The Ten Best Shopping Malls in Miami

Depending upon whom you ask, malls are either hectic battlegrounds for parking spaces or relaxing portals to retail therapy. But no matter which camp you belong to, there's no denying South Florida is a haven for malls. At a time when many shopping and entertainment centers are closing across the nation, malls are thriving and multiplying down here.

From Miami-Dade County to Broward, these are the ten best shopping malls in South Florida.

Aventura Mall

19501 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura

South Florida likes to do things over-the-top. That might explain why the city of Aventura's namesake mall is home to a nearly 93-foot-tall tubular slide. The Aventura Slide Tower, designed by the German artist Carsten Höller, was named New Times' best cheap thrill in 2018's Best of Miami issue. Sliding down the silver sculpture is a good way to combat buyer's remorse after a long day of shopping, especially because admission is free. Sure, you can shop till you drop and stuff your face at the food court like you can do at any other mall on this list, but Aventura's expansive contemporary art collection — including works by Takashi Murakami, Virgil Abloh, the Haas Brothers, and others — makes this mall worthy of a visit even if you leave empty-handed. Catch a complimentary hourlong guided tour of the works on display beginning at 6:30 p.m. next to the koi pond in Center Court. RSVP for the tour on Aventura Mall's website.

Bal Harbour Shops

9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour

It's no secret Miami is known for glitz and glamor. Chances are that $5,395 tweed and satin Balmain shirt jacket you saw on a guest dining at Swan came from one of the most luxurious malls in America: Bal Harbour Shops. This lush, open-air, 450,000-square-foot retail mecca, built on the site of a World War II army barracks, boasts high-end restaurants and boutiques such as Chanel, Gucci, Valentino, and Versace. If you aren't willing to spend your month's rent on a handbag, head to Books & Books, grab a light read, and relax beside the koi ponds.

Brickell City Centre

701 S. Miami Ave., Miami

It's easy to succumb to online shopping when parking woes keep you away from bustling shopping centers. But Miami's Brickell City Centre is one of the handful of malls on this list that is easily accessible by public transportation. Whether you're arriving via Metromover or trolley, or walking a few blocks from the Brickell Metrorail Station, this is one of the few spots in Miami where you can ditch the car. The multi-level, indoor/outdoor space offers a Saturday farmers' market, a luxurious movie theater equipped with pillows and blankets, high-end shops, restaurants, a food hall, and other diversions. Why wouldn't you want to spend an entire day at this city within a city?

Dadeland Mall

7535 N. Kendall Dr., Miami

The most notable trait of Dadeland Mall in Kendall is the large "D" that stands atop a tall teal tower visible from the Palmetto Expressway. Operating for close to 60 years, the mall is a Miami icon. Dadeland's classic department stores — Nordstrom, J.C. Penney, and Macy's — bookend dozens of shops. In recent years, the mall was renovated to include a wing offering more sit-down dining options and additional stores.

Dolphin Mall

11401 NW 12th St., Sweetwater

This is the mall that has it all. With a combination of outlet and name-brand stores such as Bose, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, and Saks 5th Avenue, there is something for everyone at this retail destination west of Miami International Airport. Plus, there are plenty of choices when it comes to food, two cinemas (Cobb Theatres and CinéBistro), a bowling alley, and an IKEA store next door. And if you're having too much fun to want to go home, the Courtyard by Marriott Miami is located onsite.

The Falls

8888 SW 136th St., Miami

Just west of South Dixie Highway near Palmetto Bay, the Falls is a large outdoor mall that makes shopping an experience rather than a fleeting moment. Although you might be in a rush, the second you enter the open-air shopping area, the natural-looking fountains, rocks, and foliage make you want to stop and take a breather. During the holidays, the place is decked with festive lights and jolly decorations. Aside from shopping options such as Bloomingdale's, the Apple Store, Macy's, and several restaurants, Regal Cinemas stands in the center of it all.

The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale

2414 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

Self-described as "Fort Lauderdale’s most fashionable address," the Galleria offers styles at more than 100 fashion retailers. For some spending courage, drop by Neiman Marcus' Mermaid Bar for happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. You'll probably go home with a haul larger than expected when shopping at spots such as Free People, H&M, J. Crew, Lucky Brand, and Michael Kors.

Sawgrass Mills

12801 W. Sunrise Blvd., Sunrise

Is there anything more Florida than an alligator-shaped mall? The ode to the reptile, located in the central-west Broward city of Sunrise, boasts more than 350 stores, restaurants, and a cineplex. If you're looking for the swanky stuff, head to the mall's Colonnade Outlets for Burberry, Diane von Furstenberg, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tory Burch, Versace, and other designers. If you're a tourist and you aren't zipping through the mall with a rolling suitcase in hand, are you even shopping at Sawgrass Mills? Warning: If you can't find your car in the parking lot at this massive outlet mall, you're pretty much out of luck — unless a security guard takes pity on your soul and drives you around on a golf cart to aid in the search.

Shops at Merrick Park

358 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables

Shops at Merrick Park boasts not only great stores — including Madewell, Carolina Herrera, and Anthropologie — but also a beautiful open design. While you shop, you can also enjoy the outdoor gardens and pleasant South Florida weather. Located in Coral Gables, Merrick Park is also a convenient spot for shoppers who want something beyond the stores along Miracle Mile. And if you happen to get the urge to buy a luxury car, the Collection is within walking distance.

The Shops at Sunset Place

5701 Sunset Dr., South Miami

Where else can you find a mall that offers a cineplex, one of Miami's best all-ages music venues, a bowling alley, a nightlife scene across the street, and plenty of shops and eateries that spill out around it? No mall does a better job of introducing patrons to its surroundings than the Shops at Sunset Place. You can get your shopping done, grab a quick bite, and maybe even get creative at Color Me Mine. Then catch a movie or walk to Bougainvillea's Old Florida Tavern for a night of music. There is a paid parking garage onsite, but you might get lucky and snag a metered spot on the street in this pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.
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Carolina del Busto is a freelance writer for Miami New Times. She nurtured her love of words at Boston College before moving back home to Miami and has been covering arts and culture in the Magic City since 2013.