The hardest part of pulling into the sprawling Miromar Outlets for a day of shopping is not finding parking: it's deciding where to go first. Conveniently situated just off I-75, about 18 miles south of Fort Myers, the more than 605,000-square-foot shopping mall is the second largest in Florida, and home to more than 140 top designer and brand name outlets.
It’s a shopper's paradise, with stores like Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales’ The Outlet Store, Michael Kors, Swarovski, Vera Bradley, Polo Ralph Lauren, Le Gourmet Chef, Tumi, Eddie Bauer, Abercrombie, Kate Spade, Coach and more recently Coach Men’s.
Choices like this and savings of up to 70% off of retail prices are enough to make even the most ambivalent shopper go mad. Thankfully, mall designers added just the right touches in the right places to help calm the frenzy. For instance, there are eight beautiful, old-world-European-style fountains and three Koi/turtle ponds.
All of the restaurants at this Mediterranean-style mall are local establishments — Photo courtesy of Miromar Outlets
There are also 18 eateries for refueling. Although the brands you shop for here are national and international, the full-service restaurants are all local; from the hip burger joint of Ford’s Garage to the fun and festive La Bamba Mexican Restaurant.
Miromar is a pet-friendly, family-friendly destination. There is an award-winning Playland for kids, special crafts for the little ones on Wednesdays and the last Saturday of the month is branded Kids Day, featuring a host of activities and giveaways.
Perhaps one of the most innovative things Miromar Outlets does for children is the Dancing Classrooms Program. Owners of the shopping mall teamed up with the Foundation for Lee Public Schools to bring this 10-week social development program to fifth graders in lower-income schools.
The Dancing Classrooms Project helps build social skills and self-esteem in lower-income students — Photo courtesy of Miromar Outlets
Utilizing ballroom dancing, the program helps students to build social awareness, confidence and self-esteem. The program culminates in an exhibition and competition, where participants get to show off their skills and social transformations. In five years, Dancing Classrooms has served some 6,000 students.
As for charities, Miromar Outlets sponsors one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for the Harry Chapin Food Bank. The Hunger Walk around the mall's perimeter and through its corridors each February raises in the neighborhood of $300,000 to help feed the hungry.
Another popular premier event is the Independence Eve Fireworks Celebration. Taking place the night before the Fourth of July each year, the outlet center throws a big bash with bands, kids activities, food and the main attraction: fireworks!
But you don’t have to wait for a holiday to be entertained. Miromar has live music on the weekends, fashion shows throughout the year, art shows, talent shows and lots more.
If you happen to be visiting for Thanksgiving and want to get a huge jump on Black Friday, the mall opens its doors at 10 p.m. Thursday. The already discounted items are discounted even further during this 23-hour shopping frenzy
Miromar first opened in 1998 with 55 stores. Since then, there have been four building phases, nearly tripling the size, with one more to come. While it's not known exactly when the final phase will occur, it is known that shopping space will increase to more than 700,000 thousand square feet.
This open-air, Mediterranean-style shopping mall has covered sidewalks with bright murals and lots of parking. Its one-of-a-kind blend of superb outlets, architecture and dining has established Miromar Outlets as the premier shopping destination in Southwest Florida.