Miami shopping can be a strange experience. Whereas like-minded stores in other cities tend to cluster—one neighborhood might be great for buying jewelry and accessories, while another is lined with designer storefronts—in Miami it's not unusual to see a shop that sells $5 YOLO T-shirts wedged between two high-end couture boutiques. And the streets of South Beach's most touristy areas offer a seemingly never-ending supply of smoke shops, vintage clothing and thrift stores, sex shops and more smoke shops. It’s not so much disorganized; just a tad schizophrenic at times.
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Miami’s best all-rounder, Aventura Mall boasts all the biggies: Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Nordstrom. It also has boutique locations for 7 For All Mankind, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Pucci and Ted Baker. In addition, there’s a 24-screen cineplex and popular restaurants such as the Cheesecake Factory and Johnny Rockets. It’s easy to get to from South Beach, as several buses terminate here—it’s just a hell of a long ride. And as a taxi can cost as much as $50 each way, it’s worth the price of a one-day car rental to stock up.
In addition to fancy, monochromatic threads, BASE is also known for its funky soundtrack (its CD collection is for sale, of course), coffee table books, candles and even Japanese anime. Just how cool is the stuff? Consider this: the store has a small location at the Delano hotel plus a 24/7 vending machine of goodies at the Mondrian South Beach.
Heaven for book-lovers, Books & Books is a superb independent, well-stocked with bestsellers but also lots of small publishers. Its wooden-floored rooms include one devoted to antiquarian rarities and another to kids’ books. There’s a café, as well as regular discussion groups and author readings.
Do you need a drop-waist dress from the 1920s? Can’t manage without a Pucci print skirt from the ’70s? You’ll find both here, along with high-necked linen and lace dresses, funky neckties, costume jewels, shoes, furs and postcards. Brands include Gucci, Balenciaga, Chanel, Vuitton and even hard-to-find Zandra Rhodes.
Fashion legend Ralph Lauren’s daughter Dylan is like a modern-day Willy Wonka, offering more than 5,000 kinds of candy from around the world—not to mention ice-cream, macaroons and a sidewalk café serving up candy-inspired cocktails such as the Pop Rock Explosion—at this fun-for-all-ages emporium.
A South Beach unisex shopping hotspot, Atrium is also a great place to stalk celebrities if you don’t feel like breaking the bank on a $2,300 Alexander McQueen clutch. With designer brands at designer prices, don’t be surprised if you see the same $200 white T-shirt on a Kardashian in the latest issue of your favorite tabloid.
Where the ladies who lunch go with their lap dogs, and where the PYTs go with their GWMs (guys with money), the oh-so-exclusive Bal Harbour Shops has long been pinned as Miami’s Rodeo Drive. In this two-story, modernist Bali Hai, you’ll find big-bucks labels, including Prada, Gucci, Tiffany & Co, Chanel, Versace, Bulgari, Oscar de la Renta and Chloé, rubbing padded shoulders with upscale department stores Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Residents of this one-time boho ghetto howled at the arrival of corporate America in the form of this multi-story, semi-outdoor mall. It’s everything you’d expect from a block whose residents include Gap, Victoria’s Secret and Starbucks. There’s also a 13-screen Paragon movie theater.
Cashing in on the outdoor mall trend, the Falls aims to calm with lush foliage, wooden plank walkways, waterfalls and reflecting ponds. Anchors include a United Artists megaplex, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, though you’ll also find Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap and Brooks Brothers for fashion, plus beauty products from Origins and the latest gadgets at the Apple Store. There’s no tacky food court; try upscale eateries such as Brio Tuscan Grille and BJ’s Restaurant Brewhouse.
This glass box showroom is a beacon for buyers of classic modern furniture by the likes of Le Corbusier, Arne Jacobsen and Jasper Morrison. It is practically a Design District poster child. It features a greatest hits medley of modern designers, with pieces by Ron Arad, Arne Jacobsen, Philippe Starck, Zaha Hadid et al.
At the base of the The Rabbit Hole’s thriving online business is this small North Miami shop, which the New Times has declared one of the city’s best. Among the curated selection of vintage clothing is a great range of party dresses from the 1970s and ’80s, offering one-of-a-kind looks for $50 to $100 a pop. Modern threads—dresses, skirts, tops and accessories—can be had for half that price.
The light pink walls give this shop, which bills itself as a "playground for your imagination," a cool vintage feel. But the affordable boudoir getups are utterly contemporary. For those looking for some sexy swagger to go with their purchase, Sexy Secrets offers pole- and belly-dancing classes.
With its over-the-top architecture, giant man-made banyan trees and waterfalls, this is the Disney World of malls. Stores include Armani Exchange, Banana Republic, Gap, Urban Outfitters and Victoria’s Secret. A GameTime arcade, 24-screen multiplex and luxury bowling alley make this a hotspot for teens with time to kill.