No matter what your shopping preference, the Fort Myers area has the perfect spot; from one-of-a-kind artwork and novelty gifts to iconic and world-renowned luxury brands at retail and outlet prices. Pretty much anything and everything is up for grabs.
Wandering the streets of the River District in downtown Fort Myers, you'll find numerous spots like the Arts for ACT Gallery, where your purchases also benefit the families and survivors of domestic abuse.
On Sanibel Island, life – and shopping – move at a different pace. Visitors will be delighted by the service and the selection of stores located along the wooden boardwalks of Periwinkle Place with local shops like Island Style, Wilford & Lee, Congress Jewelers and more.
Of course, those looking to really shop 'til they drop won't be disappointed by the varied options of the mega shopping centers around the area. Sniff out unbeatable bargains on your favorite high-end designer brands at the sprawling Miromar Outlets; then head over to Coconut Point for a sublimely picturesque and atmospheric luxury shopping experience that also includes lots of delectable dining choices.
Photo courtesy of Bailey's General Store
Family-run Bailey's General Store is a Sanibel Island institution. The homey, friendly atmosphere makes it a memorable part of any trip to the island. Part grocery store, part hardware store, Bailey's is the place to "stock up" for your vacation, with everything you could possibly need for your stay. And if you are too relaxed to leave your beachfront condo, Baileys will deliver to your doorstep. The store offers everything from clothing, housewares and beach gear, to gluten-free groceries and organic produce. Of course, you'll also find a wide selection of beer and wine too. The store has even has a coffee bar and delicious homemade bakery items.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Bailey's General Store has food, clothing, hardware and more; they even deliver. It's the best all-around shopping stop on Sanibel.
Gina's expert tip: Try the mermaid cakes, Bailey's to-die-for line of homemade cakes, whole or by the slice.
One of Fort Myers best-known consignment shops for high end gently used clothing and accessories, Once Again has been in business for 30 years. Bought by two former customers (and best friends) in 2013, the new owners have put a fresh coat of paint and a fresh face on the busy business. Hundreds of new items come in every day so you never know what treasures you'll find in the nooks and crannies here; everything from Jimmy Choo shoes to Chanel bags and the largest selection in the area of second hand Lilly Pulitzer clothing. The drawers and racks of accessories are fun and fabulous. This is not your grandma's consignment store.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: You can get lost in this well established, high-end consignment store featuring women's clothing, accessories and a smattering of home goods.
Gina's expert tip: Tricky to find; look for the giant statue of Buddha at a neighboring bar.
With a reputation for producing some of the highest quality citrus juice in the region, Sun Harvest is full of Florida sunshine. Buy freshly squeezed juice and freshly picked fruit, or at least sample it. It's particularly fun to visit when the processing and packing plant is in operation. Giant glass windows offer a first-hand look at the high tech system and the smell is heavenly. Sun Harvest sells much more than citrus and citrus inspired foods. You'll find quite an array of food, seasonings and sauces produced in Florida, along with unique gifts. Shop for Christmas ornaments, stuffed alligators, mermaid sculptures, dolphin photos and all things tropical.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: The best place to buy fresh Florida citrus to consume or ship. Shopping for unique Florida inspired food and trinkets is primo here.
Gina's expert tip: Try the juice bar in the back of the store, including the seasonal blends
Located in North Fort Myers, this iconic shopping center and local attraction features well over 65,000 feet of retail space full of merchandise. You'll find a section dedicated to Christmas, regardless of the time of year. Sectioned off, the store has jewelry, clothing, kids gear, shells, shells and more shells. The main showroom boasts a selection of more than five million shells collected from beaches worldwide. There are even mini museum displays amount the racks and rows of mostly tropical items. The Shell Factory is more than a shopping destination, it's a family entertainment destination as well with a Fun Park boasting bumper boats and a zip line across the lake, and a Nature Park with both exotic and native animals, including alligators.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: If you didn't find the shells you were looking for on the beach, you'll find them here, along with a plethora of unique gifts.
Gina's expert tip: Need to refuel after shopping? Have lunch or cocktails at Captain Fishbones.
