Sawgrass Mills Mall: Alligator-Shaped Marvel of Sunrise, FL

Sawgrass Mills: A Retail and Entertainment Powerhouse

Nestled in Sunrise, FloridaSawgrass Mills opened its doors on October 4, 1990, marking a significant milestone in the region’s retail landscape.

Developed by the Mills Corporation and now owned by Simon Property Group, this sprawling shopping complex has evolved into one of the largest outlets and valued retail shopping destinations in the United States.

Sawgrass Mills extends over 2,370,000 square feet of retail space, making it not only the largest single-story outlet mall in the US but also a significant player in the commercial and trade sectors of Broward County.

It houses over 300 retail outlets and name-brand discounters, including anchor tenants like Marshalls, Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Super Target, and Burlington, alongside a rich selection of dining and entertainment options.

Sawgrass Mills has become a pivotal part of the local community and a key destination for visitors seeking things to do in Miami, Florida.

Its continuous evolution, from adding new stores and services to adapting to the latest retail trends, ensures that Sawgrass Mills remains at the forefront of the shopping mall industry.

As of 2024, Sawgrass Mills continues to attract shoppers and tourists alike, offering a unique blend of retail, dining, and entertainment experiences.

The Genesis and Growth of Sawgrass Mills

Early Beginnings and Development

Sawgrass Mills, a brainchild of the Mills Corporation, marked its grand opening on October 4, 1990. This initial phase set the foundation for what would become a retail giant in Sunrise, Florida.

The mall’s early years were characterized by rapid growth and expansion, attracting many tenants and shoppers.

The developer’s vision was to create a shopping destination to serve the local community and draw visitors from afar.

Architectural Design and Layout

The design of Sawgrass Mills, crafted by the renowned firm Arquitectonica, is unique and symbolic.

Resembling the shape of an alligator, this design pays homage to Florida’s native wildlife and the Everglades ecosystem.

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Despite its vast size, the mall’s layout was meticulously planned to provide an easy and enjoyable shopping experience. This architectural ingenuity has been a key factor in the mall’s enduring appeal.

Expansion Over the Years

Sawgrass Mills has undergone several expansions since its inception. The first major expansion occurred with the addition of The Oasis in 1999, a section that brought new life and entertainment options to the mall.

2006 The Colonnade Outlets were introduced, offering an upscale shopping experience with luxury brands. These expansions have not only increased the mall’s size but also its diversity in retail offerings.

The Unique Structure of Sawgrass Mills

Design Concept

The alligator-inspired design of Sawgrass Mills is more than just an architectural choice; it’s a symbol of the mall’s deep connection to the Floridian landscape.

This unique concept has made the mall a landmark and a talking point, distinguishing it from traditional shopping centers.

The Division into Sections

Sawgrass Mills is divided into three main areas: the main mall, The Oasis, and The Colonnade Outlets. Each section offers a distinct shopping and entertainment experience.

The main mall houses a variety of stores and services, and The Oasis focuses on entertainment and dining, and The Colonnade Outlets feature high-end brands and upscale dining options.

Innovative Features and Facilities

Sawgrass Mills stands out for its innovative features. The mall offers more than shopping, from themed courts to unique design elements. It’s a place where architecture and retail merge to create an immersive experience.

The mall’s layout and facilities have been thoughtfully designed to cater to the needs and preferences of diverse customers.

Anchor Stores and Major Retailers at Sawgrass Mills

Last Call by Neiman Marcus

Last Call by Neiman Marcus offers a luxurious shopping experience with various designer brands at discounted prices.

This outlet store is a haven for fashion enthusiasts seeking high-end labels without the steep price tags, making it a key attraction at Sawgrass Mills.


Marshalls at Sawgrass Mills provides shoppers with discounted designer and brand-name fashion.

Known for its value pricing, this store attracts a diverse clientele looking for quality fashion and home decor items at affordable rates.

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Dick’s Sporting Goods is a go-to destination for sports enthusiasts visiting Sawgrass Mills.

Offering a wide selection of sports gear, apparel, and equipment, it caters to amateur and professional athletes and outdoor adventurers.

