If you’re looking for unique buys, there’s plenty of that in Southwest Florida.
In the Everglades territory, visit the Big Cypress Gallery in Ochopee, home to Clyde Butcher, whose large-format art photography captures the Everglades and other natural treasures. (He also has a gallery and studio in Venice.)
In Naples, art galleries fill the downtown Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South districts. At the latter, buy your designer labels at Marissa Collections. Other popular outdoor shopping venues include The Village Shops of Venetian Bay, Waterside Shops and Mercato. On a budget? Look for like-new castoffs in the area’s consignment shops.
To the north in Bonita Springs, The Promenade at Bonita Bay made a remarkable comeback recently with anchor foodie market DeRomo’s. Coconut Point lays out a huge spread of big box stores and fashion boutiques.
Sanibel Island is known for its shell shops, nature art galleries and resort wear boutiques. For something entirely different, hit the Shell Factory & Nature Park in North Fort Myers, where an animal feature and family amusements enhance shopping for shells, jewelry and other Florida trinkets. In the past few years, the complex debuted a new zip line, playground and climbing wall.
In Punta Gorda, downtown and Fishermen’s Village present small, intimate shopping experiences. Hit Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island for a charming historic twist to your shopping.
St. Armands Circle is Sarasota’s most well-known address for upscale shopping in a landscaped outdoor setting. The new Mall at University Town Center has shifted focus to Sarasota’s eastern extremities. Farther yet to the east, the community of Lakewood Ranch is known for its delightful shops and restaurants on and around Main Street.
For genuine local souvenirs, head to the region’s artist villages — Matlacha on Pine Island off of Fort Myers, Towles Court in Sarasota, and Village of the Arts in Bradenton. Watch for news of art walk events in downtown Fort Myers, Punta Gorda and Sarasota.
Bargain-seekers head to the factory outlet malls: Naples Outlet Center, Miromar Outlets in Estero, Sanibel Outlets in Fort Myers and Ellenton Premium Outlets near Bradenton. Or check out the flea markets: Flamingo Island Flea Market in Bonita Springs, Fleamasters Fleamarket in Fort Myers, Sun Flea Market (with its own mini-amusement park) in Port Charlotte, the Dome Flea & Farmers’ Market in Venice and Red Barn Flea Market in Bradenton.