Boasting more than 35 retail shops, Periwinkle Place looks as much like a well-manicured public space as it does a shopping center. Situated along and named after Sanibel's main road, it's the largest shopping plaza on the island. This is the place to go if you are looking for upscale men's and women's fashions, as its covered boardwalks lead past boutique after boutique, many of them locally-owned. The very first Chico's clothing store is located here. Pick up some bling at Congress Jewelers, or unique art at Island Style. After shopping, treat yourself to a meal at the Blue Giraffe or enjoy some professional pampering at the Sanibel Day Spa.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: A great way to spend an entire afternoon with shaded benches, restaurants, a spa and a fantastic collection of shops and boutiques.
Gina's expert tip: Watch out for the bicyclist coming and going along the densely covered paths.
This open-air, Main Street-style mall just south of Fort Myers in Estero, is the center of a 500-acre master-planned community, giving it a uniquely relaxed atmosphere. Surrounded by glistening lakes and fountains, shoppers stroll the lovely boardwalk, collecting goodies from 113 stores along the way. One side is lined with so-called box stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, World Market and Ulta. The other side is full of more high end boutique places such as Chanel, Pandora, Lucky Brand, West Elm and Apple. After browsing your favorites unwind with a movie and dinner at one of 25 restaurants. The options are endless at this pet friendly shopping and dining destination.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: This street-style mall is home to more than 113 high-end shops, unique restaurants and a movie theater.
Gina's expert tip: Keep your eyes peeled for the free golf cart shuttle, it will take you wherever you want to go in the shopping center.
Wilford & Lee is nestled in the corner of a strip mall off of the well-traveled US-41 in Fort Myers and is the company's flagship store; there are a total of four in Southwest Florida including Sanibel Island and Bonita Springs. Enjoy more than 16-thousand square feet of shopping with home decor and sparkling treasures from floor to ceiling. The variety is impressive; everything from metal wall hangings to SwitchFlops shoes, candles and jewelry. Christmas kitsch is available year-round with lots of flamingo ornaments and Santa's on surf boards. Wilford & Lee has been a favorite stop for locals for more than twenty-five years for its huge variety.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: A popular place for home decor, gifts and jewels, Wilford & Lee has expanded to four locations over the past twenty-five years.
Gina's expert tip: Check the clearance corner for big bargains.
Arts for ACT is not your typical art establishment. The non-profit gallery is owned and operated by Abuse Counseling and Treatment Center, an organization that provides shelter and support for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. The front of this downtown Fort Myers gallery showcases a new artist every 2-4 weeks. The rest of the brick wall, wood floor rooms feature work from a diverse array of artists, ranging from funky jewelry and abstract pieces to mixed media and traditional Florida-style art. You'll even find vintage and gently loved accessories, clothing and shoes in the back rooms. Take your time here as there are treasures to discover in every corner.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Find unique work by local artists, as well as vintage items, with proceeds supporting a shelter for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Gina's expert tip: Meet a featured artist and enjoy food and wine during the monthly Art Walk event.
Photo courtesy of The Franklin Shops
The Franklin Shops is a two-story building in the heart of the River District in downtown Fort Myers, that resembles a mini indoor mall or market. The many shops inside include boutiques, art exhibitions and ever-changing pop-up retailers. In this one-stop-shop, you can pick up clothing, jewelry, home decor, fine art, pet items, various novelty items and so much more. You'll find treasures in every corner and the occasional artist on site, painting or crafting their wares. All shops are locally owned, and much of the merchandise is also locally made. If you're looking for a unique gift or memento from your trip to Fort Myers, you are sure to find something special here.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Find a wide variety of one of a kind designs in this artists co-op, from jewelry to clothing to pottery and gadgets.
Gina's expert tip: The shops are open late during special events downtown, such as ArtWalk, MusicWalk and Bike Nights.
Only 18 miles south of Fort Myers proper, this open-air Mediterranean-style outlet mall's bright covered sidewalks are lined with more than 140 designer and brand-name stores. Bargain hunters will delight at the prices, up to 70% off regular retail numbers. Amidst picturesque fountains, koi ponds and vibrant murals, shoppers discover spectacular sales at such well-known and beloved outlets as Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Neiman Marcus, Michael Kors, Bloomingdales, Swarovski, Vera Bradley, Polo Ralph Lauren and Le Creuset to name a few. The expansive lakefront dining piazza and fantastic free events including live concerts and fireworks, complete this poll-topping retail paradise.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Miromar Outlet is massive, housing almost every kind of designer, specialty store you can imagine; all selling items at deep discounts.
Gina's expert tip: There is a kid's play area if the young ones start to get restless.