The cities have popular shopping malls, anchored by familiar national chain stores, but the area’s most offbeat shopping is in communities where former main-street mercantiles have evolved into boutiques selling antiques, handmade items of all kinds, specialty foods and baked goods. Within a stroll of two or three blocks you can have lunch and shop for one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Bringing home a few of the local goods goes hand-in-hand with travel and folks will find plenty of shops with antiques, crafts, art and home decor items in the area. Almost every small downtown area in North Central Florida has something available for those looking to pick up a thing or two.
Micanopy (Mick-can-OH-pea) is a tiny hideaway on the site of a pre-Colombian settlement that was platted by a New York developer in the early 1800s. Mansions, homes and merchants took root, only to see a fickle public move on to other settlements. Seemingly frozen in the 1950s, the hamlet has restaurants, bookstores and antiques.
Micanopy is one of the most well-known antique destinations in the entire state. It’s the oldest inland city in Florida, so you can expect to find special treasures in this historic location. Stroll down Cholokka Boulevard and stop in at Delectable Collectibles for a wide range of antiques and vintage items. Don’t miss the Mosswood Farm Store and Bakehouse for earth-friendly crafts, pastries, jams, jellies, marmalades and bread baked in an outdoor brick oven. Just outside of town, Smiley’s Antique Mall offers 25,000 square feet of space with vendors specializing in different types of collectibles and rarities.
Alachua’s old town center, home of quaint galleries and restaurants, is complemented by the new Alachua Gateway Center just outside the historic district. Shop and dine your way through both.
The region has six wineries, including the Dakotah Vineyards and Winery in Chiefland. They offer tastings, tours and discounts on case lots.
Ethnic food stores are abundant in the two college towns. At the Equal Ease Plaza on Southwest 34th Street in Gainesville, large stores specialize in Indian, Middle Eastern, Indonesian, Philippino and Asian foods rarely found elsewhere.
The Haile Village Farmers Market is the perfect place to purchase fresh produce, enjoy prepared food and connect with some of the finest artisans in the Gainesville area. Fashionistas will find their flair at the Oaks Mall, Thornebrook Village and Tioga Town Center. Don’t overlook the boutiques in downtown Gainesville, where you’ll find anything from vinyl albums and Blu-rays at Hear Again Music and Movies to premier designs at Etc…Boutique. For antiques, in addition to Micanopy, check out Waldo Antique Village and Waldo Farmers and Flea Market in Waldo as well as Roadside Relics in High Springs.
Bradley’s Country Store, reached from Tallahassee via one of the region’s oak-cloaked canopy roads, retains the old-time charm of the 1927 original. Sausages are still made and smoked on-site. Stop to buy souvenirs and stock up on smoked meats, local honey, coarse-ground grits, mayhaw jelly, cracklings and such.
The Tallahassee Downtown Market celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014 and is the place to go on Saturdays for local produce, live music, arts and crafts and ready-to-eat foods. Things kick off at 9 AM with the sound of bagpipes during the Mercat March, a piper-led parade of merchants announcing they are open. It’s a great place to get a feel for what’s happening in Tallahassee.
Governor’s Square Mall in Tallahassee is a two-level shopper’s nirvana with features such as stroller rentals, ATMs and a large choice of eateries. Dozens of small stores are anchored by JCPenney, Sears, Macy’s and Dillard’s.
The real shopping treasures in this area are the unique boutiques, consignment shops, galleries, studios and workshops one stumbles upon in hamlets such as Havana, Micanopy and Madison. Old tobacco warehouses, downtown mercantiles and former banks now house artists and antiques merchants.
At Dowling Park, crafters at Advent Christian Village retirement community create handmade quilts and baby gifts for sale in the Rustic Shop.Market Day held here on the first Saturday of each month features bluegrass music, crafters from throughout the region and special sales at the village’s unique shops. Have lunch overlooking the Suwannee River.