This year, the expansive outdoor shopping mall—it's more of a retail oasis, really—is celebrating its 50th anniversary with loads of events, sales, and parties. Expect visitors passing through for Art Basel Miami to stop in for retail therapy high and low at shops like FAO Schwartz, Abercrombie & Fitch, Prada, Ralph Lauren, and pretty much every other major international brand you can think of.
The privately-held mall has been a beacon for international shoppers as well: Brazilians and Russians are known to spend the night at the St. Regis Bal Harbour across the street when they sweep through town on shopping sprees. Yes, it's cheaper for them to fly across the globe and stay in a luxury hotel to shop for merch from Cartier, Gucci, Harry Winston, and Van Cleef & Arpels, than it is to simply purchase all that bling back home.
Bal Harbour Shops is known for its high celeb quotient, but also for a lot of firsts: Neiman Marcus opened its first store outside of Texas at The Shops in 1971; Saks Fifth Avenue joined in 1976. Revered European brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, and Oscar de la Renta chose Bal Harbour for their first stores outside of New York. It's also the most lucrative of any mall in the world, as determined by sales per square foot (this is great for cocktail chatter): In 2014, The Shops earned $2,854 per square foot of retail space.
Even if you're not in the market for a Goyard carry-all or an Audemars Piguet watch, cruise the palm-lined walkways for some breathtaking window shopping—not to mention star-spotting. Don't miss the new Fashion Project, an experimental space on the third floor curated by edgy London-based exhibition designer Judith Clark. The cultural space is devoted to thought-provoking projects and public programs that explore fashion and the culture surrounding its design, innovation, production, and consumption.
Then buy a bikini and hit the beach, just a few steps away.