Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fort Lauderdale 2013

It has been almost an entire seven months since my last trip.  Definitely time to fly again.  My trip this morning started out at O'Hare International Airport, where a TSA lady decided to do a pat down check on my hair because it was too frizzy.  Thoroughly unpleasant experience.  Not amused.

Anyways, we're on our way to Miami and Fort Lauderdale to visit family and friends, and to see Marissa's junior recital at UM.  Along the way, we're also planning to visit as many alligators as possible in the everglades.  Winter in Chicago has been a rude awakening, through which I would have preferred to sleep, after living in Madrid where winter is more like fall.  Though it's nearly April, the temperature around Chicago has been in the 20s and 30s, unfortunately Fahrenheit.  So I'm totally ready to hop aboard a flight to Florida.

Since it was a bit chilly for the beach when we arrived, we decided to check out the Sawgrass Mills outlet mall.  In years past, I have found fantastic deals in the Banana Republic Factory Store and the Nike Outlet.  This time around, we decided to check out the shops in the Colonnade section of the gigantic mall.  At the Colonnade, we scoped out Kate Spade New York, Coach, Prada, Le Creuset, Tory Burch, Elie Tahari, Stuart Weitzman, Tommy Bahama's, Hugo Boss, theory, Michael Kors, and Burberry.  Most of those are outlets, so we decided to go see if there were any good deals.

The best deals, of all the stores listed, were at Kate Spade.  Still though, the purse I liked (but definitely didn't buy) was about $175.  I had been seeing people wear the Tori Burch shoes for years, but didn't bother to try them on because they are too wide for my feet.  Same problem with the Ferragamo store.

Another Coach Version, $498
(photo from Coach)

The Coach Version, $798
(photo from Coach)
The best deal of the day was on my purse - the one I brought with me from home.  At the Kate Spade outlet, they thought it was a Coach bag (left and right).  In the Stuart Weitzman outlet, a customer said she loved my bag and wanted to know which of the stores it was from there.  In the Cole Haan outlet, the salespeople spotted my bag and commented right away.  But they were all wrong.  It was $36 from Target.  I'm officially a genius shopper.

My bag is in the upper right corner blending in on a shelf at the Kate Spade outlet.  
One thing to watch out for at designer outlet stores is that the bags, clothes, and shoes sold in them are often different from the brand's products sold in their full retail stores.  It's still technically that brand, but it's their second line.  While this bothers some people, others have no problem with it.  Coach is notorious for selling different products at their outlet stores.  I'm not sure if the other brands listed also do this, but it's definitely worth asking in the store before making a purchase.  Another apparently fantastic option is to buy everything at Target.  ;-)

The Sawgrass Mills outlet mall has been extremely crowded each time I have been there, because it's so wonderful to have so many outlets together.  However, the crowds can make the shopping experience a bit stressful at times.  Buses of people are brought to the mall to shop since it is one of Fort Lauderdale's most popular attractions.  I sort of treated the Colonnade stores like a museum.  Even the regular stores are crowded though.

A fun feature we noticed at the Colonnade shops was that there were sculptures of decorated alligators all throughout the landscaping.  Since this is Florida, there was even one wearing a bikini.  Appropriately dressed for this section of the mall, another alligator held a handbag and wore sunglasses.
Known by some as "Needless Markup"

Later in the day, we went to the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park for a quick stroll around their trails before dinner.  The park, the donated estate of Hugh Taylor, offers visitors a chance to hike, canoe, see wildlife, and more.  One big attraction on the hiking trails is the banyan trees, which twist, wind, and melt over other trees.  As always, I like to note the different vegetation in different climates when I travel.  I have always found the tropical plants like palm trees and broad, colorful leaves fascinating.  Strolling along the peaceful trails and listening to all the natural sounds almost felt cleansing after the commotion of the Colonnade shopping.


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