Shopping in this slice of Florida runs the gamut from fashionable malls to one-of-a-kind boutiques and everything in between. Try a taste of the Caribbean at Pier Park, a themed open-air mall just a block from Panama City Beach, complete with amusement rides. Browse downtown Pensacola’s galleries for inspired creations.
In the tiny Jackson County town of Graceville, you’ll find the Service Drugstore, the oldest continuously operated pharmacy in Florida. There’s a captivating old-time ambience here, with original apothecary cabinetry, hardwood floors and a pressed-tin ceiling, not to mention the old-fashioned milkshakes, ice cream floats and hand-dipped ice cream cones whipped up at the 1950s soda fountain.
Reid Avenue in Port St. Joe is a half-mile-long stroll back into the Old South. Outdoor gear? Books? Jewelry? Local pottery or artwork? Luxury spa treatment? It’s all here, along with restaurants running the gamut from Italian and Southern to Chinese and Mexican. At the Salt Air Farmers Market, on the first and third Saturdays from April through November, you can find clothing, antiques and timeless treasures along with the fresh produce.
As you drive through the charming little town of Mexico Beach, you’ll come across Frost Pottery Garden, which features imported pottery, great kites for the beach, wind chimes, jewelry and local artwork. The Shell Shack offers gifts plucked from one of Florida’s most beautiful beaches, and Toucan’s gift shop features great gifts for the folks back home.
The Little Village in Panama City has an offbeat collection of outdoor shops. At The Little Mustard Seed, wander through three stories overflowing with custom furniture, handmade soaps and lotions, jewelry and a thousand items that have been revived, renewed and restored. The town’s historic St. Andrews neighborhood has shops that have been featured on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow.
Across the water in Panama City Beach, Pier Park is an “outdoor shopping and lifestyle center” with a wide variety of items to buy, eat or ogle. The Market Shops, on the Beaches of South Walton, offer outdoor shopping accompanied by musicians and artists. In Rosemary Beach, a planned town built in the mid-90s on the principle of “New Urbanism” (much like its neighbor Seaside, which preceded it by 15 years), the French Quarter, with its balconies and vividly colored buildings and curling wrought-iron railings, is a delightful place to while away an afternoon shopping and dining.
In Destin, HarborWalk Village has an old-time feel, with vendors, artists and street performers outside, and stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay. On The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island, you’ll find five restaurants and some shops. Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is a city-size resort with a pedestrian village filled with shops and places to dine. The area’s natural beauty attracts artists specializing in all media from watercolor to fusion glass, textiles, jewelry and shell art. Places to find prominent galleries include Seaside and other communities along State Road 30A.
Nearby Fort Walton Beach is filled with boutiques, restaurants and galleries—even a brewery. Hunt for bargains at Silver Sands Premium Outlets in Miramar Beach, and the Fort Walton Beach Antique/Flea Market District has treasures you never knew you needed until now.
30Avenue in Inlet Beach is an up-and-coming shopping mecca. Notable retailers in the new shopping center include Willow + Mercer, which has expanded from the original Willow boutique.
Downtown Pensacola offers a vibrant retail and dining scene, especially along Palafox Street.Anchored by Dick’s Sporting Goods and an upscale Dillard’s, Pensacola’s sprawling 120-store Cordova Mall has food galore and dozens of familiar chain stores.
The Pensacola Beach Boardwalk (formerly the Portofino Boardwalk) is a typical Florida shopping, dining, entertainment, beach and water sports complex that’s well worth a whole day or an entire evening.The Shell, a landmark amphitheater, is always a photo-op backdrop and often the setting for concerts. Arrive on the free trolley or ferry. Visitors may also come by boat and tie up at the dock or drive in and park at the public beach.
Stroll Apalachicola to find unique treasures on every block, like fish sculptures, handmade chocolates, sponges harvested from the Gulf, dressy apparel and nautical antiques.
With so many places to shop, where do you even begin?
Now it’s your turn! Which places have you been? Where do you want to go? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us all!