In the land of endless summers, shopping might as well be an Olympic sport. Miami folks — whether natives, transplants, or winter residents — are shopping connoisseurs gifted with a discerning eye to tell if anyone’s Patek Phillippe is the real deal. These skills may be partially attributed to constant exposure to the trappings of the well-heeled through the many shops that are as much part of Miami’s sun, sand and surf features. Miami is a shopping mecca that sees tons of visitors hopping flights to Miami just for the high-end goods on offer. Although I was aware of the city’s rep as a playground for the trust fund crowd, the presence of ultra-luxe shopping centers within a few miles of each other still surprises me.
Bal Harbour Shops
There is a zen-like vibe to this luxury mall. Fully stocked koi ponds amid lush landscaping evoke a tropical resort atmosphere, but this breezy, open-air center also incorporates public art displays for a touch of whimsy. Completed in 1965, Bal Harbour Shops’ high-end cred is boosted by the fact that Europe’s luxury brands open their second boutiques here after launching in New York.
Bal Harbour is synonymous with luxury shopping, and it is still considered one of the top luxury shopping centers in the U.S. Anchor stores include Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, but it is the luxury names such as Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and many of the world’s top fashion brands that generate a lot of excitement among fashionistas and aspirational shoppers. Bal Harbour is a friendly place, and the mall is never overly crowded. Its location on a barrier island north of posh Miami Beach tends to filter the crowd, so you can lose yourself in the elegant displays at Audemars Piguet, Harry Winston, Oscar de la Renta and brands of similar caliber.
Miami Design District
Closer to Miami’s downtown area, the Miami Design District has evolved from a historic neighborhood struggling with blight to a shopping district of the world’s most exclusive names housed in rehabbed historic structures or ultramodern buildings. Brands such as Hermes, Martin Margiela and Louis Vuitton have carved out their presence here along with a number of similarly exclusive names. Many more will open as the Design District grows. This shopping district is designed to be pedestrian friendly with native Florida landscaping and public art displays to enhance its luxury cachet –a very good reason why you should start searching for flights to Mami ASAP!
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Not quite as exclusive as Bal Harbour Shops, Aventura is a well-designed traditional mall with a mix of classic and high-end brands such as Cartier, Valentino and Emilio Pucci with Nordstrom, Macy’s and Bloomingdale as anchors. It is considered Florida’s largest mall in terms of square footage and possibly the second most visited mall in the nation. It is set to add more stores and dining options soon. This is where you can go for your Tiffany & Co. fix if you also want to rub elbows with the J.C. Penney set, even for those who care more about glitter than grand logos.
Miami is an international shopping destination because there is a mall for every demographic. What makes it truly special is that anyone can find brands that are exclusive even by Milan and Paris standards. Think of the savings on travel expenses if you could avoid Paris altogether to shop in balmy Miami.
This is a short list considering the density of shopping options in Miami. If you’re all about luxury shopping, then don’t hesitate — start looking for some cheap flights to Miami and get there NOW!