A Guide to Sarasota, Florida's Malls

The town of Sarasota has many beautiful and unique shopping destinations for tourists and locals alike. St. Armand's Circle has a myriad of shops and restaurants. Downtown Sarasota is lined with independent and chain establishments. But when it comes classic, brick-and-mortar malls, Sarasota has three choices: The Mall at University Town Center, Westfield Sarasota Square and Westfield Southgate. They are pretty different from one other, so understanding what each one has to offer will help shoppers better choose the mall that's right for them.

1. The Mall at University Town Center

This is Sarasota's newest mall, celebrating it's grand opening in 2015. The mall itself houses lots of upscale stores like Brooks Brothers and Crate and Barrel, but also has room for a few midrange stores (like Forever21 and H&M). You won't find a Chick Fil A or Wendy's, but shoppers can enjoy The Cheesecake Factory or YO! Sushi, a hip sushi joint that brings food to you on a conveyor belt moving at 8cm per second. The mall is in an area of Sarasota that's going through enormous growth. If you can't find what you're looking for in the mall, new stores are popping up in the periphery every day. There's an Old Navy, Super Target, Nordstrom Rack, Bed, Bath & Beyond, BJ's Wholesale Club and a ton more. The biggest weakness of the area is that there's not a good size movie theater anywhere close. But with the growth this area has been experiencing, it's only a matter of time.

2. Westfield Sarasota Square

About fifteen miles south of UTC is the Westfield Sarasota Square. Dubbed "a shopping center for the family" by one Google reviewer, Sarasota Square has a carousel, a train that drives children through the halls and an indoor play area. The stores are also family and budget friendly. Big stores include JCPenney, Sears, and a huge Costco attached to the building. Small stores include options like Bath & Body Works, Justice and Express. The food court has fare for the quick and cheap as well as more formal family dining options. A major bonus of this mall is the AMC theater. It's one of the biggest theaters in Sarasota with twelve screens and even IMAX.

3. Westfield Southgate

This mall is tiny and confusing. It's not dirty or dumpy, but huge vacancies in the mall make it seem ... deserted? Apparently the opening of the University Town Center was a big blow for the smaller mall. However, a new CineBistro is supposed to open in February 2016. It's a luxury dining/viewing experience "that's key to the revitalization of Westfield Southgate" according to the Herald-Tribune. It'll have seven screens and feature American bistro-style food. Hopefully the addition of the CineBistro attracts new business to the mall so it can fill in some gaps and provide a better shopping experience for its customers.

Asia Dekle studied media arts at Brigham Young University and runs a professional writing business from her home in Sarasota, Florida. She enjoys exploring local beaches, museums and other points of interest so readers know what's fun and unique about her home town. She also loves to sing, dance, and read.‚Äč