Rainforest Cafe

Rainforest Cafe at Sawgrass Mills isn’t just a restaurant; it’s an adventure. This themed dining experience, complete with lush foliage and animatronic wildlife, offers a unique, family-friendly atmosphere beyond the traditional dining experience.

Bloomingdale’s – The Outlet Store

Bloomingdale’s – The Outlet Store brings the allure of high-end fashion to Sawgrass Mills. Shoppers can find various luxury brands at reduced prices, making it a popular spot for those seeking designer apparel and accessories.

Saks OFF 5TH

Saks OFF 5TH provides an upscale shopping experience with a wide range of designer apparel and accessories at outlet prices. This store is a treasure trove for fashionistas looking for luxury brands without the luxury price tags.

TJ Maxx

TJ Maxx at Sawgrass Mills offers a diverse range of discounted fashion, home goods, and beauty products. Known for its ever-changing selection, it’s a favorite for shoppers seeking quality brands at bargain prices.

Nike Factory Store

The Nike Factory Store is a must-visit for sports and fitness enthusiasts. Offering a wide selection of athletic footwear, apparel, and equipment at discounted prices, it’s a key destination for those looking to combine style with performance.

Regal Cinemas

Regal Cinemas provides a state-of-the-art movie-going experience at Sawgrass Mills. With multiple screens showing the latest blockbusters, it’s a perfect spot for entertainment after a day of shopping.

Nordstrom Rack

Nordstrom Rack offers various fashion and accessories from top brands at discounted prices. This store is a hotspot for those who love high-quality apparel and footwear but are budget-conscious.

Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse

Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse at Sawgrass Mills is a paradise for shoe lovers. It features an extensive footwear collection for every occasion, catering to fashion-forward shoppers and those seeking practical options.


Burlington is known for its affordable fashion, home goods, and beauty products. This store is a favorite among families and budget shoppers looking for quality items at lower prices.

Super Target

Super Target combines the convenience of a supermarket with a wide range of general merchandise. This store is ideal for visitors who connect their shopping trips with grocery and household needs.

BrandsMart USA

BrandsMart USA is a key destination for electronics and appliances. Offering a vast selection of products at competitive prices, it attracts tech enthusiasts and everyday consumers alike.


Primark adds a trendy and affordable dimension to Sawgrass Mills. Known for its fast-fashion clothing and accessories, it appeals to a younger demographic looking for the latest styles without the high costs.


Homesense offers a wide variety of home furnishings and decor items. This store is a treasure trove for those looking to add a unique touch to their living spaces, offering everything from furniture to kitchenware.

adidas Outlet Store

The adidas Outlet Store is a haven for sports and casual wear enthusiasts. Offering a range of athletic apparel, footwear, and accessories at discounted prices, it’s a go-to for fans of this iconic sportswear brand.


H&M at Sawgrass Mills offers fashionable clothing at affordable prices. Catering to a fashion-conscious crowd, this store is known for its trendy designs and sustainable fashion options.

Forever 21

Forever 21 brings youthful energy to Sawgrass Mills with its trendy, budget-friendly fashion range. It’s a popular destination for young shoppers seeking the latest in fast-fashion apparel and accessories.

Each of these anchor stores plays a vital role in the diverse retail ecosystem of Sawgrass Mills, offering something unique to every visitor, from luxury shoppers to bargain hunters and everyone in between.

Sawgrass Mills
Sawgrass Mills” by Horst Goertz is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Sawgrass Mills as an Entertainment and Dining Destination

Entertainment Venues

Sawgrass Mills goes beyond shopping with its array of entertainment venues. Regal Cinemas, for instance, offers a state-of-the-art movie-going experience with multiple screens.

The transformation of GameWorks into In The Game in 2018 brought a new dimension of entertainment, blending dining and arcade games for a family-friendly outing.

Dining Options

The dining landscape at Sawgrass Mills is as diverse as its retail offerings. The mall caters to various tastes and preferences, from fast food to sit-down restaurants.

Notable dining spots include The Cheesecake Factory, known for its extensive menu, and Texas de Brazil, which offers a unique Brazilian steakhouse experience.

These dining options enhance the visitor experience, providing a break from shopping with various culinary delights.

Special Events and Activities

Sawgrass Mills is not just a shopping and dining destination; it’s a venue for events and activities that engage the community.

