Sur la Table, you’ll find something for everyone, naughty or nice. Of the many dining options, close your eyes and pretend you’re in Napa at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant or sip a sangria at Ethos Greek Bistro. Enjoy date night with dinner and a movie at the 11-screen luxury Silverspot Cinema. The tree’s already been lighted; the giant menorah is scheduled to be lighted at 5:30 p.m. on the first day of Hanukkah, Dec. 12.
Las Olas Boulevard
Between Andrews Avenue and the Intracoastal Waterway,
Fort Lauderdale, LasOlasBoulevard.com
Stroll along Broward County’s most historic street, with more than 120 unique boutiques and retail shops, art galleries, jewelers and restaurants. Discover the secret breezeways and hidden treasures that make this tree-lined boulevard a retail adventure. Hop on and off the Sun Trolley to visit well-known shops that include Carroll’s Jewelers, Florida-friendly fashions Fresh Produce, gown goddess Zola Keller and progressive Elektrik Boutique, and Hoffman’s Chocolates. There are plenty of dining options among the three dozen restaurants, bistros and sidewalk cafes here, including La Bonne Crêpe, Noodles Panini and Caffé Europa.
The 55th Annual Christmas on Las Olas will be 5 to 10 p.m. on Nov. 28. The holiday extravaganza, between Southeast Sixth and 11th Avenues, features food and beverage booths, local choirs, stage performances and Snow Mountain, a super-cool (and cold), two-story ice-covered slope for sledding. Word on the street is Santa Claus will visit, too.
The Colonnade Outlets at Sawgrass Mills
1800 Sawgrass Mills Circle, Sunrise, 954-846-2350, Sawgrassmills.com
Wear your sensible shoes and bring a rolling suitcase here because you’ll need it to get your designer duds to the car. There is a valet, of course, but parking’s a breeze in the new 1,700-space garage (it wasn’t always this easy). The open-air promenade is internationally famous for its collection of discounted luxury retailers, including Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Prada, Kate Spade New York, Coach, Michael Kors, anchor Neiman Marcus Last Call and others.
Sit down, relax and rest those tired dogs with a cool cucumber gin and tonic and a giant meatball at Matchbox American Kitchen + Spirits, or blow your daily calorie budget at Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar. Be sure to drop in at the new H&M, scheduled to open Nov. 16. You’ll be shopping la dolce vita.
The Village at Gulfstream Park
601 Silks Run, Hallandale Beach, 954-454-9950, GulfstreamPark.com
The village is centered around the iconic race track and casino, with a fine collection of shops to help deck the halls, including Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, West Elm, The Container Store and Z Gallerie. Get a fresh holiday look at Lilly McKay, Blu Ice and Back2Back fashions. Hit the casino, make a bet on the ponies and grab a bite and a beer at Yard House, Brio Tuscan Grille or cut into a prime steak at III Forks. Stroll the plaza nibbling French treats from Le Macaron while enjoying fun holiday events and music.
The Symphony of Lights, a synchronized light show, will run 6-10 p.m. Nov. 24-Dec. 31 in Champions Plaza; ride the Express Train in December and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus at 6 p.m. Nov. 25-26 and on weekends through Christmas Eve.
Bal Harbour Shops
9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour, 305-866-0311, BalHarbourShops.com
Lose yourself in luxury at Florida’s very first open-air shopping destination, nestled in this exclusive seaside village. Bal Harbour’s meandering, half-million-square-foot promenade is refreshingly intimate, where Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and other swanky retailers are anchored by Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Give the wallet a rest while rejuvenating from your retail romp at Stephen Starr’s sleek and elegant Japanese restaurant Makoto or brasserie Le Zoo, a Parisian-style sidewalk cafe.
Exciting plans are in the works to bring Barneys New York to Bal Harbour as part of a $400 million, 340,000-square-foot upgrade kicking off at year’s end. Settle in for a wait, though. The project is expected to take years to complete.
Miami Design and Wynwood Arts District
3841 NE Second Ave., Miami, 305-722-7100, MiamiDesignDistrict.net
If you haven’t been to the Miami Design District, a 50-block artsy mashup of fashion, architecture, design and dining, you simply must. Don’t be intimidated by high-end purveyors Cartier, Bulgari, Fendi, Versace, YSL and, for the shoe obsessed, Christian Louboutin. You’ll also find affordable, cool Turkish delights at The Bazaar Project, or venture over to Wynwood Block (2621 NW Second Ave.), or the Arcade (50 NW 24 St.) for even more surprises.
Gawk at the edgy street art on a free public tour, scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 3; and enjoy a free concert by the Miami Symphony Orchestra at 6 p.m. on Dec. 5. The performance is produced by Maestro Eduardo Marturet and Emilio Estefan. Speaking of Cuban specialties, stop in for happy hour at Estefan Kitchen (140 NE 39th St. #133) and sip a mojito or cafe Cubano to refuel for your second spree. ¡Feliz Navidad!
Doreen Christensen writes the Sun Sentinel’s award-winning Shop-O-Matic savings blog and produces Doreen’s Deals, a Sun Sentinel Originals video series. E-mail her at email@example.com.