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Can you recommend a shopping destination in the U.S?

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We're just back from three weeks (too long) in Michigan where, in addition to visiting friends and family, we shopped for things we can"t find in Costa Rica. We brought back a lot, as we always do. For reasons that don't warrant going into, our next trip to the U.S. may not be to Michigan, but we do still want to shop the typical retail outlets the next time we go north. Included in our list of shopping venues would be Home Depot and Lowe's, Walmart, PetSmart, Bed, Bath and Beyond, department stores (Penny's, Macy's, Yunkers(sp?), Sears, etc), the Apple Store (of course!), etc.


For our next U.S. shopping trip, we're thinking that Michigan may not make the best sense, but can anyone make a recommendation for a better alternative? Lately, I've looked at air fares to Dallas and Houston, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, etc but they all seem to be roughly the same price (read: "expensive") and about the same as flying to Detroit. Is there any place that's cheaper to fly to and which is likely to have the shopping venues we want?


I'm aware of Spirit Airline's $9 fair deals, but since we'd have to make plans well in advance to have a house sitter, that probably wouldn't work for us. Too, the cost of hotels would enter the picture.


Any thoughts?



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If it really costs the same to fly to/from Detroit compared to the southern US hubs then returning to Detroit may still be a good option. Especially if you will have free lodging with friends/family.


The absolute lowest cost airfares to CR that I have seen were from Florida. Spirit Air notwithstanding, Jet Blue, American and a host of other airlines fly there so there is some competition.


All of the southern US airline hubs are at or near major metro areas so all will have plenty of shopping available. Though I have probably flown through every airline hub in the US, I really only have much experience outside of the airport in LA and Houston. LA is.... well, LA. Big and nasty. Good thins are: Probably any store and/or product known to man will be available somewhere there and you wouldn't have to speak English unless you want to. IAH (Houston) is in the suburbs north of town. Lots of shopping in Malls and retail centers. Plenty of reasonable lodging (<$100/night) nearby. Of the two, Houston would be my choice.



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I would say Florida. Check Tampa (TPA), Miami (MIA), Ft. Lauderdale (FTL) and Orlando (MCO). All would offer the stores and resonably priced hotels. I know you can get Spirit flights (without the $9 club), for less than $300 roundtrip. That being said, you will still have to factor in your luggage. If you are going for a shopping trip, might be prudent just to plan on going to Walmart and buying a couple of duffle bags once stateside (rather than paying for a suitcase).

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Say a little more, please, Carol. We've never been to Panama City. Are there stores there with the merchandise we're likely to find in the States?

I found there were stores with just about anything you want. I looked around a lot But didn't really go for shopping. did buy camera,clothes,etc. There was lots of choice. easy to get around,lots places to eat. lots malls but I liked Albrook Shopping mall price wise from cheaper up . Some malls were too expensive for my taste.


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Orlando, served by JetBlue as Jessica mentions above, is a good shopping area with lots of everything closeby. But as a tourist mecca it'll be more expensive for lodging unles you can find a nice little local independent (Mom 'N Pop) motel somewhere. And if you don't sty IN Orlando proper you will surely need to rent a car.


Panama City is an international hub and one can find lots of electronics, computers, etc. there at much cheaper prices than CR. It might be worth estimating the duties that would be assessed if you expect to be bringing back goods in an amount worht in excess of US$500. And it might be worth flying to PTY which might minimize the requirements being asked foor at the border crossings.


Also check and see if Naturair or Sansa is offering flights to Panama from CR. I think there are some seasonal ones that go to David, in Panama which is a large enough city to be likely to have an aceptable selection of electronics, etc. at attractive prices.


Just some thoughts for you.




Paul M.


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JetBlue to Ft. Lauderdale.


Head directly to Sawgrass Mills Mall (google it) about 8-10 west of the airport. Everything under the sun for shopping (many as outlets) and many more stores outside, around the mall. Hotels/motels adjacent to the mall as this is a destination place it is so big.

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A few comments: first for Legs Murray, JetBlue wherever possible if you're going to FL. IMO Spirit is to be avoided at all costs, not that you asked. If you can avoid tourist season, prices can be very reasonable -- in the $300 range RT. Maybe PTY (Panama City) would be comparable? Others can maybe tell you about some of your specific stores.


And to Elaine, we're going to Seattle in a few days, to see family and buy a bunch of stuff: herbs and spice blends that you cannot get here (and you cannot ship them in, either, on account of customs requirements), some pet supplies (Greenies! toys not made in China for our cat), domestics (sheets and cotton blankets, which are much less expensive and much higher quality there). Some books, which can certainly be sent here, but which cost a small fortune in shipping costs. A few kitchen items either not available here or very expensive. Rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. As I recall, rubbing alcohol has very scary ingredients here, including hydrochloric acid (I used a very small amount on my skin, just to test it, and it took the skin off -- ouch!), as I recall, and hydrogen peroxide isn't available here at all. Take a good supply of prescription drugs. Some things are readily available here, whereas others are not, or availability changes. Drugs/food supplements/etc are treated the same as herbs and spices above and you cannot import any of them without an import permit, which is expensive and from what I understand, rarely granted to individuals in any case.




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Elaine, read Gayle's response immediately above for a partial list. In addition, hardware items like hose repair parts, hand and power tools, specialty items like batteries for my Black and Decker leaf blower and for my Ryobi power tools, a ready supply of Apple products at tolerable prices, (most recently) a strapless pulse rate monitor, nutritional supplements, a wider selection of clothing and shoes (especially if you have big feet), a wide selection of wireless phones, a Hoover Commercial handheld vacuum that's the cat's ass for bare tile floors, those Mr. Clean cleaner sponges that are the only thing I've found that will actually clean the leather upholstery in our Terracan, other cleaning supplies not available here . . . (the list goes on).


In some cases, it's a matter of something useful simply not being available here. In other cases, the local selection is limited or you have to travel to or near San Jose to find it. In still other cases, it's a matter of price. I've said this before . . . If I have to pay the airline for a suitcase, by golly I'm gonna get my money's worth, so if it's underweight, I'll fill it up with toothpaste (don't look for Crest here) and deodorant.


Gayle, you can get hydrogen peroxide in small bottles here in the farmacias. Ask for agua oxygenia (I think it is).

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