Seasonal events, promotional activities, and special sales draw crowds looking for more than a shopping trip.

These events add extra excitement to the mall, making each visit a potentially new experience.

Getting to Sawgrass Mills is a breeze. Positioned at the West Sunrise Boulevard and Flamingo Road crossroads, the mall is conveniently located just 15 minutes from Fort Lauderdale and approximately 35 minutes from Miami and Palm Beach. 

Whether you’re a resident or a tourist flying into the Miami International Airport or the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, you’ll find the mall easily accessible.

Once at the mall, you’ll find a host of amenities designed to make your shopping experience smooth and enjoyable.

Every detail has been thoughtfully planned, from ample parking to easy transportation options within the mall. 

For those who prefer to avoid wandering through the mall, there’s the option of curbside pickup from select retailers.

And for the tech-savvy, the mall’s mobile app provides a handy guide to store locations, offers, and more.

Recent Developments and Future Plans

Latest Additions and Closures

Sawgrass Mills has continually evolved to keep pace with the changing retail landscape. In 2020, the mall witnessed the closure of Century 21 Department Store, a significant event in its retail history.

However, this was balanced by opening new stores like Primark in 2020, adding a fresh dimension to the shopping experience.

The mall has also seen the introduction of popular brands like Adidas in 2019, further diversifying its retail offerings.

Planned Expansions and Renovations

Looking towards the future, Sawgrass Mills plans expansion and renovation to enhance the shopper experience.

These plans are geared towards modernizing the mall and making it more appealing to a new generation of shoppers.

The focus is on integrating more digital elements and creating spaces that are more than just shopping destinations.

Sawgrass Mills is actively adapting to the evolving trends in the retail sector. This includes embracing e-commerce and integrating online shopping experiences with traditional retail.

The mall also focuses on creating more experiential spaces, recognizing the growing consumer preference for experiences over mere transactions.

Sawgrass Mills in the Community

Economic Impact

Sawgrass Mills plays a significant role in the local economy of Sunrise, Florida. The mall is a major regional employer contributing to the local economy through sales and property taxes. Its presence has spurred growth in surrounding areas, making it a key economic driver.

Community Engagement and Events

The mall actively engages with the local community through various events and initiatives. These include hosting job fairs, like the one in October 2022, which provided employment opportunities to the local populace.

Sawgrass Mills also participates in community events and supports local charities, reinforcing its commitment to the community.

Environmental and Social Initiatives

Sawgrass Mills is conscious of its environmental impact and has undertaken initiatives to be more sustainable.

This includes waste management programs and efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. The mall also focuses on social initiatives, contributing to local causes and promoting social welfare activities.

These efforts reflect Sawgrass Mills’ commitment to being a responsible and integral part of the Sunrise community.

Sawgrass Mills Aerial
Sawgrass Mills Aerial” by Yanjipy is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Sawgrass Mills – A Dynamic Retail Beacon

Reflecting on Sawgrass Mills’ Journey

As we look back on the journey of Sawgrass Mills, it’s clear that this mall is more than just a shopping center; it’s a dynamic entity that has continually adapted to the evolving retail landscape.

From its inception in 1990 to its standing in 2024, Sawgrass Mills has grown in size and stature, becoming a key destination for shoppers and tourists alike.

Its ability to blend diverse retail, dining, and entertainment options under one roof is a testament to its visionary planning and execution.

Sawgrass Mills’ Significance in the Retail World

Sawgrass Mills stands out as a beacon in the retail world, showcasing the potential of malls to be more than just places to shop.

Its unique structure, extensive range of stores, and commitment to providing a comprehensive visitor experience have set it apart.

The mall’s resilience in the face of challenges, including economic shifts and security concerns, underscores its importance to the local community in Sunrise, Florida, and the broader retail sector.

Envisioning the Future of Sawgrass Mills

Sawgrass Mills is poised to continue its premier shopping and entertainment destination legacy. Its ongoing adaptations to consumer trends and market demands suggest a future where it remains at the forefront of the retail experience.

As Sawgrass Mills moves forward, it will undoubtedly continue to evolve, reflecting the dynamic nature of the retail industry and the ever-changing preferences of its visitors.

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