I generally eschew large crowds and sprawling malls, but during the holly-daze, I make an exception. (Actually I make an exception when I need shoes, makeup, jeans, and pj’s, too.;) Strolling by the decorated windows and gazing at the inviting offerings immediately summons the Christmas spirit.
Our high-end mall in Sarasota is called University Town Center, or UTC for short, which opened two years ago. It’s the go-to place to shop for furniture (Arhaus, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, William Sonoma), fine apparel (Saks, Kate Spade, Banana Republic, Tommy Bahama, Michael Kors), hipster-wear (Free People, Anthropologie, Lucky Brand), athletic gear (Lululemon, Oakley, Foot Locker), electronics (Apple, Bose, Microsoft, Tesla), and shoes — oh, the shoes! I counted over fifteen shoe stores and fell in thrall with a place called Natural Comfort Footwear, which sells cushy shoes with style. Although I was intent upon Christmas shopping, I indulged in a little footwear for myself to stride through the holiday season on.
Santa is there of course, set up in a grand sleigh in the midst of sparkling packages, flickering trees, and dashes of faux snow. Children were winding their way through some sort of toy house en route to sit with Santa and have their pictures taken. Not a one was crying!
Another reason to visit UTC includes the dining scene. Shoppers can choose from light snacks like Le Macaron French pastries or Asian fare like Kona Grill or fine dining like Capital Grille and Seasons 52. When I need to rest my feet and readjust my packages, I like to sip a tall Americano at Starbucks and people-watch. Wi-fi is free in the mall, and seating is arranged in cozy nests on both levels.
On this most recent trip, I learned that the Customer Service Center offers gift cards for all stores at UTC. If finding a place to park elevates your blood pressure, valet parking is available between The Cheesecake Factory and Seasons 52.
Merry Holidays, one and all! I am feeling the Christmas spirit and not missing the mounds of dirty snow one bit!
The Sarasota Spectator
Our Sarasota Spectator is Betsy Miller, a retired high school teacher and college professor. Originally from Columbus, Betsy has fallen in love with the Gulf Coast of Florida, especially Sarasota. Blogging about the area has been a creative outlet for the writer, opening up an avenue of exploration. You may find the bon vivant enjoying happy hour at a tiki bar, shopping on historic Main Street, or seated at a concert or show at a local theater. Chances are you also might find her buried in a book on one of our beautiful beaches. Asked to give one word about her feelings for Sarasota, Betsy replied, “Smitten.”