Suncoast Beaches, FL - Anna Maria Island, Bradenton, Longboat Key, Sarasota, Lido Key, Siesta Key & Venice - Vacation Travel Guide

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Suncoast Beaches Area Features

The Shopping Scene Around Sarasota

When traveling, most of us like to purchase gifts for our loved ones or souvenirs of a fantastic vacation. Every destination has its own distinctive merchandise that is desired by shoppers from all over the world. Sarasota and the nearby islands are no exception. In fact, many residents are inspired by the local landscape and even use materials such as shells and white sand from the keys to create and sell unique items in nearby shops.

Pop inside a cute little boutique store (Anna Maria Island, for example, has several) when that typical afternoon rain shower begins. Pick from shops specializing in everything from handmade treasures to beach-themed décor for the home. You’re sure to find a unique memento of your vacation at any one of these stores. For extended shopping, head to St. Armands Circle, an open-air shopping and dining complex arranged in four quadrants surrounding a beautiful circular park area. Here you can browse through merchandise from higher-end brands including Tommy Bahama. Lilly Pulitzer, and Everything But Water. Be sure to also visit the recently built Mall at University Town Center, where you’ll find over 100 stores including Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Dillard’s. The businesses at both St. Armands and the Mall at University Town Center can assist you in finding a bathing suit that fits perfectly, casual resort wear, or a dressy ensemble for a date night with your sweetheart.

Those in search of a great deal should visit the Premium Outlets in Ellenton. Perhaps you’re in need of some new sunglasses to protect your eyes from the Florida sun or maybe your suitcase came out of baggage claim at the airport missing a wheel. A visit to retailers such as Sunglass Hut and Travelpro can help you replenish these necessities at a reasonable price. While you’re there, stop in other stores including Movado, Kenneth Cole, Carter’s or Under Armour for whatever else catches your eye. As they say, retail therapy is always good for the soul!

While visiting the area, you’re likely going to explore art galleries in local museums. In addition to simply browsing these magnificent art pieces, you may want to bring a local creation home with you. Visit independent shops or museum stores to find a print, painting, vase or even a piece of jewelry to add to your collection. Don’t have a collection? This is a great opportunity to start one! There are also boutiques such as Nontando, which doubles as a gallery of unique African-inspired artworks, and The Artful Giraffe Art & Gift Gallery, which retails pieces predominately from local artists. Bridge Street Jewelers features one-of-a-kind jewelry that will happily remind you of your fabulous vacation—some of the pieces are specific to Sarasota!

Regional food offers a great insight into an area and also makes for great edible mementos and gifts. Sample foods from around Sarasota and discover what makes the city and the surrounding keys special. Everyone can try a taste of Florida at Mixon Fruit Farms, where fresh citrus comes straight from the trees and is easy to bring home with you. Many orchards will ship citrus for you! Bottles of rum or microbrews can not only be purchased where they are made, but also in local grocery or liquor stores. The Amish restaurant Der Dutchman serves delicious home-cooked food, but don’t forget to go upstairs to browse fashionable clothing, decorations for the home and many other items at their store, Carlisle Gifts. To bring the flavors of the region straight to your dinner table, try picking up a Sarasota cookbook filled with regional recipes such as Simply Sarasota: From Fresh to Fabulous compiled by the Junior League of Sarasota, or Norman Van Aken's Florida Kitchen.

However, since you’re in the tropics, all you may really want to shop for is beach attire! In that case, head to Swim City and Swim Mart for a large assortment of bathing suit sizes and styles to choose from for men, women and children. CB’s Saltwater Outfitters retails clothing from some of the top surfing brands and offers sportswear from major outdoor suppliers. Finally, don’t forget necessities for the beach! Fin Island Company sells snorkeling equipment, boogie boards, and popular flip-flops and sandals made for sandy beach strolls… or to continue window shopping in comfort!

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