Shopping & Dining Guide to University Town Center and Waterside Place

Discover new favorites while revisiting old ones at these two world-class shopping/dining meccas.

The University Town Center, also known by visitors and locals alike as the UTC, a district where friends and families find themselves at the center of it all. From big-brand retail stores and local boutiques to fitness/wellness services, seasonal events and restaurants of every price point and cuisine style, the UTC is ever-growing and evolving as one of Sarasota County's favorite shopping, dining, entertainment and lifestyle destinations. 

With over 200+ retailers to shop at, and 80+ eateries to dine at, it's easy to feel a bit overwhelmed. But, it certainly doesn't have to be. Head to the UTC having a bit of background knowledge of what to expect, how to navigate and where to go depending on what you're looking for. 

A bit further east in Lakewood Ranch on the water’s edge of Kingfisher Lake, find the brand-new social town center known as Waterside Place. The open-air environment concept allows you to soak in the Florida sun while you get your steps in, discovering a multitude of locally-owned businesses for shopping, dining, pampering and socializing. 

Shop Till You Drop

Discover new-to-you retailers, as well as your tried and true favorite ones, between the UTC and Waterside Place.

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An Entrance to The Mall at UTC

The Mall at UTC features approximately 880,000 square feet of retail space—including designer name brands of the national and international department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, and Dillard's. Not to mention, more than 150 stores and distinctive retailers not found anywhere else in the local area. Expect a diverse mix of trending fashion such as H&M, American Eagle, Athleta, Lululemon, Francesca's, Free People, Lilly Pulitzer, Michael Kors, Anthropology, Urban Outfitters, Fabletics and many more; beauty supply stores such as Sephora, Bath & Body Works, Lush, Mac, Blue Mercury, Aveda and more; and lifestyle retailers such as Apple, Tesla, Tommy Bahama, Z Gallerie, Warby Parker, Crate & Barrel, Fit2Run and more. Throughout the beautifully-built mall, find plenty of cozy areas to sit down and relax in between your marathon shopping spree. 

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Beyond The Mall, around the Town Center, it is a one-stop-shop destination for recognizable brick-and-mortar storefronts that encompass this consumer mecca—making it all too easy to spend an entire day here sorting through racks and finding treasures to take home with you. From Barnes & Noble, REI, ULTA, Old Navy and DSW Shoe Warehouse to Home Goods, Dick's Sporting Goods, Nordstrom Rack, Home Goods and TJ Maxx, all your favorite big boxes can be found for your everyday needs. 

At the brand new Waterside Place, find stylish local boutiques, salons and specialty shops—including the trendy women's boutiques, Marmalade and Monkee's, as well as beauty and wellness services such as Modish Salon, Mancave at Waterside, PAINT Nail Bar, Shore Rejuvenation Day Spa & Boutique, Bay Area Aesthetics and more to spend a weekend indulging in some serious retail therapy. Florida Provisions is another great shop stop to load up on beach or boat day gear or apparel, while simultaneously picking up a 6-pack of Florida craft beer and gourmet snacks. 

Eat Good, Leave Full

From fast-casual to fine dining and everything in between, whether shopping solo, with a group of friends or bringing the entire family along with — enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner, sweet snacks and anytime treats at both the UTC and Waterside Place

Within The Mall, find upscale dining, casual eateries and food specialty shops with over 20 dining options. Standouts include Kona Grill, The Capital Grille, The Cheesecake Factory, Brio Italian Grille, Cinnabon, Rise Pies Handcrafted Pizza, Gelato-Go, Seasons 52 and more. 

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Outdoor Seating at Blaze Pizza and JPAN Sushi, University Town Center

Around the Town Center, test your decision-making skills by being tempted by a mix of well-known state-wide and country-wide names such as Shake Shack, Jenni's Splendid Ice Creams, Blaze Pizza, Crumbl Cookies, Bonefish Grill, Rocco's Tacos, Glory Days, Keke's Breakfast Cafe, Poppo's Taqueria, Fresh Kitchen, Bento Asian Kitchen and so many more. If you'd rather try the more locally owned and beloved restaurants you've likely not heard of (if from out of town), opt for Georgie's Garden Cafe, Oak & Stone, JPan Sushi, Selva Grill, Origin Craft Beer & Pizza Cafe, 3Natives Acai & Juicery, Anna Maria Oyster Bar, Five-O Donut, Schuller's Draft House, Ford's Garage, Mademoiselle Parisian Bakery & Cafe, Anna's Deli and more.

At Waterside Place, find local favorites that range from healthful and delicious to decadent and indulgent. Be sure to put CROP Juice, Good Liquid Brewing Co., Kore Steakhouse, Kilwin's, O&A Coffee and Supply, Duck Donuts, Agave Bandido, Deep Lagoon, Osteria 500 Italian Restaurant, and Forked at Waterside on your list when heading here for either a quick snack or full-fledged meal. And on Sundays, enjoy the Farmers' Market at Lakewood Ranch, now taking place all year-round on Sundays at Waterside Place. Stroll the scenic streets and taste dozens of local food vendors—from fresh-baked biscuits, beignets and empanadas to Philly cheese steaks, artisan ice cream and smoked barbecue. 

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Food Trucks Galore at Ranch Nite Wednesdays, Waterside Place

There really is no shortage of options for you and whoever's tagging along with you. Between The Mall, University Town Center, and Waterside Place, Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch have undoubtedly everything for every taste, style and desire!